On Quitting and Wrecking – WTJ Week 7

So a day or two or three ago, I read Gretchen Wegner’s Week 7 post for Wreck This Journal, where she tells us she may be done wrecking.

Gretchen wondered,

My journal has been sitting on top of my bedside table, and I haven’t cracked it open once this week.

So — am I being lazy and blocked? Or intuitive and complete? Or just resting?

Time will tell.

And that got me thinking about my own wrecking (or lack thereof) this week, and about quitting in general.

I haven’t picked up my Journal since I burned it and it whacked me in the face. (No, I don’t think the face-whacking is the underlying cause for not picking it up.)

So what’s going on here?

Partly it’s life busy-ness.

There’s work.

And all the stuff I’m trying to do to help my back problems (Pilates, PT).

Staying fit is really quite time-consuming when the majority of your time is spent with your ass glued to a chair in front of the computer. Takes a lot of activity to counteract all that sitting.

Partly it’s having other creative outlets that are more pressing.

I’m getting ready to overhaul my website, so that it will better support my coaching business.

I’ve been picking colors. And generally trying to make things look pretty. Or at least not horrifying – I’m no designer!

Overall, I haven’t felt like I needed to do anything more in the realm of creativity.

Partly, the novelty has worn off.

I set out to wreck the journal, and I’ve done some significant wreckage. But in some ways I feel like I’ve been there, done that.

I think perhaps I’ve gotten all I can get out of it for now.

But am I just giving up?

Even the wording of the question is pretty loaded, if you think about it.

“Giving up” has a built-in should. As in, I should keep going, but it’s (or I’m) too fill-in-the-blank so I give up.

And then there’s that pesky “just” thrown in for good measure.  My soul sister, Eileen, has written beautifully about the dangers of that four-letter word.

What am I trying to say?

I don’t know if it’s an American culture thing, or if it’s a kids-raised-in-the-70s-and-80s thing, but I think Quitting has gotten a bad rap.

I remember getting lots of implicit (and not so implicit) anti-quitting messages when I was growing up.

Things I was discouraged from trying, because it was assumed I’d go/do/make/whatever once, and never again.

Art supplies and toys I was discouraged from buying for the same reasons.

When I developed a fear of heights in gymnastics and asked to quit, I was told I had to continue for a while longer (maybe to finish the season – I don’t even remember).

Now, don’t get me wrong. There can be value in continuing despite the lack of desire – there’s the whole thing of integrity and fulfilling commitments and discipline. And there’s also value in giving something enough time to see how we really feel about it.

And yet somehow, I know I’ve gotten the message that quitting equals failure. I don’t think I’m alone in that.

Even the word “quit”, for me at least, equates to failure.

Why is quitting perceived so often as failure?

Why can’t quitting something be about moving toward more of what we want? We’re giving up something so that we can have something else we want more.

Is it always okay to quit?

Maybe. Maybe not.

The answer to this question depends entirely on the person asking it.

It all goes back to patterns. What are your patterns around “quitting”?

My patterns are that when I want to stop doing something I’ve said I was going to do, I feel guilty. I tend to view myself as a failure, and I have a hard time giving myself permission to just stop.

Someone else might have a pattern of quitting at the earliest sign of difficulty. That doesn’t mean you should force yourself to continue – it’s important to be compassionate toward yourself when investigating patterns.

If you’re interested in learning more about your own patterns, I highly recommend trying Dance of Shiva. You’ll start noticing patterns large and small in your life. I credit it with helping me see my own patterns around quitting.

So how do you know when you should or shouldn’t quit?

This takes time and conscious investigation.

Some questions I’ve been kicking around lately (followed by my answers regarding the Wreck This Journal experiment):

How does doing the thing in question make me feel?

Sometimes I feel pressure to do more wrecking than I have time for, and put more effort into it than I really want to, so that I can “keep up” with all the other awesome wreckers.

How does the prospect of stopping make me feel? (Will I miss it? Will I be relieved?)

