Synopsis & Links
Quitting is morally neutral, so perseverance won’t make you a better person, but learning when and how to quit on purpose, and when to persevere could definitely make you a happier person.
If you want to know more about keeping a planner, as someone with executive dysfunction, check out my ultimate guide to time management! In the Tools section I go over how to use Bullet Journaling – which was actually created by someone with ADHD!
Read BEYOND THE HEADLINE
HuffPo Quit. Go ahead. It’s okay.
NYT Sometimes You Have to Quit to Get Ahead
Forbes When It’s Okay to Quit (psst Forbes, it’s always okay, even when it’s done for the ““wrong”” reasons)
Perseverance is morally neutral
BUT - some things are worth the effort
Gifted kids often end up on one extreme - quitting everything or being terrified to quit anything.
And ridiculously high expectations don’t help, they just add to the stress.
What we can do about it:
- The trick is to quit the things that are just taking up your time without adding to your life in a way that’s meaningful to you, while committing to the things that really matter to you, even when they’re hard.
- We don’t need to become better versions of ourselves, and perseverance won’t do that anyway because it’s morally neutral.
- We just need to become versions of ourselves who spend time and effort on the things that matter to us while maintaining the mental space to enjoy those things.
How to quit
1. Make a list of the things you are going to absolutely commit to doing, starting (or continuing) right now
2. Review the list regularly and recommit to every item on it.
3. If there is an item you don’t want to recommit to, answer the question “What changed?” in detail. Make sure your brain isn’t trying to talk you out of something you still care about.
4. If you want to put off something on the list, stand up, go to the mirror, and as yourself why. Once you stand up it’s usually easier to just do the thing anyway!
- Don’t even worry about “quitting” things that aren’t on the list because you never even committed to them. Not everything is do-or-do-not level of importance.
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Kawai Kitsune by Kevin MacLeod
About the Ex-Gifted Podcast:
If you are a former gifted kid who grew up to struggle with basic adulting, then you need the Ex-Gifted podcast.
Host Ren Eliza talks about gifted kid burnout, and the damage that lasts long into adulthood. Damage like battered self esteem, decimated internal motivation, and a continued failure to live up to expectations even while we were placed on pedestals and alienated from our peers.
Ex-Gifted will cover failure, procrastination, imposter syndrome, and chronic anxiety and depression, and a whole lot more.
Each episode also offers suggestions to deal with your executive dysfunction in adulthood so you can rebuild the systems that allowed you to shine so brightly in childhood.
We’re making exceptional children into functional adults.
Hello there. If you never follow through on anything until completion, then this is the show for you. Don’t touch that stop button until you reach the very end!
This is Ex-Gifted.
Hi Friends, I’m Ren Eliza and you’re listening to Ex-Gifted. This week I’ve got a special one for all you quitters out there. Or, more correctly I should say all of US quitters.
So we live in a society that strongly prioritizes perseverance, no matter the circumstances. If you sign up for basketball, you’re gonna stick with it. If you start cello lessons, you’re learning to play the cello. If you get married, you have to stick it out. No excuses. You got a degree in neuroengineering? Well then you’re a neuroengineer. No you can’t drop out of grad school. You committed. Of course we can quit any of these things, at least as adults in most of the world. But have you ever seen the face someone gives you when you say you’re a divorced PhD drop out? I sure have…
And those of us who were gifted kids get it double because expectations are SO HIGH for us. Raise your hand if you were voted most likely to succeed and it makes you cringe every time you pull out the yearbook. We’re supposed to be today’s leaders. We’re supposed to persevere. We were supposed to SUCCEED.
Before we go any further, let’s get this out of the way. Perseverance is not a moral matter. It’s just not. Following through on things does not make you a better or superior person in any way whatsoever. I mean, think about it, what would that even mean?
Feel free to send me angry comments on instagram if you disagree.
In my experience, gifted kids usually end up one extreme or the other when it comes to quitting. There are those who never quit, and overcommit themselves and never say no. These are the people who need to hear that it’s okay to quit things, sometimes. And there’s the folks who are RUNNERS, except not literally because any time we go out for a jog as soon as our heart starts pounding we think “wait that’s not normal for it to be that uncomfortable, right?” and turn around and go home to nap instead. Or is that just me? We quit every single thing that we start, leaving projects, hobbies, and goals in various states of completion scattered across our lives and also our homes. We’re the folks that need to hear that it’s also okay NOT to quit.
