When is it okay to give up?

Posted by on Oct 4, 2013 in Get your goals | 28 comments

How many times have you seen inspirational messages that say things like:

Never give up

Stay strong

Keep going

You’re almost there

Just a little bit further

Don’t give up

I was raised in a world that taught me quitting is failure- only losers quit. I let this belief push me beyond my limits. I let this belief limit my true potential. I stayed too long in relationships, jobs, and commitments that just weren’t working for me because I thought I HAD to keep going.

Successful people don’t quit, right? Wrong.

Earlier this year I quit my full-time corporate job and set out to get a part-time job and be self-employed part-time. Before taking this step I consulted with entreprenuers, did my research, and I had a solid plan for success. But things didn’t work out exactly as I planned. Once I was in the middle of it I discovered what I was doing wasn’t working for me. I wasn’t happy, I was struggling to stay healthy, and I wasn’t earning the income I hoped to earn. I briefly thought about sticking with my plan even though I knew it wasn’t working.

Then I thought about a small business I worked for years ago that stuck with the business model that had made them successful even as the market was changing into something new and how the business started to fail because it didn’t adapt to the changing market. The owner lost his car, his home, and eventually the business shut down- he lost everything clinging to a plan that was no longer sustainable.

I realized a life well-lived requires me to focus on what’s important and let go of everything that’s not. I can use what I’ve learned to adjust my expectations, to realign my life with my intentions, to do more of what’s important and less of what’s not. I learned when to quit.

When is it okay to give up?

When what you’re doing does not give back to you!

it's okay to give up

Today I invite you to give up anything that doesn’t make you feel excited, encouraged, motivated, hopeful, and energized. Live life on life’s terms.

Goals are important but happiness and success happens more often when your goals are flexible and adaptable. Be flexible and adaptable. Let go of expectations and guilt.

Live a life that lights you up! Sometimes in life you’ve got to give yourself a break. Sometimes in life you’ve got to give up.

I love your comments! When have you given up? Was it the right choice? Can you think of a time you didn’t give up even when you knew what you were doing wasn’t working out for you?


  1. I’ve just come across this post whilst googling ‘is it okay to quit’ even although I already know the answer. I enjoyed reading everyone’s comments and thank you for your words. Sometimes you have to quit. Today, I have decided to give up. It’s time to let go of control and leave room for my true self to shine through. For too long I have let the ‘could, should, would’ believers affect my own true beliefs and feelings. And even although I don’t really know what it is that I’m supposed to do now, I do know that what I have been doing hasn’t worked. I’ve lived my life through the eyes of others and probably through MY own view of what they think… So here’s to the new me, to giving up, to finding my true voice, my inner power, letting go of the old and not giving in to fear any more. Quitting is not the end – it’s another step in the process – to becoming the authentic me. :)

    • Wow, thanks for your amazing comment, Janis!

      Yes, this is just the beginning and once you let go of something that is no longer serving you, you can start doing something that does serve you! Quitting may sometimes feel sad and painful if we let go of a cherished dream, or move on from people and situations we once loved, but ultimately we’re making a self-loving and self-affirming choice by choosing to do what is right for us.

      I don’t know what’s next for you, either, but I have the sense it’s going to be great!

      Please join my newsletter– I’m putting the finishing touches on a new worksheet to help people get unstuck and determine the next step in their career- and this worksheet can be used for personal or career planning. It will go out first to everyone on my newsletter!

      Thanks and have an amazing day!


  2. Hi This is great,

    I have just recently put an event (a music festival I put on for 3 years running) on hold for a year because it was just burning me out, it has grown quite successful (although it was still taking mall my time and burning me out, and did not really make me any money but was more of an expense) ..

    I finally decided to put it on hold this year and not have to continue to grow it, I would instead focus on other areas of my life (Im a musician and have put my music on hold for 3 years while spending all the time on the fest) and my wife and the house we are going to buy.

    So reading this has given me that extra vote of confidence to feel what I am doing is right for me and my health. Thank you for writing it!

  3. I love this article as I feel and experienced the same..but I just started to do. I resigned from my previous career in a very well known luxury retailer in my country. For 5 years I feel that was my best career ever in my life. I travelled to Europe 2 times a year, attended fashion week, meet the celebrities and socialites, etc etc.. I feel over the moon.. until I was collaps in the hospital because severe headache that cause of stress. My family I asked me to take rest and pampering myself after more then 5 years I’ve never really take care of myself. Shortly, I resigned from there. I leave everything include my pride and dignity cause I was known well in the community cause I have my work. Now, been 4 months already.. I started to take short cause and really pursueing my passion. I want to do what ever not make me like slave any more.. I want independent.. I have plan and thinking to have my own bussiness or be part timer.. But I couldnt find what and how next.. Lately, I feel regret why I have to leave my work? Why I have to resign? and others blame to myself.. I realize this is not good and it make me stuck to move on. Please give advise abou this.. I need encouragement.. and give my faith back to me.. I don’t know what I feel now…Thanks..