I would feel like I’m breaking a commitment, because I announced my plans to participate on my blog. But I would also feel some relief that it wasn’t hanging over my head.

What were my reasons for starting the thing in question to begin with? (Maybe the thing isn’t giving me what I thought it would.)

I wanted to feel more creative and spontaneous. Maybe I had unreasonable expectations that it would be Life Changing.

Why do I want to stop doing the thing? (Is it making me happy or unhappy? Or is it actually pushing my buttons?)

I’m aware of self-imposed pressure. Sometimes I have a lot of fun wrecking, but sometimes it feels more like a chore. There is some button-pushing around fun and how to have more of it.

Am I looking at this in an either/or way? (Do I really have to “continue” or “stop”? Or can I just stop for a while? Or even “not do” for a while?)

Very interesting – I’ve been feeling like I was “quitting” because there is a schedule based on The Next Chapter Book Club. But just because I didn’t wreck this week, and may not wreck next week, that doesn’t mean I can’t pick up the journal and wreck some more the week or month after that.

So for now, I’m going to try not to focus on maintaining an externally-imposed schedule. Maybe I’ll wreck some more, maybe I won’t.

I’m committed to being conscious of how I’m feeling about not-wrecking, and will re-evaluate my choices later. It’s all learning.

But am I really trying to justify quitting when I should be pressing on?

Gretchen said it perfectly: “Time will tell.”

16 thoughts on “On Quitting and Wrecking – WTJ Week 7

  1. judipatootie

    my two cents worth ” I think it has unlocked something you arent comfortable with..”

    I was havinag a blast, fun, then i started feeling I should compete.. duh? then it began ti open up old problm in my life.. and then pow.. nw ones.. so i figure I needed it.

    Now I am back to laughing at myself over what silly fun it has been and how many people i have involved.

    Like any form of creativity..it is all so very personal

    what is finished? Everything i do i consider a works in progress

    i think its great that you have has some serious response to Wrecking.. you will know what and why.. maybe not today

    judipatootie’s last blog post..World Upside Down

  2. Gretchen Wegner

    Hi Victoria…Wow! How lovely to see my innocent words propel a delicious tumble of musings from you. I so resonate with much of what you said — from the seeds of competition popping up to unreasonable expectations to having lots of other creative projects going on for you.

    I love the idea of quitting being ALSO about moving towards something we want. Hmmmmm…what am I moving towards right now that I really want?

    Big hugs to you!

    Gretchen Wegner’s last blog post..Wreck This Journal, Week Seven

  3. Sarah M. Greer

    Hey Victoria,

    This reminds me so much of a post I wrote a while ago about quitting. In it, I examine my inability to stop doing things I don’t want to do. (I am a horrible quitter.) The big revelation for me was that letting go of something that doesn’t work lets you move on to something that does.

    I’ve had a lot more practice quitting things in the last 3 years, starting with quitting my advertising job to pursue singing full time. And at each fork in the road, I ask myself does this move me toward or away from the thing(s) I want to being doing?

    I find it interesting (and comforting) to observe that so many of us who are in the building states seem to be having similar conversations with ourselves.

    So repeat after me. “It’s okay to quit” (unless you really don’t want to. *wink*)

    If you’re interested, you can read the entire post at http://www.songtaneous.com/blog/finding-the-grit-to-quit/


    Sarah M. Greer’s last blog post..Food For Thought (#13)

  4. LaWendula

    I think there can be only only answer: if it’s a real joy for you to wreck- do it! If not: don’t! Don’t do it, because others say it’s so wonderful. We are all different, maybe you just needed to do some pages.
    Don’t do it, because you don’t want to be the only one, who quits….if you feel like quitting, then do it! There are no wrongs in wrecking!
    Maybe the only work, the journal had to do for you, was to re-think about quitting in your life.
    I think, it has done a great job!

    PS: Quitting isn’t an american thing, Germans do quit a lot of things too. ;)

  5. Kavindra

    One thing I love about this book is the deep ponderings and revelations about ourselves it seems to evoke … at least in some of us who are maybe prone to be more philosophical.

