Stick-to-it-ness and Overwhelming-itis

Interesting note about this post: I almost “quit” it – yes, it almost never got published. (In fact it posted a day later then intended.) Was it worth it to “stick through it” to the end? Should I have just passed it by and not hit publish? You be the judge…

“Once You learn how to quit, it becomes a habit.”

~ Vince Lombari

QUESTION: Is this quote true? How do you know when to quit something and when to stick with it?

As I work at the ongoing struggle to maintain balance in my busy life, I’ve noticed that occasionally I have trouble distinguishing between whether I am just temporarily overwhelmed by OR truly dislike and need to give up on a commitment I have agreed to take on.

For example, there are days (usually in the spring) as a teacher when I feel like sometimes I just want to quit. Maybe out of frustration because I am not getting through to my students, or occasionally because I might feel undervalued, overworked, or not appreciated.

Yet then…

Summer comes and I get a break from the struggles of teaching. And typically, when fall arrives, I return feeling refreshed, renewed and re-energized – ready to tackle the hardships and challenges that come with education and teaching a diverse group of students. And again – I love the job.

In hindsight, it seems that most of my frustration in teaching is more often due to the well-documented fact that in the spring I start to get overwhelmed in other aspects of my life.

I have taught college students for nearly 12 years now and most every year I recognize the same pattern: spring brings feelings of frustration and by fall those same frustrated feelings have all but disappeared.

And it is in recalling this pattern from teaching, that I’ve learned with all my commitment decisions:

a.) I need to give myself time to process and evaluate my choices
b.) I shouldn’t make quick, rash decisions to quit something without really thinking through the consequences of those decisions.

The Consequences of Quitting

Source: via Melissa on Pinterest

We are all looking for our “easy button.” And regardless of how simple it sounds, quitting something is never easy because often it involves:

  • Letting other people down,
  • Letting yourself down, and
  • Giving yourself a nasty case of “guilt.”

However, even through all its discomforts and hardships, quitting is still often the easier way out. It typically takes much more work to get through the tough times than to just quit.

What does it take to be successful at something?

Sometimes it takes talent, but many times it just takes a little follow through, perseverance and commitment. Most importantly, being successful often takes having a clear sense of self and priorities before deciding what you want to be successful at.

Questions Without Clear Answers

Every responsibility we take on tends to have a “honeymoon” stage, and eventually this honeymoon stage does end. And just like a marriage, any project we commit to takes time to make it a success.

So, back to the questions at hand: When do you quit something and when do you stick with it? Does quitting become a habit?

I struggle with this. My only good solution has been to attempt to take preventative action. I tend to put a lot more thought into my initial decision-making process of what TO and what NOT TO take on. (Perfect example: how this blog began)

Once I do make a decisions to pursue something, I tend to be much more successful at reaching the planned end result because I truly committed to it. However, on the flip side, occasionally by taking the time I felt I needed to thoroughly think through a choice, I over-evaluate things and miss out on opportunities.

Yes, I get easily overwhelmed.
Yes, I often need to go back and review my priorities.
Yes, sometimes I just feel like quitting – quitting whatever at the time is overwhelming me.

And yes, I do think that once you learn how to quit – it does start to become a habit.
Yet sticking with things and riding out the overwhelmed feelings I am finding also becomes a habit.

Which habit would you rather have?

“Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.”
~ Lance Armstrong

Leave a Comment: Do you think quitting can become a habit? How do you decide whether to quit something you haven’t finished yet OR carry on through the tough times? Do you ever jump into something and realize later that you might have made a rash decision?


This week I am “pouring my heart out” and linking up with Shell
at Things I Can’t Say to participate in her “Pour your Hear Out” blog carnival.

I am also linking up with Bianca at Bits of Bee for her Quotable Bits Link-up.

This entry was posted in Blogging and/or Writing, Family and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Stick-to-it-ness and Overwhelming-itis

  1. angela says:

    It’s interesting that I read this post today. I am having a hard time finding a balance between letting my blog find its way organically and coming up with a more deliberate and specific plan for both blogging and writing. I’m saying yes to a lot of things in a lot of different areas of my life, and I’m wondering where I’m really making strides and where I’m simply spinning my wheels.
    angela recently posted..In My Bag–Be Enough Me

    • Kate F. says:

      I’m not really certain why I began this post Angela. All I knew when I started writing it was that I felt like a rush of “busyness” had just swarmed through my life. I felt overwhelmed with everything – this blog, kids activities, teaching, work, life in general.

