Whenever I hear someone say “fuck it”, my spider-senses get triggered, my ears open wide, and my vision becomes that of a hawk. I know someone is about to quit something. I’m not talking about the “I don’t give a fuck” attitude from being indifferent and utterly insecure. I’m talking about a genuine “fuck it” coming from the heart. A “fuck it” that will change the entire game for that person.
The words ‘fuck it’ are the most exciting words in the world. It’s a sign that change is around the corner, that something is about to happen, that there is an end and a new beginning.
Whenever you hear someone say “fuck it”, you know a decision has been made. A shift in the mind that finally made the person say “enough is enough. No matter the consequences, let’s fucking do it.”
Fuck it usually means one of two things:
1. Someone finally dares to make a long-overdue decision that will change their life forever.
2. It’s time to take out your camera because someone is about to do something incredibly stupid.
There are numerous books written about the words fuck it, but this isn’t a book, and this isn’t about just fuck it. This is about: fuck it, I quit.
Quitting has a bad rep, but it shouldn’t. Seth Godin wrote a short book about quitting called The Dip. According to Seth, there is a thin line between quitting and following through. The key is to know when to do which.
Starting with something new is always fun. It’s easy, you make a lot of progress, and you see daily growth, but then it happens: you get in a dip. The dip is the point where there’s hardly any progress, things get boring and hard, and you lose your motivation. This is the point where most people lose interest and quit. But, in the dip is where the real winners are born. Either they win by pushing through, or they win by quitting because that’s the right thing to do.
In the dip, there are two options when pushing through. Either you keep pushing, break through the dip and excel to the next level, or it’s a cul-de-sac as Seth calls it, a complete dead end. The trick is knowing which of the two it is.
There’s only one smart option when you reach a cul-de-sac, and that’s saying, “fuck it, I quit”. Pushing against a dead-end is like banging your head against a brick wall. You can keep doing it until your head gives in, but it’s a waste of time and probably a waste of your head as well.
Know when to quit
Knowing when to say “fuck it, I quit” is a vital skill to master, and when we look around in the world, it becomes clear many people haven’t reached mastery by a longshot. If they would have, burn-out and depression rates wouldn’t be so high, and people wouldn’t regret their lives on their deathbeds, people wouldn’t walk around like complete zombies, and, well, the list goes on, but you know where I’m going with this. Just know when to say “fuck it, I quit” and you’ll be fine.
Turns out the infamous ‘winners never quit and quitters never win’ quote isn’t as on point as we believe it is. The big winners have quit many times, and a lot of losers are still banging their heads against the wall because winners never quit, while it’s obvious they should have quit years ago.
The inescapable identity crisis
The reason why a lot of people don’t quit when they should, is that quitting is for the brave ones. Quitting takes big huevos (that’s Spanish for eggs, or in this case testicles, just in case you’re wondering). It takes guts and responsibility to say “fuck it, I quit” confidently.
We just don’t have what it takes to make the decision, and so the decision is in the hands of someone else. We don’t take the lead proactively, we simply react. As crippling as this strategy is, at least we are never to blame for the decision. The cost for this is immense since you live a life on everybody else’s terms, except yours.
You are not quitting, you are not making a decision. You simply wait for a decision made by another person. Change might come today, it might never. Even though you are ready, you just wait.
Reactive behavior leads to being stuck in a job you don’t really like, being stuck with friends you are fed up with, being stuck in habits that do more bad than good. You are stuck in the hall of your life. At least you won’t be alone because the majority of people are stuck in the hall, and some people live their entire lives there. There’s not much going on in the hallway, only a lot of talk about how you could, would and should have done something.
If you don’t want to pull the trigger, but want to complain about your situation, the hall is the ideal place to set up camp.
What will you choose?
The moment the question “should I stay or should I go” comes up, you’re in trouble. No matter what you choose, your life will change.
The question”should I stay or should I go” comes from being dissatisfied. Whether you stay or go doesn’t matter, your identity is at stake. If you choose to stay, because the job pays well, or because you know your friends for 20 years already and making new friends is hard, you choose to conform. You choose to kill a bit of your soul just to keep things the way they are. You’ve paid for the identity crisis with a part of your being. Now the crisis may be gone, but so is a piece of you. Keep repeating this process, and there won’t be much of you left.
When you choose the path of the brave and decide it’s time to go, your life will also change. It might change a little; it might change a lot. If you stand by your decision to quit with the full 100%, then all is good, all will be good, and probably even better.
