More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Shocking Truth: It?s Ok to Quit!
05 Dec 2007
by Steve Nguyen

We?ve all come to a certain point in our lives when we?ve asked ourselves questions like: ?Should I Stay or Should I Go?? or ?Should I Quit or Keep Chugging Along??

None of us is spared this dilemma and the older we get, the more ?forks in the road? we face. Joan Borysenko shared a few things about ?When to Call It Quits.? Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

?Am I riding a dead horse??
Basically, this says when the horse is dead, get off. While I am a big advocate for following your dreams, I am also a firm believer in realistic optimism. For instances, I can study day and night and yet somehow the theories of Calculus and Organic Chemistry escape me. This was the case with me struggling while a pre-med major at Baylor University. It didn?t dawn on me that my strengths just weren?t in the pure math and sciences because even though it came easier to my friends, it didn?t to me.

It took running out of mental steam or literally riding the horse until it died until I finally had to face the fact that I was not good with advanced math or pure science like chemistry.

In Vietnamese, when people describe a student as ?smart? they would say ?học giỏi? meaning ?study well? as in he/she studies well. They would use the word ?th?ng minh? to describe a person who is ?intelligent? but not when talking about a ?good student.? Vietnamese believes that if you studied hard enough that you could learn anything. The problem, however, is that it fails to differentiate between skill deficits and performance deficits. Skill deficits involve an inability to perform the appropriate behavior. For example, Ashley does not have the social problem-solving skills to interact appropriately with her peers on the playground. Thus, even if Ashley wanted to interact appropriately, she does not possess the required skills to do so. Performance deficits, on the other hand, is where a person is able to engage in the behavior but fails to do so.

?No one likes to admit failure or that a cherished dream is over, but letting go of what isn?t working frees up energy that?s better spent on something else.? ?Joan Borysenko, PhD
?Is the life I?m living the one I really want??
We?re told to color inside the line in grade school. We?re instructed to stand in the lunch line in junior high. We try to copy the popular kids? fashion in high school. And we?re expected to follow what society or our families demand of us in college and beyond.

When I was in Japan, I saw hundreds of men in black suits heading to work (called ?salarymen?) everyday. Then I would see another group of salarymen coming home after work similar to that scene from the movie, ?The Matrix.? It?s as if they wake up, wear the same outfits, head to work, work, and then return home. Everyday.

?The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.? ?Henry David Thoreau
?What am I afraid of??
When I wasn?t sure about how I would break the news to my parents how much I hated law school, my biggest fear was the look of disappointment on their faces. It?s amazing because to some of you reading this, that might sound ludicrous. We each have our own fears, things that we?re afraid of, things that we dread facing. For me, it?s letting my parents down. It?s something that has plagued me. Years later, after facing my inner demons, it now serves to inspire me.

I first had to admit to myself that I was afraid. Then I had to face that fear - head on.

?You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.? ?Eleanor Roosevelt

?I believe the only reason we?re here is to find out what we love?and get about the business of living it!? ?Oprah


I'm so glad to read this article. I'm feeling rather somber about several things and I'm glad to hear it's ok to quit trying. I'm tired of fighting and trying to be good at things I'm not. I just quit a research team on a topic I'm not interested in and I'm glad I did because I wasn't contributing to it or getting much out of it. Now I'm thinking about quitting my job because i'm wondering if I'm any good at that either. I'm also thinking about giving up trying not to be anxious because that doesn't seem to be working either. Maybe I just need to settle for something that I'm comfortable in and can do ok at and quit trying to improve these other skills because, frankly, it is exhausting and I'm exhausted.
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