The Virtue Of Quitting

(Reading time: 2 minutes and 41 seconds)

Hey, you guys! Chuck here!

I had many successes in 2016! I’ll have many more successes in 2017! For example, my current weight is now 179, which means I am nine pounds a way from my ultimate weight loss goal! Which means I will definitely achieve my ultimate weight loss goal in 2017! That will be a huge success! The way it stands now, I’ll probably achieve this goal before the summer! Very exciting! One of my secrets to success is that I have a very high regard for quitting! Not just quitting like how I quit drinking, but quitting in the sense of giving up on something you were attempting to accomplish when it fails to reap proper rewards or just becomes excessively frustrating.

In our culture we tend to fetishize people who stick it out and persevere until they finally have their hard-earned success. We love movies about people who take on an unnecessarily difficult job and keep showing up day after grueling day until they achieve their ultimate victory, whether it be the young man who takes on a curmudgeon kung fu master or the teacher who takes on an unruly group of students. We love to see the hero grit their teeth, hold their ground, and eventually have success. And it’s a great story, but in real life I admire the person who gives up and tries to find something a little easier and more rewarding! The goal is to live a life full of fun challenges, not constant frustration! Always keep in mind the old adage about how insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results!

I’ll give one example from my own life where I quit something and it turned out to be for the best! Six years ago when I began my career as a street performer I tried playing guitar and harmonica at the same time. I wanted to do something to make my street performance more dynamic and this seemed like the most obvious thing at first. But, two things inspired me to quit. First off, people kept requesting Bob Dylan and Neil Young songs. If you have  a harmonica around your neck, people automatically think Dylan and Young and that will always be the case, even if you’re singing Billie Holiday songs. The second thing was my deep respect for serious harmonica players like Peter “Madcat” Ruth. When you play guitar and harmonica at the same time, you’re going to do a mediocre job at both. The harmonica is a fantastic instrument and you can do some amazing things with it, but that just wasn’t the path I was destined to head down. As long as I played guitar and harmonica at the same time, I would never be that good at either and people would keep requesting Bob Dylan and Neil Young songs. So I quit. The frustrations were too great and the success was beyond reach. It was time to move on to something a little easier.

And as a result of having quit the harmonica, I ended up improving my guitar game and learning a new and more appropriate skill (mouth trumpet). People more readily recognize what it is I’m going for as a performer. My act is more refined and I owe that to quitting. Quitting is awesome!

A couple years later I was telling a man on the street why I had quit playing the harmonica. His response was “Ah, man! You should never give up on your dreams!”. He was missing the bigger picture. In this case, my dream wasn’t to be a great harmonica player, it was to be a great street performer. So remember to always keep the bigger picture in mind. Don’t confuse your dream of massive weight loss with the momentary goal of sticking to a new diet. Don’t confuse your dream of being a great teacher with the momentary goal of winning over a particular group of delinquent youth. And keeping the bigger picture in mind can help you know when it’s time to quit something. I recognized it was time to quit somewhere around the 300th Dylan request.

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