Maybe you’ll have some hard times and struggles, but you can look at yourself in the mirror and be proud of taking the bold step of quitting. Just as in staying and conforming, there is a transaction in place. This time, however, the trade is vice versa from the example above. You went back to your supplier and gave their junk back because you’re unhappy with it. In return, you get a bit of your soul back, a bit of the real you. You lost something, but because you listened to your inner being, you came a step closer to the real you. You took a brave decision and got rewarded accordingly.
Ethics and values
Not being able to make decisions, is a sign you don’t really know who you are. You don’t really know what you value in life. When you are crystal clear about your values, making decisions is easy. If ethics is important to you and the company you work for does some shady shit, you’ll be out the door by the end of the day.
But if you don’t have your values in check, you’ll just linger along with a little knot in your belly, which you can’t place. Keep going down this path, and you’ll end up a tragedy that doesn’t know who he is.
Saying “fuck it, I quit” comes down to two things:
1.Knowing what your values are.
2. Having the guts to pull the trigger.
Why quitting is so important
We live in a world in which quitting and losing is seen as something terrible, but it’s not. Life is trial and error, and you have to figure things out to finally find what works for you. This involves a lot of losing and quitting. Sure, you can go through life without quitting and losing, but it’s like riding down someone else’s path on your bike with the side wheels still on. You’ll probably get somewhere sometimes, but it’s not where you need to be. Wouldn’t it be so much more fun to ride down your path in your – insert favorite vehicle -? Apart from not following your path, there’s more into play when it comes to quitting:
Firstly, quitting equals freedom. The freedom to become who you are meant to be.
To say yes to who you are, you have to say no to all the other things you’re not. Also, when you are able to quit relentlessly, you’ll feel more powerful than ever because you know you’re not stuck. Instead of dragging yourself through the week, because you don’t have the energy, you still wake up energized and ready to attack hard moments because you know you can quit anytime.
Hell yes, or no
Many great minds are advocates of saying “no” a lot. “It’s either a hell, yes! Or a no”, as Derek Sivers famously stated. This comes down to quitting everything that doesn’t make you say “hell, yes!” and being left with just the good stuff. Once you install this practice, you’ll find that 90% of your answers will be a no.
Marie Kondo wrote a #1 New York Times bestseller called ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing‘. Marie basically says to get rid of everything that doesn’t make you happy. You have to go through your clothes, books, even photos, hold them, and notice how it makes you feel. If it doesn’t make you warm and fuzzy inside, get rid of it. I did this, and I don’t have a lot of things anymore, but everywhere I look, there are things that make me happy. A simple and happy life.
Quit and find yourself
By quitting a lot of things that take up time, space, energy, and even identity, you create the freedom for new things that are more in line with what you really want.
Not quitting leads to a comfortable, mediocre life. Again, Derek Sivers enters the stage. Whenever he feels too comfortable, he quits. He knows being comfortable means you’ve reached the end of your potential in a given situation, and chances are you’re getting to a dead end. Even if he is in his dream job in his favorite country, he will quit his job and leave the country.
If you never quit something, you’ll never grasp the boundaries of what’s possible. You might be playing football all your life, while you where meant to be a baseball player. But, since you’ve never quit, you never experienced baseball.
Not quitting things leads to a mediocre, unsatisfied life. Adventure and curiosity are gone, and things become boring. It’s all, just ok.
Quitting everything is essential to really finding out who you are. If we want to go beyond the ego and really find out who we are, we have to let go of everything we are not. The ego is basically a false construct of who we want to be, but it’s not us. In fact, the ego can be harmful because it keeps us away from the soul. It will do whatever necessary to keep things as they are. It’s your personal gatekeeper, if you will.
Leave everything behind
Let’s say you are a bodybuilder who experiences some mobility problems. The therapist advises you to do some yoga because it will help stretch the muscles and you’ll be more flexible. But, this strokes you the wrong way. Deep inside, you know it’s the right thing to do, but now your ego takes over: “I’m the strongest guy in the gym, and yoga is for pussies. What will my buddies think? I will lose my gains. My therapist is wrong, I’m a real man, I’ll never do some splits in stretch pants.” All attempts of your ego to keep things as they are, while deep inside your real you knows it needs to get on the yoga mat to heal your body.