      My rule of thumb is never to post here on my personal blog unless I REALLY feel like I have something to say. Yet, over and over and over again I have to convince myself re-tell myself that I really don’t care if people read here or not and this is my “fun spot.” Lately, blogging here hasn’t felt like fun and instead more like work.

      With that said, I think I am going to stick with it… I just need to get through the tough times… It can be hard to hold yourself accountable to finish things that you like (most of the time) – but can lead occasionally to too much time spent away from your family and kids.

  2. Pamela says:

    Kate, I have this struggle sometimes; particularly with writing choices that are part of the big picture plan but aren’t “ideal” in the short term. Sometimes, I find that it is hard to tell whether something is worth a time and energy investment, or whether it’s just our feelings of being overwhelmed or exhausted that cause these feelings. Sorting through that takes some time and in the meantime, sometimes the feelings lift, like you describe. Thanks for articulating this well; I try to explain this dilemma to my husband, but haven’t gotten clear on it until I read your post!
    Pamela recently posted..To Market, To Market….Playing “Shop N’Go”

    • Kate F. says:

      I’m so glad I could help. I think that this is why I had such a hard time hitting publish on this post originally – I wasn’t sure if I had articulated my thoughts and points well. Sometimes you really just need to sit on something, think on it, come back to it and not make a rash decision.

      It helps to know that you “got it” though Pamela! Thanks!

  3. Bits of Bee says:

    I’m so glad you decided to publish this post, it’s so true, and the timing couldn’t be more perfect for me to read this. Thanks for sharing! I say, never hit delete when you write a post, if you wrote it, it’s usually because it’s something you wanted to say 🙂
    Bits of Bee recently posted..A Wild 5th Birthday & Some Quotable Bits (#20)

  4. Justin says:

    I don’t think quitting is necessarily a habit, but it does become easier with time. However, I personally tend to see things through to some end. That end may change (for instance, it may mean developing a strategy to pass something on to someone else), but I try not to quit mid-stride without a really good reason.

    Regarding blogging and writing, I’ve been finding that the most successful blogs are ones that the author loves writing. Blogs really are journals – they just happen to be ones that other people read, and in an ideal situation, like. Don’t keep yourself on a deadline. If you don’t write for a week, I don’t think anyone here is going to care. That doesn’t mean stop, but if you need a break, take one, and don’t worry about it 🙂

    • Kate F. says:

      That is a great way to put it Justin: Quitting becomes easier with time… AND with experience I think 🙂

      And I totally agree with you about writing and blogging and also about needing to write for yourself and not others. It is one of the reason why I only post here once a week. I want to post if and when I really have something to say. Yet the flip side is that sometimes I have something to say (no wait, LOTS to say!) and I don’t give it the time it deserves to be said and written well. Its always a struggle juggling between family and your own needs, isn’t it?

      • Justin says:

        Quite so! I feel extremely lucky that I have a really good balance right now (overall) – it was a long time coming! Although there are many times when the balance isn’t perfect – I have to wait for this or that, or more often for all of us not to be sick for a length of time 🙂
        Justin recently posted..What I did (and did not) learn at the bar…

  5. Kristen says:

    I heard a great quote at Bloggy Boot Camp this weekend. “Everytime you say yes to something, you are saying no to something else.” It means we can’t do everything. Sometimes quitting is a necessary. I don’t think it becomes a habit. Sometimes, I think it opens doors to new opportunities. It is not a decision made lightly though.
    Kristen recently posted..Bloggy Boot Camp & Girls Lunch Out in Philly 2012

    • Kate F. says:

      I’ve heard that quote before and LOVE it! Quitting one thing definitely can be good and it can also open doors to new opportunities as you said. It is when quitting happens over and over again and nothing seems to get finished that I think it becomes troublesome. There are always going to be tough times – it is knowing which tough times to tackle and which are just not worth the struggle that always gets me… EVERY TIME.

  6. Jamie says:

    Do what you can when you’re able. In life we often get burnt out, that’s why you feel refreshed and rejuvenated after time away. By the spring, routines are broken into, the excitement of summer being right around the corner, it all can get to be too much.

    But in those moments, it’s about finding the balance to keep us going.

    • Kate F. says:

      Ohhhh, the elusive balance… where art thou? 🙂 I need to get better at dealing with “unbalance” because it seems unbalanced is where I am at the majority of the time. And when balance does hit, by the time I realize that I feel a sense of equilibrium – BAM! It disappears!

