Life is too short to hold on to things that don’t serve you.
Between all the projects I’ve started, stopped, and resumed, I’ve identified some specific questions I ask myself when I am not sure whether or not to continue spending time on a project.
Sometimes, the project becomes too time-consuming; other times, I lose the fire that was once inside me to pursue it. No matter where you are when you start getting “The Quits,” I suggest taking a hard look at your time spent on your project through five lenses.
5 Questions For Could-Be Quitters
- Does spending time on this project serve my long-term goals?
- Am I passionate about spending time on this project?
- Is spending time on this project productively impacting my life?
- Is spending time on this project taking time away from other priorities?
- Is this project something I can resume at a later date?
Let’s unpack these questions
Does spending time on this project serve my long-term goals?
If you haven’t done any long-term goal planning, this is an excellent place to start. Author Laura Vanderkam suggests writing out a List of 100 Dreams to begin considering where your time should be going (and if you’re spending it in the right places). If you don’t want to spend the time writing out 100 Dreams (my first time trying it I couldn’t get past about 20), you could try jotting down the five most important things you want to achieve.
Consider where you want to be in five or ten years before turning back to your project. Does it fit? If it doesn’t, will you be okay with knowing you chose to spend precious time working towards this project instead of your goal?
Am I passionate about spending time on this project?
I have a pesky habit of thinking I’m passionate about something when, in reality, I’m just doing it for the wrong reasons. I’ve tried any number of get-rich-quick schemes that don’t, ultimately, strike any passion within me.
Take a good look at your project. Are you passionate about it? Are you finding yourself inspired by it during the day? Are you excited to share news about it with your friends?
If you’re finding yourself avoiding this project or making excuses not to complete it — it might make you happier to walk away.
Is spending time on this project productively impacting my life?
Sometimes our time spent is constructive, and other times, our time spent is wasteful or destructive.
Ask yourself what you are building with the time you’re spending on this project.
If you’re not making yourself or the space around you better — maybe it’s time to put this project down.
Is spending time on this project taking time away from other priorities?
It should come as no surprise that when you choose to spend your time in one area of your life, you’re doing that at the expense of something else. And that might be perfectly fine, depending on what that is. You may choose to start a new painting class that happens at the same time as your indoor cycling class, knowing you’re sidelining the bike to pick up a paintbrush.
On the other hand, there are projects that take time away from our well-being and relationships. In my own experience, I tend to go down the rabbit hole on my online projects and suddenly forget my husband, home, and dogs exist. When my projects begin to take time away from the areas of my life I cherish most, I have enough red flags to start slowing down or hit the pause button.
Is this project something I can resume at a later date?
You don’t have to do it all right now.
While we shouldn’t waste our lives, the time we spend on this earth can be (if you’re lucky) long and fruitful. Most of us aren’t psychics. We can’t say for sure if stopping something now closes the door on it forever.
Choosing to stop something today does not mean you can’t pick it back up in a week, month, or year (or ever, if that suits you). Sometimes your project isn’t best for your current season of life. Setting something down with acceptance (rather than guilt) allows you to come back later with a fresh, wiser perspective — or grace for choosing to stop something that doesn’t serve you.
Quitters Get a Bad Wrap
Fortunately, spending time on any commitment teaches you skills that you can apply to future jobs or projects. The work you’ve done so far wasn’t a waste in the grand scheme of things. There comes a time, however, when that learning stops and you’re just spinning your wheels.
Quitting has a bad connotation, but it doesn’t have to. Sometimes, stopping means you chose, instead, to start something better for you. Only you can decide whether or not something is serving you — and if you could be spending that time more productively.