Sometimes Quitting is Okay

Closing out 2013 was a chaotic time in my working life. The project I moved from Seattle to Silicon Valley to be part of was on the verge of getting acquired. The deal wasn’t finalized and it was unclear how long it would take. We still had work to be done, but a great many things were in limbo as we waited to see what our fate would be. It was this uncertainty at work that helped shape the goals I set for personal accomplishment going into January 2014.

In a video at the beginning of 2014, I laid out my three primary goals. My plan was to run 1000 miles in 2014, write and publish a book, and publish a new video each day.

I ended the year with 1001.7 miles, enough pages to fill three books, and 159 videos in my daily video quest. While that reads like I only completed one of three goals, I’m happy with the amount of writing I did despite not publishing a book. I intentionally stopped doing the videos because the goal no longer made sense.

Understanding Why You Set Your Goals

Part of the reason I set a goal of a new daily video was to make sure I had a tangible deadline to meet each day. The uncertainty at work made it likely that there would be many days where work would feel chaotic. Having a daily output I had control over created some order in that chaos.

By the beginning of June, we were several months into the post-sale transition at work. There was something of a weekly rhythm again with enough deliverables that it felt less chaotic.
My biggest reason for making a daily video was fading away.

The video project also stopped being fun. It felt like a chore to try and come up with a video topic each day. Every project or goal faces challenges at some point, but when I looked at the big picture outcome compared against how I felt about the daily output, I didn’t see any reason to keep making videos for the sake of having a total of 365 at the end of the year. So I quit making daily videos.

When Life Changes, Change Your Goals

It’s okay to modify or quit your goals when they no longer fit the reason you set them.
I accomplished what I needed to with making the videos. I had a daily deliverable when I needed it. I learned some valuable lessons about recording, editing, and posting videos from an iPhone every day. But I didn’t feel like I needed to continue to make videos daily. So I stopped.
Consciously stopping work toward a goal is just as important as being conscious of the reasons you started in the first place. When the reasons for starting no longer align with where you want be, it’s okay to abandon the project and refocus on other things that hold greater importance.

As we enter the time of year when most of make resolutions, set goals, or develop intentions for the year ahead, I encourage you to think about why you are choosing the goals you set for yourself and allow yourself the permission to abandon any goals that might not align with the direction you are currently heading.

The feeling of letting go can feel just as joyous as the satisfaction of completion.