    My revelations have been along different lines, but surprising and helpful none the less. I hated this book at first, now it’s like the best 13 bucks I ever spent – much cheaper than a 50 minute hour on the couch! :)

    Kavindra’s last blog post..A Wonderful Nurse, a New Visitor, and a Surprise

  6. jamie

    There must be this magical chemistry between this crazy little book and the smart, creative women that are engaging with it because out comes the most extraordinary range of brilliance, silliness, creativity, deep thought, laughter, questions and all sorts of other goodies.

    You’re bringing up lots of great questions around quitting, completion, motivation, energy, self-trust, expectations. Wow, there’s so much in there. Thank you for sharing all this richness.

    And just as it’s never too late to join The Next Chapter, it’s never to early to quit. Whatever you decide is perfect. Wherever and whenever you go, you’re always welcome back, whole-heartedly.

    jamie’s last blog post..A New Moon ~ A New Practice

  7. Natalia

    I think doing something you don’t enjoy simply sucks.

    Maybe you find it a bad thing to quit not only because quitting has a bad rep in your mind, but because it also has a bad rep in our culture and you are worried that those around you will think badly of you for quitting. (They probably wouldn’t, but sometimes we get paranoid like that anyway.)

    I know what you mean. I start a lot of projects and leave them behind. I do this with books, art projects, decorating, neatness (oh, if you could see my work area! …let’s keep it so you don’t…) and more. And I don’t feel too bad about it. It bothers me slightly. I sort of hide it from others. I think if I told my friends, “You know how I started to X? Yeah, I gave that up. Whatever,” I would feel guilty. And it would be because I would be afraid they would associate my quitting with loser-ness and other bad things and then associate them to ME! (Did you notice all those “would”s? Terrible.) So, there you have one of my secrets. (Shh!)

    Let’s see – what is the worst thing that could happen if you quit this project? It might help to answer that question.

    And apart from that, I think it would be sweet to employ the Havi-esque “giving yourself permission” tactic to do what you feel most comfortable doing. So give yourself permission to not work on that book – until you feel like it again, which may or may not happen. And work on whatever you like instead, whatever you have more fun doing. Screw activities that go stale.

    Yay fun!

  8. Michelle | When I Grow Up Coach

    I wish I saw this post last week! I, too, have been having an on-again, off-again love affair with my journal, and there was at least a week’s time when I thought, “That’s it. I’m done.” And I’m with you – that would have been OK. No big deal. No harm done to anyone at all.

    But then I realized: There will be harm to me.

    I knew that the reason I wasn’t picking up my journal was because I was scared of it. Scared to be made a fool of (ask someone to wreck it? TAKE IT FOR A WALK?!?!?!), scared of being bored, scared of tapping into my creativity & having to own it, scared of tapping into my creativity & having it be ugly & sucky.

    I really like your questions – they bring all of my reasoning home for me. And even though the deadline will be up next week & I won’t be done until, oh, September, I’m gonna keep wrecking for me. And I think that’s the difference. If you’re not doing it for you…that’s when it’s time to quit.

  9. organicsyes

    Yes…what you said…all of it…there for me too…I began an on-line book study…many people contributed at the start…then dwindled.

    Some apologized, some ignore the posts, guilt all around with quitting. But…they have since come back to different chapters, or dropped the book all together…really, makes no difference. We take what we need, give when we need…it comes around…stops, comes back in different ways…

    I think I am about dropping the guilt now…thanks for your post.

  10. Eileen

    (*hee hee* totally tickled to be quoted by the insightful Victoria*)

    Whoa, this is a question I have struggled with my entire life. I’m definitely in the “Quitting is underrated” camp, but you’re right about figuring out why we’re doing it…Ah, mindfulness. Practice, practice :) Thank you my dear!

  11. Ana

    Things fall into place, when you are ready to open yourself to that experience.
    Happy to know you went with the flow, and welcomed this new experience. :)
    Keep Shining!
    .-= Ana´s last blog ..Music for the Soul =-.

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