Now, that sounds goofy because I already acknowledged that our culture is all about encouraging us to stick with something til death do us part no matter what. Two problems there.
First off, that’s obviously not enough, or else we wouldn’t be quitting in the first place. Turns out shame is a shitty motivator. Did I say that already?
Secondly, as toxic positivity has gained traction in recent years, so has the backlash against it. And unfortunately, that backlash is spread in the same fashion as its fake-it-til-you-make-it counterpart: through one-liners and memes that don’t portray the whole story.
What this means is that there’s an influential counterculture out there that a whole hell of a lot of us subscribe to which is saying “Normalize quitting” and “It’s okay to quit” without giving much if any actual guidance or support.
Of course it’s okay. Perseverance is morally neutral. Those over-committers need to hear that again. And the rest of us who already quit a dozen things before lunch need the reminder to be gentle with ourselves instead of shaming and blaming.
But we need more than just that one-liner. Because learning how to follow through on the RIGHT things may not make you a better person, but it might make you a HAPPIER person. Naturally there’s no way to reach your goals without properly applied perseverance.
And this isn’t just for us runners, but the over-committers too! Because running yourself ragged doing too many things that don’t even fulfill you leaves you drained and gets in the way of being present and actually enjoying your life.
To be clear, we’re not trying to become better versions of ourselves because perseverance is morally neutral. Besides, we’re already great (cough subscribe to Ex-Gifted to check out the upcoming episode on the duality of superiority and inferiority we often experience). Anyway, we’re not trying to become BETTER versions of ourselves, we’re just trying to become the versions of ourselves who can actually do the things we want to do AND have the energy and mental space to enjoy them! So let’s follow that thread to see how we might do that.
We have to find balance. We have to determine the things we commit to, and the things that can be done away with. To do this, we have to quit intentionally.
Now, I love lists, so I’d suggest that as part of this you make a list of your commitments. This doesn’t mean things you promised other people. It means goals or actions that you’re committing to acting on right now. These are only things that are very important to you.
My list is in my planner, but some sticky notes on the fridge works great too. And you don’t have to put it on paper if you’re not an analog kid. You can make put it in a note on your phone or a to-do app, or you could write an email to yourself then snooze it for a month that might be cool. Of course, you don’t have to make a list at all I’m not your boss, but it’s a lot harder to keep things intentional when you keep it all in your mind with no record. If you’re an Ex-Gifted kid with executive dysfunction, write that shit down, or record it however works for you. And go over it regularly.
When you go over it, that’s your chance to recommit. Or not. But before you decide to take something off of the list, you have to answer the question: “What changed?” Because if you’re used to quitting as soon as something is inconvenient, your brain will fucking lie to you and say “yeah let’s give up!” even on things that are important to you. Make it get specific. What’s different? What’s more important now?
Maybe there’s a project coming up at work that’s going to take up too much of your time. Maybe you have a new baby on the way and need to reprioritize everything. Maybe you just got yourself in way over your head and honestly didn’t appreciate the time commitment it would take.
As an example, last year I was learning Japanese on Duolingo. I was doing pretty well, and had a long streak built up. I was putting at least 30 minutes in most days. But around new year, I re-evaluated, and realized I wanted to commit that time to my business, including starting this podcast. I
I also mentioned before that I quit a lot of things almost accidentally. When the time comes, I say “not today” or “I’ll do it later” and then I forget about it altogether. And the solution to this is simple – though not easy. When you catch yourself trying to postpone something you committed to doing, ask yourself why. And then answer it. Bonus if you stand up and walk to the mirror to make up excuses to your face. This isn’t going to force you to do something you truly don’t want or don’t care about anymore, but it will allow you a chance to be honest with yourself and most likely you’ll be able to tell if you actually need the break or your asshole brain is just lying again. And for most things on my list, once I’ve stood up it’s easier for me to just do the thing instead of talk to myself in the mirror anyway.
Now, let me be fair and acknowledge that there are a bunch of great articles out there about quitting – as long as you read past the headlines. Check them out in the show notes.
Now go out there and quit something, if you need to, or if you’re like me, go fucking commit to something and stop giving up just before it gets good!
But whatever you do, don’t quit Ex-Gifted because in two weeks I’m going to talk about that inferiority complex you have. Or superiority. Or most likely, both.
Check me out on the web at exgifted.com or instagram @exgiftedcast. Talk to you soon! Byeeee.