Quitting my way to a better life

As an introvert, I tend to be more aware of my faults than most. This causes me to spend a lot of time and effort working on trying to find ways to improve myself in attempts to minimize these faults. In fact, efforts at self-improvement are a full-time endeavor for me.

This almost always involves adding things to the list of what I “should” be doing: be kinder, listen more (which means talk less), eat better, exercise more, clean out my closets, be more social, sleep more, read more, have a more positive attitude, keep up with my gratitude journal, meditate more, pray more, step outside my comfort zone more often, and on and on and on. It’s no wonder I get so tired! The list is never-ending.

Adding things to my plate to make myself a better person was the only way I knew how to work on improving myself. Until now. I recently discovered a whole new way to go about this.

I came across a blog post called Quits Update on the blog Cordelia Calls It Quits. In this post, she reviews her progress on a number of things she’s committed to quit doing in order to improve her life. She posts her “quits” on her blog, and that keeps her accountable to report back on how well she’s doing.

I never really spent much time thinking about self-improvement through quitting before, but after I read through her list of some of her “quits,” I think this just might give me a whole new option to use. Rather than self-improvement always being about adding to my plate, maybe I would sometimes be better served by quitting something instead.

What would it look like to identify things that I am not going to do anymore? What would happen if I chose to quit worrying so much what other people think of me? What if I chose to quit trying to “help” people who really don’t want my help? Or what if I chose to stop taking criticism personally?

Yes, all those things still amount to self-improvement projects. Yes, they would still require me to focus on doing something differently. But somehow there is a whole different feel for me to think about quitting something than there is to adding something new to do. It feels easier, lighter, more freedom. It’s just a matter of catching myself in the moment when I start to do these things and choosing to stop.

I’m still pondering this approach, and I’m not yet ready to publicly commit to quitting anything in particular, but I plan to keep watching Cordelia’s updates on her “quit” for ideas for my own quit list. I think this sounds like a much more fun way to go about this.

Have any of you tried the quitting approach to improving your own life? Did it work for you?

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8 thoughts on “Quitting my way to a better life

  1. If I had not quit quite a lot of things, I would be dead. Quitting–mindful quitting–works. It isn’t really any easier, but yes, as you said, in the end, it does feel far more lighter than constantly adding “Shoulds.”

    • Thanks for the input! I’m glad to hear that you found it lighter, which is exactly what I was hoping for. I could use more lightness in my self/life improvement efforts!

  2. I love this idea. I have decided to quit complaining and worrying about a moment that is not here yet. When I feel myself leaning towards doing either of those things I bring myself back to the moment and center myself. It is still a work in progress but quitting these two things combined with my gratitude practice has allowed me to be in the flow of life much more than before. Can’t wait to hear what you choose to quit!

    • Those both sound like things that I would do well to quit too! My problem at the moment is that I can think of long lists of things that I would do well to quit, so I need to pare that down to a reasonable number to actually focus on to get started, or I’ll wind up just as overwhelmed as always. It’s that over-achiever in me gone haywire …
      I’m really delighted to hear that those two “quits” along with the gratitude practice is having such a positive effect for you! That’s very encouraging to hear. Thanks for sharing.

  3. KJ – that is a great way to look at things. I have been doing it without even thinking about it. In my journey I have took out the negative “what if” question. For instance, “what if” I fall off the bridge as I am riding over it. Before, I would ponder that question for hours clogging my thoughts instead of thinking of more important things like the positive “what if”. “positive what if” I started blogging what would I write about. Now here I have posted about 25 post and started reading more. I have started my business as a Health Coach and am launching myself into the future instead of dwelling on what may or may not come about.
    Thank you for sharing and bringing to light what I am doing.

    • Thanks for sharing your journey, Vicki! It sounds like you’ve been making some wonderful changes that are having many positive results for you. I’m glad that my thoughts helped you shine a light on what is working so well for you. I wish you many blessings on your continued journey!

  4. I LIKE the phrase “mindful quitting” above. I think two major places in my life where I’ve seen quitting have very positive effects are books & jobs. I no longer require myself to finish a book or stick it out at a job that, a few chapters or months in, is still jarring with my soul. Thank you for blogging about this – it feels like a very counter-cultural topic!!!

    • Yes, she phrased that beautifully, didn’t she? I like that as well. What great examples of quitting mindfully you give. I’ve learned to let myself quit books that are not proving to be helpful, and I’ve also quit jobs that are “jarring with my soul” (as you so beautifully put that), but I’m still slower on the job quitting than I’d like to be. I consider counter-cultural to be high praise, so thank you greatly! 🙂

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