  7. Pish Posh says:

    Ack!! I feel a lot of this myself right now!! Guilt, responsibility, difficulty concentrating, overwhelmingitis.
    Pish Posh recently posted..Pour Your Heart Out: Metaphysical Constipation

    • Kate F. says:

      Yes, I know! Your post (Metaphysical Constipation) was one of the first PYHO posts that I read, and BOY did I relate! I will leave a comment over there! 🙂

  8. Kelly
    Twitter: kelsey_bar

    Great post. This is something that everyone can relate to…quitting can certainly be the easy way out. But often winds up making things more difficult in the end. Very glad you posted this…

    • Kate F. says:

      Sometimes there is a need to quit something… but if one finds themselves quitting over and over, that is often when I think it is time to re-evaluation our decision process.

  9. BonnyBard says:

    You’re so right, the best thing to do is to always put some thought in the things we take on before we do it. I think a balance is necessary in all things, quitting occasionally isn’t a bad thing, sometimes we have to start things to see if they are a right fit for us, but we also need to stick with things long enough to see if we’re quitting for the right reasons. It all comes down to balance in my opinion and thinking through our choices. Great post, food for thought! (Visiting from Shell’s)

    • Kate F. says:

      That is such a great point Bonny

      “We also need to stick with things long enough to see if we’re quitting for the right reasons.”

      I definitely agree that life changes, and eventually there are some things that we just need to quit. What counts is that we gave these things a fair chance and ample time to pursue them properly. Thanks for the great additional thought!

  10. Susi says:

    A perfect post for this time in my life. It’s been crazy busy with many things cropping up here and there. I feel like I’m all over the place and look forward to next week… two more half days and our Summer can begin. I can breathe a sigh of relief. Sometimes you have to stick with it, but sometimes, as was the case with me yes, it is necessary to quit but that didn’t make it easy. Not at all.
    Susi recently posted..Lederhosen and Dirndls ~ Wordless Wednesday

    • Kate F. says:

      Sometimes it is necessary to quit. In fact, anyone who says they have never quit something EVER I would be very tempted to call their bluff. It is when quitting become habitual that I worry about it… because it can become harder and harder to decipher what is worth working through and what is better left undone…

      Thanks for stopping by Susi! Enjoy your summer in 2 days time!!!!!

  11. Shell says:

    I think quitting can become a habit for sure. I feel guilty if I quit something, but found that once I did it once, it made it easier to do it the next time.
    Shell recently posted..Pour Your Heart Out: You Must Be a Runner

    • Kate F. says:

      That is exactly how I feel –> Once I start quitting it is easier to do it the next time I don’t want to work through my hard times. And working through the tough times – no matter how difficult it sometimes is – can be worth the struggle most of the time in the end.

  12. RoryBore
    Twitter: rorybore

    bravo….so glad you published it!
    It’s so difficult to determine when something just requires perseverance and some elbow grease……or when it is truly time to throw in the towel, so to speak. Quitting can definitely become a habit, I agree. If you find yourself continually leaving things unfinished, then yes, you probably should examine your motives next time before saying yes.
    For me, it comes down to the heart I guess. Is my heart truly in it, or did I take this on for some other reason. Perhaps a reason that is not entirely “worthy” or even “honourable”. Is this something that truly fits with where I am in life right now – or where I would want to be? Because certainly we can let somethings go that are just “stuff” taking up our already precious time.
    Such a great question – one that truly does require some intense self reflection.
    RoryBore recently posted..Quotable Bits #20: Outside Inspiration

    • Kate F. says:

      Is your heart truly into something… that is a great question to ask Rory. Yet it also sometimes stumps me… because based on my mood, the craziness of my day, and a boatload of other things, sometimes my priorities can shift. Intense self reflection is definitely a necessity.

      I am really glad I hit publish on this one. It really reminded me that if you stick with something, sometimes the rewards in the end far outweigh the troubles in the beginning. Thanks for stopping by again Rory! I always enjoy your comments.

  13. I rarely quit something. It has to be utterly awful for me to quit. And that’s why I totally agree with you that you should think hard before saying yes. It’s kind of the basis behind my service or self post from last week. Because I want to be very careful what I take on in the future. Great post – as usual!
    Missy | The Literal Mom recently posted..Things They Can’t Say – I’m So There Today

    • Kate F. says:

      We do tend to see eye to eye on most things don’t we? I loved your Service or Self post last week because it is always something I struggle with too. Ultimately, we are doing people a favor if we say no to something in which we don’t have the time, commitment, passion or energy for. We just can’t do everything and do it well.

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