If you’re aware that you are not really in touch with yourself, and want to take the journey of finding yourself, it requires a lot of quitting as well. Adyashanti wrote an excellent book on the horrors of enlightenment, which is called “The End of Your World“. The title is spot on since it will be the end of your world as you know it. The bad news is everything is gone, and you’ll be left with just you. The good news is everything is gone, and you’ll be left with just you.
Former monk Dandapani also stresses the need to simplify things continually. Every year we accumulate more connections, more stuff, more things to do, but our life energy stays the same. We need to keep simplifying to be able to keep in touch with ourselves. Simplifying comes down to continually assessing what we want to keep in our lives and what we want to quit. It’s the same as what Marie Kondo describes as tidying up. So, in a nutshell:
To meet the real you, you have to be balsy enough to say shitloads of “fuck it, I quit”. Contrary to the soft and vague image spirituality has, it takes a shitload of fuck it’s to become the real enlightened motherfucker that you are.
Quitting just because the road gets hard is not what this article is about. It’s about using quitting to your advantage. Quitting is about creating room for new possibilities and to get closer to yourself. Quitting can cause a setback, a one step forward two steps back kinda thing. But, it doesn’t have to be this way. Quitting can actually be a one-step backward ten steps forward kinda thing. It can be the catapult that’s pulled back as far as possible to land among the stars kinda thing.
So, how do we do this? Let’s look at Charlo Green, who is responsible for the best segment of news ever. I don’t watch the news, but for her, I make an exception. Charlo was working as an Alaskan news reporter. Apart from being a news reporter, she is also the owner of the Alaskan Cannabis Club, a club that fights for the freedom of cannabis use in Alaska.
The war on drugs in Alaska was at an all-time high, and Charlo found herself in a predicament. While reporting the news, her side hustle, that is the Alaskan Cannabis Club, made it on news. She had to do some soul searching to find out what really was important to her since her day also has just 24 hours. She concluded her work to fight for freedom of cannabis use was more important than being a news anchor.
Charlo knows best
Charlo had her values in check (step 1) and realized it was time to put her huevos at work to pull the trigger for step 2. She could have just written a letter of resignation and leave silently, but being the boss that she is, she didn’t.
Charlo showed up to work to report the story on the war on drugs and took full advantage of the opportunity. Halfway through the story, she went off-script, raised awareness for the freedom of cannabis use in Alaska, and promoted her work at the Alaska Cannabis Club on live national television. In the end, she made it clear working for the news station isn’t an option anymore and ended with the infamous words “fuck it, I quit”, and walked off stage. The news station and the world were shocked. What the fuck just happened?
This is gorilla marketing at it’s best. Not only did Charlo created awareness on live television, but she also generated massive media attention for her and the Alaskan Cannabis Club. She catapulted her way out of her old life into a new one among the stars.
Ask yourself this
This is obviously a fantastic story, but before you start putting something similar into play, ask yourself a couple of questions first. Ask yourself: Why do I want to quit, what’s behind it on a deeper level? What’s going on why I feel this way? What do I want to do instead? If I’m going to quit, how can I quit so I can benefit the most? Should I even be quitting, or is this just a temporary dip?
Everything pans out, and it’s time to quit, but you can’t say the magic words? Feeling overwhelmed by the possible effects quitting has and lack the huevos to make the jump? Enter stoicism.
A Stoic practice for decision making
Even when you’re entirely in line with who you are and know what’s most important to you, deciding to quit can still be scary. No worries, the stoics faced similar problems thousands of years ago. The ancient stoic philosophy is becoming much more popular lately, and for good reasons. One of the stoic principles for decision making is visualizing the worst-case scenario. It’s a simple two-step practice that makes it clear that the consequences are often not as horrible as we imagine, and in many cases, are reversible. To put this in practice, do this:
Step 1: Visualization
Visualize what’s the worst thing that can happen. Get crystal clear on what can happen and how.
Step 2: Mitigation
Can you live with this worst-case scenario? Is it, for example, acceptable for you to live on your mother’s couch and eat ramen for a while if you quit your job and your startup fails?
If the answer is yes, make the decision. If the answer is no, don’t. That’s it. While doing this practice, you can come up with tactics to reduce the risk, minimize damage, or to bounce back when the worst-case scenario takes place, which often doesn’t.
So, are you ready to say “fuck it, I quit”? Are you ready to get closer to who you are, and quit everything that doesn’t align with the real you? Are you ready to say, either “hell yes! Or no”, or are you just going to linger through life on someone else’s terms?
All it takes is knowing your values and some huevos.
Photo credit: Unknown source (please let me know if you know who to credit)