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.
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.
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.”