On Quitting (and Knowing My Limits) – Day 36

This is a self-pep talk as much as anything, so be warned…

Quitting is something I really don’t like to do.

Whether I’m starting a task, a hobby, a sport, a job, or any other number of things, I want to see whatever I’m doing through to the end. A major reason for this motivation is that I don’t want to be seen as a quitter; I want to be seen as reliable and as a hard worker, but the drive not to be seen in the negative is more of a push than the other positive aspects. In some cases, this has led me not to do or try new things; in other cases, this has meant I overworked myself or spent too long doing something I didn’t want to. Once I’ve committed to something, I feel the need to stick with what I’m doing until and external factor stops me.

I recently left my job, and it was the first time I’ve quit without having something else immediately available. It was an interesting (and unfortunate) experience, but it was the first time where I left when I knew the job and I weren’t working out together. It was also interesting to contemplate all of the reasons for leaving, to weigh consequences that would and/or could come from leaving the job, and come out of the equation with the result I decided upon.

(At this point, I do want to acknowledge that I’m still being fairly vague about the job. The reason for this cover multiple topics; I will be discussing more about what the job was in the future, which may end up covering some of the reasons for leaving, but I’d like to leave as much unpresented information as possible for that time. Additionally, I don’t think it’s helpful or beneficial to speak poorly of someone or something, and I don’t want any presentation of the job or what I did to come across from that perspective. I will let everyone know when some sort of post about this topic is immanent.)

Knowing my limits is something that is much more difficult for me. Since I don’t like thinking of myself as a quitter and I don’t want other people to think of me as a quitter, I will often continue to do something well past the time I probably should have stopped. I’ve felt this way in multiple situations, from school to work to extracurriculars to life, in many cases to my detriment. I’ve dealt with health issues (mental and physical) from pushing myself, but between my projected perceptions, my (often) less assertive nature, and my desire in many cases to do something I’m not able to do, I persist in unnecessary ways.

Thinking about knowing my limits is something I’ve done more in the last year as I’ve been trying to learn more about myself and how to put myself in the best situations to succeed. As I’ve come to know and recognize more about myself, and as I’ve learned more from my past experiences, understanding my limits has become clearer, though I do still push these limits more often than is probably necessary. At the same time, I’ve also learned that quitting something is sometimes necessary. There are times when the only way to move forward or grow into something new is to move on from what you’ve been doing and to step into a less-comfortable, less-secure period (though this still should be done thoughtfully instead of brazenly).

Quitting is on my mind right now more because of this blog project than anything. I’ve found it difficult to maintain momentum and to reach my (arbitrary) word count every day. I thought that having a little more time on my hands would lend itself well to writing, when in fact I’ve continued to push writing later and later into the evening (OK, into the night). My hope had been that writing more would both lead to more inspiration about what to write about and an improvement to the quality of my writing; instead, I’ve found difficulty in choosing a topic I thought I could write enough about to reach my goal, and I don’t know that my writing has improved in the process.

I do know, however, that my writing is much better when I have the time to edit the post. Some of my favorite posts thus far have been ones where I gave myself enough time think thoroughly about a topic and edit during and after writing. These are also times when hitting the word count isn’t as much of an issue.

This recognition leads me to two conclusions: either I prioritize the writing in such a way as to have the time to focus on writing, think deeply about a topic, and have the time to edit, or I keep writing late at night and shorten or remove the word count. While everything in me wants to do the latter, I think it will be better to do the former. In order to do this, I’ll need to have better focus on the whole process, which likely means I need to leave the house to write (and read and research and everything else associated with the project). I know how well I work at home, that it’s much easier to get distracted on the internet or doing other housework things, so it’s time to physically put myself in a place where I have a greater chance for success.

On top of this, I also look forward to writing more specifically about topics, something I get the chance to do when I give myself time to write. I wrote enough “personal reflection” sections in papers to know that I often remain vague when trying to get something done, a move that finishes the task but leaves a lot of information or connection under-covered.

So that is what I’ll be looking to begin this week. This will hopefully lead to more productive writing and more interesting posts than talking about how hard it is to write.

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