Letting go is one of the hardest things to figure out in life. Probably because we associate “letting go” with “quitting” and our whole lives we’re told to “never give up.” So, any time you stop doing something you automatically feel like a loser because “Winners never quit, and quitters never win.” (Vince Lombardi). But the intention behind this mindset is to encourage you to never give up on your dreams. It doesn’t mean that you must hold on to things that no longer serve you, like a job, a life stage, or a relationship.
When you hold onto things unsuited to the type of life you want, eventually all those things become heavy and you begin to feel unfulfilled, depressed, and uninspired. And contrary to the “never quit” sentiment, feeling “stuck” causes you to lose your vision and the energy to pursue your goals and passions. It’s important to know that not everything in your life, career, or organization is meant to carry on, even if that little voice in your head is whispering, “Don’t quit!”
Letting Go vs. Quitting
Letting go and quitting have a lot of similarities. Both require walking away from something or someone and both are things we do to end something, permanently. The main difference between the two is all about perspective.
Quitting is about stopping something because it’s hard and you don’t want to put in the effort even though it’s something you really want. Quitting is emotional and filled with frustration or anger because something isn’t going as well as you thought. Typically, you quit because you lose sight of the big picture and lose the determination to get what you truly want, resulting in feelings of disappointment and guilt.
Letting go, on the other hand, no longer has an emotional attachment. Sure, walking away from someone or something that you either once cared about, or even still care about, can be hard. And often there are emotions involved. But ultimately, letting go is a feeling and action of peace and freedom. It’s a moment where you realize this person, thing, or situation isn’t serving you anymore. Typically, when you let go of something, you walk away from all the stress it created in your life and you feel as though a weight has been lifted.
How to recognize the difference
So how do you recognize the difference for yourself in the moment? Easy! Just ask yourself the question, “Why am I doing this?“
When you can really clarify why you’re doing something — why you’re doing it for you, not anyone else — it will either make you realize that you can’t quit and you need to persevere and keep working hard to get what you want, or it will make you realize that it’s time to let it go.
Sometimes there are feelings of guilt, because letting go means it may effect someone else and may make them feel sad for a moment, but that is not a reason why. Living in guilt does not serve you, and the why always has to be for YOU and your best interests. Remember that letting go of something isn’t denying its validity or its past importance on your life. It’s acknowledging that it has served it’s purpose but now it’s done, and moving on means moving up to the next stage of your life.
Never quit. Always let go.
To find success and true happiness, surround yourself with people and things designed to serve you and help you achieve your goals. If it ceases to bring you joy, or when you’ve done everything that you could but you’re not getting the results you need, or when you feel it’s no longer worth your time and energy…Let go. And in that moment you will feel a sense of freedom and calmness you didn’t even know your soul was desperately craving.