  4. Hi Chrysta,

    I saw your name at Adrienne’s blog and thought to stop by. And I’m glad I did. :)

    Very insightful post about giving up when things don’t back to us as we expect to. I think everyone has to be clear about goals. If we don’t have a clear vision what we want then giving up isn’t important because it doesn’t matter. On the other part people with clear goals sooner realize whether goals are achieving and when is the right time to give it up.

    Thanks Chrysta for sharing this, I enjoyed it.

    ~ Dragan

    • So glad you stopped by today- thank you!

      I love your point about being clear about your goals. I don’t know about you, but I’ve definitely been sidetracked from my goal by opportunities that seem great on paper yet still aren’t directly related to my goal but “too good” to pass up, or opportunities other people tell me I “should” do because it’s the safe way to go yet aren’t directly related to my goal. Sometimes I get sucked in by a lack of information or simply by wishing/hoping/wanting a situation to be something other than what it is. Despite all of these traps I have fallen into, as long as I’m clear about my goal I can get back on track sooner rather than later.

      Thanks for sharing your insights! Have a fabulous day!


  5. Hi Chrysta,

    Congratulations on being featured on Adrienne’s blog – just flown over from there!

    I love the message in this post – it’s a great counterbalance to all the “you can do it” stuff we get fed on social media, which is NOT always appropriate to everyone’s circumstances and which can, I think, put some people under intolerable pressure. After University, I decided to go into psychiatric nursing, but was pressurized to do a general nursing course first – I absolutely hated it and quit half-way through, because it just wasn’t right for me – I started again, doing a mental health nursing course, which was what I’d wanted to do in the first place. I know many people thought I was crazy, and it seemed like “giving up”, but it was absolutely the right thing for me to do at the time.

    I like your poster message that it’s OK to give up on the things that don’t give back to you – that’s a good rule of thumb.

    Thanks for a great post – I’m very pleased to have found your blog.

    • I’m so glad you stopped by, Susan! And good for you for giving up general nursing and switching to a specialty that you wanted!

      There’s such an abundance of advice and “shoulds” out there- not just from social media but from family, friends, colleagues, etc. and most of those “shoulds” are often motivated by fears, not success. Of course sometimes you’ve got to keep trying but only when you really care about what you’re doing and you know you’re doing the right things!

      And sometimes even though you may be on one path that leads to your goals, there’s other paths that also lead there. Just recently I believed I needed to stick with something that wasn’t really working out for me and my mentor suggested there are other ways to get the same skills and experience I wanted by doing something I would enjoy more- what a revelation!

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience. Have a grateful day!


  6. Hi Chrysta,

    Miss Adrienne sent me … 😉

    Here’s what I think: Instead of reading online tabloids, or ESPN, or falling into the dreaded social media vortex, get out a pen and a sheet of paper and write out several things …

    Am I unhappy? Why? What will change that? What do I really want to do? Can I actually make a living doing this? If not, can I change it up into something that will?

    AND How can I make “it” work, all while keeping my current boring job?

    … then I say it’s okay to give up, as long as you plan it out and learn to enjoy your days until then. Until the big moment.

    I wouldn’t tell someone to find a passion, or to turn their world upside down, or to try and live a remarkable life.

    But it’s okay to seek a little contentment in life, and yes, part of that is often giving up on what ain’t workin’ for ya.

    Love the look of the site :)

    • Wow, thanks so much for your insightful comment, Craig! I absolutely LOVE the questions you shared- very powerful!

      I absolutely agree the best life (and often most successful life) comes from enjoying your life today. Pursuing a goal or dream can be a wonderful motivator but, truly, if we can’t find even a little happiness in what we have today, there’s no guarantee we’ll be happy even if we were to reach our goals. Life is all about making the best of what’s in front of us. Sometimes a change is necessary, but we have to find ways to enjoy every day regardless of our current situation.

      Thinking about a job I recently left I would add one question to your list- how else can I get where I want to go? My mentor challenged my belief that I needed to stick with something that wasn’t working for me by suggesting instead of sticking with that job, I still pursue my goals by gaining similar skills and experience elsewhere- and not just another job like the one I had but a slightly different path heading in the same direction.

      Thanks again for stopping by- have a grateful day!


