Here’s why quitting or giving-up on your career isn’t always a bad decision to opt to.

They say the harder you work for something, the more you’ll end up cherishing it — that makes it worth it all. That’s the ultimate reason why people give in their all to accomplish their goals. Society gratifies perseverance — “don’t be a quitter” is the slogan of today’s youth. Never give up, right? Obviously, hard work is the key to success — but, sometimes, strategically giving up might be the only option to leap forward to success.


Related media: Why GM Closed The Factories? Sunk Costs


Opportunity Cost Vs. Sunk Cost

Most perseverant people, the go-getters, people with grits, often look to their lives in terms of what economists term as sunk costs. This refers to the expense that can’t be recovered. Minor baseball league players are a great case study for this discussion. Most of these youngsters have been drafted by major teams, but there’s a roughly 11 percent probability that they’ll ever make it into the big leagues. Yet still, how can they give up? After all that time and energy they’ve invested into their dreams! Would they want to quit?

Steven J. Dubner, an economist, recounted on his Freakonomics podcast, thinking in such a way seems like always looking into your past. The big deal is to focus on what you’ve already achieved which cannot be altered for the other. This leads to what economists term as the sunk-cost fallacy — continuing doing something because of the time you’ve invested into it, it would feel wasted if you do otherwise. And justifying all the resources you’ve already invested, “sunk,” often leads you to ignore the opportunity cost of your motives.

Here’s the catch: whenever you pursue a course or career, there’s an opportunity cost — all the possible options you could have done instead, with that same time and effort. In such terms, economists suggests that it isn’t asking the central question of “What have I done so far?” — you’re to ask “What’s my most compelling option right now?”



Do You Really Need To Quit?

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For minor league players, the answer stems from a financial perspective, and its a lot than just playing a sport. Sudhir Venkatesh, a sociologist who once studied minor league players, was interview by Dubner. In his study, Venkatesh found that most players after 10 years in the minor league, usually make about 40 percent less than their peers from similar backgrounds. He also found that quitting is so difficult for these players to even think of, and had even made up a fancy term for it: “shutting it down.” Obviously, you can reboot a computer you shut down!

But here’s the thing: Quitting can sometimes, not always, sometimes be the good thing to do. This isn’t all an economists’ perception; the Harvard Business Review even thinks so. For instance, perseverant people tend to work so hard regardless of the worth they’re investing, but quitting could prevent you from the mundane work that ends up worthless.

Furthermore, if you quit, it opens possible opportunities that best suits your potential. Indeed, failing isn’t a good thing, but acknowledging failures as “failures” earlier is what economist Steven Levitt encourages his students to do. This allows you to try more stuff, and eventually find what you’re really good at doing and who you really are. This also helps you avoid wasting tons of resources into something that’s not worth it — like that relationship that’s a one-sided affair. You get it!



Quitters Aren’t Losers

Last but not least, quitting also has some health benefits, as well. Research says, if you’re able to let go of your impossible dreams that’s eating you up, you’re less stressed and you’re less likely to experience certain related health issues, be it physical, emotional or mental. A 2007 study found that participants who gave up on their unrealistic goals were less likely to experience headaches, constipation, eczema, and even depression. This also improved their sleep because cortisol levels — the infamous stress hormone — in their bodies had significantly dropped.

Obviously, quitting isn’t a solution to your problem. But never giving yourself the opportunity to try new things keeps you in the box. Success isn’t that far off than you think, you just have to know when to give up and when to keep going.


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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Wed, May 22, 2019.

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