How To Boost Your Happiness…By Quitting

7356883190_7de9a82642_zby Dina Overland

About seven years ago, I was making a lot of money at my job. But I was working late every night. I was stressing about meeting deadlines. And I was generally feeling harried and unhappy.

My former career as a freelance writer was in full swing, and I was miserable. I was overworked, stressed, and disliking the work I was doing (writing feature articles for a client).

Despite my misery, I continued working on that project. I ignored my intuition and the multiple signs steering me away from the job, including constant headaches, tense muscles, and restless sleep.

I just couldn’t bring myself to give up and let go.

As I continued to ignore my sense that this freelance project wasn’t the right fit for me, I became constantly irritable and cranky and frequently picked silly fights with my husband.

So why couldn’t I just pull the trigger and quit already? I was miserable, after all!

Rationally, I knew quitting was the right step for me; I could easily rattle off all the reasons I should stop working with this client. Yet I wondered whether the situation would improve and whether I should try harder to make it work.

Maybe it was ME that was the problem?

Then one day, my client called and very nicely told me that we weren’t a good fit. So I was basically fired because I couldn’t give up and let go of a situation that I knew was so toxic for me.

Problem solved, right?

Well…not so much. I wanted to know why I wasn’t able to do what my client had — end our project (and my own misery). After several days of journaling and introspection, I had an “ah-ha” moment.

I equated quitting with failing.

In this case, I failed to admit this project wasn’t a good fit for me. I failed to adequately complete the task. I failed at enjoying the work.

And I was afraid to fail because I thought failure meant admitting I was unworthy of success. That I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t capable enough. I wasn’t…enough.

But really, quitting is often about taking control of your life and setting clear boundaries about what you will and will not accept.

When you realize that an action, project, friendship, or situation does not fall in line with the particular parameters you set for yourself, you must take steps to resolve the dilemma.

“Each time you set a healthy boundary,

you say yes to more freedom.”

~ Nancy Levin

So that means one of the greatest steps we can take to succeed (in our personal lives, our happiness, our relationships, basically…life) is to clearly identify our own definition of success, including specific boundaries we want to uphold.

Then, we must quit whatever doesn’t adhere to our own version of happiness.

Personally, I value time with my family and friends more than I value a high-powered career riddled with stress and pressure. Since this one writing project required more than I wanted to give, it wasn’t right for me.

It didn’t matter how my husband, friends, or family would respond under the same conditions, since our thresholds for balance are inherently personal.

So instead of believing that quitting a situation that’s too painful or not worth the effort means that you failed, consider quitting a step toward controlling your own life, digging the boundaries in deeper to create balance.

Next time you find yourself in a situation that feels out of control, decide whether quitting would preserve your mental well-being, overall health, and balance.

Quitting just may be the most successful step you can take.


Dina Overland is a Spiritual Life Coach helping you move past your emotional pain so you can stop feeling angry, anxious, bitter, depressed and alone and start feeling more happiness, love and peace. Watch her free video—From Pain to Joy: 4 Steps to Finding Peace Through Emotional Suffering—join her Facebook group for more support, and check out her website to learn about working with her.


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