      • “how else can I get where I want to go?” Yes! And taking just a few little steps each day (baby steps) can get you there :)

  7. Chrysta –

    This blog describes so many of us who are instilled with the values that encourage us to stick in there for the hard stuff. While that is still good advice, your blog takes such a refreshing look at how we need to step back and reevaluate some things that we start.

    I totally identify with you doing your research and shaping a plan for your venture. But you were flexible – and honest enough – to see that it didn’t seem right in the long run.

    It’s taken me years to learn this and I’m loving how your generation is much more willing to shift gears when something is not working.

    Kudos to you! Congratulations on being one of Adrienne’s Admired bloggers. I’m signed up to hear more!

    Karen Hoyt

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Karen!

      Learning to let go is a lesson I’ve learned by keeping up with something that isn’t working, and suffering because of it, until I realized, oh hey, maybe this just isn’t the right way to go about this or maybe some of my assumptions about my situation are false!

      I’ve also known many hardworking professionals that do all the “right” things and have ended up starting their careers over. I really feel for these individuals and watching them go through this made me realize my plans could change even if I was on the right track and this helped me become more adaptable (though I’m sure growing up an army kid helped with adaptability, too!)

      I appreciate your comment, kind words, and thanks so much for signing up! Have a grateful day!


  8. Hello Chrysta; Its max one of the other bloggers featured in Adrienne’s post this morning. I am sorry to say I’ve been having so much fun reading and replying to comments that i didn’t get around to coming here until just now. I enjoyed this post. And you are right winners know when it is time to quit. I used to travel the country with my family’s small children’s carnival. After my dad died the show folded and I was working kids games on my uncle’s carnival. I wasn’t happy and i wasn’t making a lot of money. As my cousin’s business expanded mine got worse. So, I decided to turn to helping people sell their amusement, concessions, and confections equipment. I’m still not making a lot of money, but I’m getting established and I feel that big things are just around the corner. I know I am a lot happier now. Thanks for your great post. I hope that more people can learn from your experience. Best of luck with the blog and your new business. Take care my new friend, Max

    • Thank you for sharing your experience, Max, and congratulations on being included in Adrienne’s post!

      I love hearing stories like yours because I, too, have recently left behind one career path and am setting off on another. I’m making less money yet I feel positive and hopeful.

      Money isn’t everything and no matter how much money you have, you can always lose it. Living a meaningful and purposeful life is far more rewarding and long-lasting, if you ask me! Nothing will ever lessen the positive impact I’ve had on not only my own life, but the lives of others. :)

      I wish you the best of life as you get established and do more of what you love!

      Have a grateful day!


      • hi Chrysta; congrats to you too for being on adrienne’s list. the friends I have made and continue to make online are a big part of the enjoyment i get from my business. I like to tell people that the site is my passion. Its the reason I get up in the morning and the last thing I think about before going to bed at night. While i worked hard at the carnival thing, i don’t think i ever had this much joy in it. And there is something to be said for building something of your own as oposed to carrying on someone else’s dream. I am in a good place. I feel more sales are out there. And people are starting to see me as one of the experts in my field. Thans for the good thoughts. And people don’t put enough stock in being greatful. So you have a greatful and blessed week my new friend, max Your message…

  9. Hi Chrysta,

    I came over to your blog via Adrienne Smith. I am sure glad she wrote her “thankful” post and mentioned you.

    I was brought up the same way, i.e. a quitter is a bad thing. But I learned early in life that quitting is necessary. I quit my marriage because of an abusive husband. Phew…

    I quit some business ventures because it wasn’t serving me properly or as promised. (that’s a long story made very short he he)

    Just recently I moved to another state because the taxes I was paying were so high with no return for the community.

    I’ll hang in there and try everything I can in a situation to make it work, but will quit after all efforts are exhausted.

    So glad you wrote on this topic because lots of people won’t quit what is not serving them well or healthy.


    • I love your attitude, Donna! There’s a big difference between exhausting all possible efforts and continuing to give and give and give to a goal/situation that isn’t giving back to you- being able to gather up your courage and say, “well this is a failed experiment but I now I have good data to incorporate in my next experiment” (or something like that!)

      I congratulate you for recognizing when situations were not working out for you and taking steps to change your life for the better! It can be difficult to go against the values you’re raised with but it’s far more difficult to live a life that isn’t true to you.

      (And I made a similar decision about my former marriage. I’m so glad I loved myself enough to get out of an abusive situation!)

      Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your experience! Have a grateful day!


  10. “Live a life that lights you up!” I love this. I’m right there with you on letting go of the things that aren’t working for me anymore. We’ve all only got so much time. We need to make the most of it and enjoy it while we can.

