It’s Time To Quit: And Try

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did so. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

I recently let my daughter quit competitive soccer. (In the age of helicopter parenting, this is heresy.)

She’s played since she was four years old, which I’m slightly horrified to admit, means she’s been competing in one sport for six years.

And she’s really, objectively, quite good.

But she felt deeply she was done. And she trusted her gut enough to tell us.

The game didn’t excite her anymore. Getting her ready for practice was a cross between a tear-jerking Hallmark movie and a WCW face-off.

After a week of serious discussions, a batch of am-I-a-bad-parent research and soul-searching, my husband and I let her quit.

She immediately reported feeling highly relieved, over-joyed and happy.

The only snag was her older sister who sweetly told her, “You’ll regret it.”

My youngest came to me the next night and asked me, “Am I a quitter?”

“Who told you that?” I said.

“I got the memo,” she answered and mentioned her sister. (I had to stifle a laugh.)

“No,” I answered. “You’re a try-er.”

“As a kid it is your job to try things. You’re supposed to experiment, fall in love with things, fall out of love, jump around and see what you like. If you don’t enjoy something anymore, it’s time to move on.

“There are plenty of things in life you can’t stop doing like going to school, being a kind person, and being our daughter. The rest of it, if you feel it’s not for you anymore, you can change.”

I’m not quite sure what parenting muse was guiding me in that moment, but whoever you are, thank you for those words.

They made me think.

Maybe they apply to more than just kids.

Do you see yourself as a try-er? Do you celebrate when you try something new? Or do you keep doing things because you’re afraid of quitting? Do you make the fear of quitting a snug little safe trap for yourself?

When was the last time you were a try-er? When was the last time you tried to do something completely new?

Or, when was the last time you let something go that was sapping your energy, stealing your precious hours and crushing your spirit?

It takes courage to quit. To let go. To open yourself up to the unknown.

I’ll never forget having to quit my job teaching English in Japan, two months shy of my 12-month contract. I felt like a total loser – even though working out the contract was a threat to my mental health.

I don’t think I have ever been so scared in my life.

But the minute it was over, I was a new person.

I was a dammed river, finally flowing again.

Relief like that, in life, is hard to come by.

Without really realizing it, this month, I tried something totally new. I became the parent of a high schooler. I launched a new project for my business that I’ve never done before.

This was before I read The E-Myth Enterprise by Michael E. Gerber. In it, Gerber insists one of the ironclad laws of business is More. People will always want more. To meet this need as businesses, we must continue to provide more.

To me, as an entrepreneur, this means although it’s often uncomfortable to me, I must continue to insist on new ideas, on innovative steps, on being a try-er.

And but I could do more. I could keep figuring out what I love instead of resting on my laurels.

I could encourage my family, my business partner, my team to do the same.

I could, like my 70-something dad recently did, learn how to ride a motorcycle.

Well, I could try.