When to quit?

“Yeah, I’m a great quitter. It’s one of the few things I do well. I come from a long line of quitters. My father was a quitter, my grandfather was a quitter… I was raised to give up.” George Costanza (Seinfeld)

Beside “quit smoking” or “quit drinking/drugs”, the word quit is usually looked at as a negative behavior. We are taught not to quit and learned that only losers quit. What people don’t like to admit is that sometimes quitting requires courage. Quitting your cubical job to follow your dream job somewhere else requires gut. Parents may get a heart attack if they just hear that their son or daughter planning to quit school to start his/her own business. It is something almost never heard of especially in Jordan where people, mistakenly, believe that one can’t survive without a college degree.
I am not pro-quitting but I think quitting is overrated. When to quit is man’s worst decision making dilemma. In our social life, there are many scenarios that I can think of were quitting is good. The most important one is the decision that a married couple has to make when their marriage is right on the edge. Should they continue hoping that things will become better? How long they should stay together before they decide that their marriage is no longer possible? In some cases divorce might save their lives and their kids’ future.

The department of transportation came up with a brilliant idea to save money and time for both the drivers and the rest of the world. They planted “Dead End” signs at the entrance of every neighborhood that leads to nowhere. Unfortunately, we don’t have such privilege in our life. We have to struggle before we find that we reached a dead end.

In the research field, there is no crystal clear answer to when should a PhD or a researcher stop or quit his research if he is working tirelessly with no gain. Pursuing a dead end research is a waste of money, time, and one’s self. How far should a PhD student or a researcher go before he decides that his efforts will lead him no where? No one can answer this question or find a formula to when to quit because no one knows the future.

On the other hand, should one pursue his dream whatever the consequences. Believing that his tireless efforts may one day lead him to success? Thomas Edison said “I have not failed 1000 times. I have successfully discovered 1000 ways to NOT make a light bulb.” Imagine how many years humans would have lived with no light bulb if Edison quitted his dream after his 999 trial.

So, the everlasting question is should one quit when things are not in his favor or continue hoping for the best? Also, when one should decide to quit before wasting years on something that may lead him to a dead end eventually?

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5 thoughts on “When to quit?

  1. Quiting is not for the men! Am kidding! At some point u should quit, but the quieter should be brave enough to! U know the stigma of quiting pushes many to even consider it as a choice! And all they will do is being stupidly stubborn and wasting time and efforts that can be put into better use!

  2. aaahhhhhhhhhhhhh

    you PhDs have a common theme in your blogs and you reinforce why I went against my dad’s strong wishes and never pursued a PhD.

    Allah y3eenkum

  3. I sure would love if we have this option for dead end signs it would have saved us a lot of effort and time wasted indeed.

    I would be pro going after one’s dream even if it seems uncertain it would be better than spending your entire life wondering what would have been the outcome if you took the road less taken that it would ruin your life so you would not enjoy that you persued your dream and it will ruin your other option.
    My motto is better to have fought and lost and then not to have fought at all what is worth fighting for that your own dream

  4. Very interesting subject indeed.

    It is a hard question to answer. I have been raised not to be a quitter – to always keep on going, even if I am not sure going on is the best solution. So usually I don’t quit. And in some situations it is good – it means that I have gone through almost the entire education system – soon finishing my masters degree – even though I have had doubts sometimes about whether I should quit or keep going. So I am happy that I did continue with my education – but then again – you never know what might had happened if I had quitted…?

    And in my personal life I stayed for 5 years in a relationship with a man, where the passion dissapeared after 2 years. So I stayed for an additional 3 years hoping that it would get better and slowly convincing myself that it was good enough. Luckily I finally quitted that – and that was a very good decision. I am happy and experiencing new sides of my self and of life in general that I never would have experienced if I had stayed.

    Life is too short for not pursuing your dreams – too short not to go after the things that makes you happy – even if it means quitting something 😉

    (Sorry for the long comment)

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