    • Thank you for sharing your positive message, Jen!

      I love the simplicity of making the most of life and enjoying it while we can. When I think about it in those turns I wonder why anyone would force themselves to stay on a path that doesn’t make them happy- all those reasons that seem compelling in the middle of the struggle seem flimsy when measured against making the most of the life we have.

      Have a grateful day, make the most of it, and most of all, enjoy it!


  11. I so agree with what you’re saying Chrysta and that happened to me in my marriage. I was raised that once you started something you didn’t quit and that divorce was not an option.

    I eventually learned though from my preacher and counselor that being in an unhealthy environment is not how you’re suppose to live your life. I thought I would be seen as a quitter and no one wanted divorce strapped onto this life forever. Now every time I check a box I have to put divorced. My goodness, that was 25 years ago now and that’s not who I am.

    I agree that we stick with things longer then we should because we may be viewed as a failure. I always thought failing was quitting but somethings you just need to quit. Maybe like you said you’re not happy doing that and you need to try something else. That doesn’t mean you failed at that, that means you changed directions. I’ve changed so many directions it’s not even funny.

    Bravo for bringing this up, it’s an important topic. I think a lot of us were brought up with this same belief but it’s now time to think differently.

    Thanks for sharing this Chrysta and have a wonderful week.


    • I came by to check out your blog because Adrienne wrote about you in her post today: “5 Bloggers That I Admire”. Since Adrienne is high on my list of bloggers I admire, I’m visiting all the blogs she recommended.

      Often we take the wrong path because parents, the educational system, and society want us to be one thing while our true calling may be another. It is those systems that condition us to not quit, ever – no matter what.

      The challenge is knowing when to persist and when to change. Personally I find divine guidance the way to know the difference.

      • Thank you so much for stopping by, Gail! Adrienne is certainly a blogger I admire, too!

        You’ve got it right- the challenge is knowing when to persist and when to change. There are often so many arguments for or against any particular decision but in the end I know the right choice for me when I quiet my mind and trust in my truth. Trusting in my truth is my divine guidance- it is when I set aside my ego, my dreams, my judgements, and my fears- I only know the truth in that moment.

        I appreciate your comment! Have a grateful day!


    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Adrienne!

      I stayed too long in my first marriage because I believed it was the right thing to do. Eventually I realized that both my ex-husband and I were terribly unhappy and when marriage counseling did not help I finally decided to love myself, and my husband, enough to admit our marriage wasn’t working and we both deserved to find a happy life, even if it wasn’t with each other.

      I like your thinking about changing directions versus failing. It’s not a failure to realize a course correction is necessary- in fact if a boat was sailing into bad weather it would be a failure to stay on course and risk the lives of the crew instead of correcting course, right?!

      I know it’s time to give up when giving up is kind and loving to myself and others!

      Have a grateful day!


  12. Hi Chrysta

    I am inclined to hang on even when things are going south. I wish I had bailed out of things sooner at times. But also somethings are worth sticking with. If we only knew what the best choices were before we find out the hard way, we would all be a lot happier.

    Where as my husband is quicker to throw in the towel when it isn’t working, sometimes too quickly. He is learning patience, persistence and I am learning to feel free to walk away when things aren’t going as planned. If we could only balance what we are both good at, wow the possibilities are endless!

    Lots of good points here.


    • Thank you for sharing your story, Mary!

      I once heard the saying, “let go or be dragged”. Thinking of my life in these terms can help me accept when it’s time to let go if the only other option is to be dragged! Some things are absolutely worth sticking with, and it can be very challenging to know when that’s the right choice, but ultimately I am learning if I, or anyone else, is harmed by my current path, it’s probably the right choice to give up and try something different!

      Have a grateful day!


  13. Yes, I have certainly given up things in the past, and despite all the problems with my current life (I can’t say I have any problems. Life is certainly good), I don’t regret any of my mistakes.

    Quitting is very powerful, but we must be careful 😉 Know when to quit, and when not to.

    I ask myself: Is this working for me? Is this activity or plan wasting my time/resources? What is my ROI?

    If it is not worth the time and effort, well then there is no point in pursuing it.

    Quit, and find a better plan to work with, a better way to achieve the same goals 😀

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Quitting, Chrysta :)

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Jeevan!

      You’ve got a great list of questions that can help indicate if it’s time to quit. I also like your suggestion to just find a better way to achieve your goals- sometimes it’s not your goals that aren’t working, it’s the methods that need to be adjusted!

      I am so pleased to read your life is good and you don’t regret your mistakes- what a wonderful way to live!

      Have a grateful day!


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