Productivity and GTD

When to Quit a Project

AUTHOR: Francisco Sáez
“As long as I'm having fun, I'm not quitting.” ~ Sue Johanson
Quitting

Quitting a project is very frowned upon. Quitting, in general, is frowned upon — unless what you’re quitting is a bad habit, like alcohol, tobacco or drugs. Quitting is for cowards and losers. Quitting is failing. It is sin.

Does it sound familiar to you? I’m sure you listen and read continuously phrases such as “never give up”, “try again”, etc. I myself have recently talked on this blog about how important it is to persevere to be successful in any project.

We all wage a kind of moral battle to continue with the things we have started, and that’s perfect as long as what we have started still preserves the initial values and supposed benefits. However, there are times when continuing a project can be completely counterproductive, and abandoning it is, therefore, the most intelligent decision.

When does it happen?

  • When the reason why you started is not valid anymore. Ask yourself why you are doing it, why it is so important… and don’t feel bad if that reason doesn’t sound convincing anymore. Are you solving a real problem? Is it useful? Are you helping people? Does it help yourself? Does it provide any value?
  • When your priorities have changed. Your life is a constant process of change. Your thoughts, your ideas, your opinions, your dreams, your goals… everything changes. If your priorities have changed, persevering in a project that no longer contributes to your goals is simply a waste of time. What could you be doing if you didn’t have to do this?
  • When the long-term damages don’t compensate the short-term benefits. If you are working very hard on something you want, but that is affecting your person, your health, or your relationships with your family and friends, you have a conflict of areas of responsibility. You will need to reflect and evaluate what is most important. Will success in the project make up for losing your partner? Well, anything is possible, but think about it.
  • When there is no fun anymore. In every project there are ups and downs, there are things that you love to do and others you would rather not have to do. That is normal. However, if a project or activity has turned out to be just an obligation which drains you, you must consider leaving it. Whatever you do in this life, you should enjoy it at least a little bit.
  • When doing more things does not produce better results. There are projects and tasks in which, once you have reached a certain point, doing more doesn’t imply getting a better result, or at least, it is necessary to make a big effort to obtain a very small improvement. If so, it may be time to stop.
  • When the expected results no longer justify the cost. It is possible that the time or the money invested have exceeded what you had planned and that, even in the case of successful completion, the value obtained will never compensate for the effort.

It is not the same to give up things that matter than to give up things that no longer matter. The latter is even advisable, and should never be confused with failure.

4 comments

00d0a361be3efa69c937adcb1446d9cd
Commented over 2 years ago Günther

Very valuable for me, thank you Francisco!

I already brought this into FT as a reference for each of my weekly reviews - until it will have found its way into my "flesh and blood" ;-)

00d0a361be3efa69c937adcb1446d9cd Günther

Very valuable for me, thank you Francisco!

I already brought this into FT as a reference for each of my weekly reviews - until it will have found its way into my "flesh and blood" ;-)

Fcb879f1bc70aa0f661b842011f280fb
Commented over 2 years ago Francisco Sáez

Thanks Günther! That's a very good idea :)

Fcb879f1bc70aa0f661b842011f280fb Francisco Sáez

Thanks Günther! That's a very good idea :)

B106331265724a910e735e2ebf3895a3
Commented over 2 years ago Steve

Thanks, Francisco. Coincidentally, I just finished decluttering my project list before reading this. Had to get rid of some that were either no longer relevant or I couldn't find the motivation for anymore. Amazing how time can identify what's really important/unimportant!

B106331265724a910e735e2ebf3895a3 Steve

Thanks, Francisco. Coincidentally, I just finished decluttering my project list before reading this. Had to get rid of some that were either no longer relevant or I couldn't find the motivation for anymore. Amazing how time can identify what's really important/unimportant!

Fcb879f1bc70aa0f661b842011f280fb
Commented over 2 years ago Francisco Sáez

So true. Time always puts things in their place.

Thanks, Steve!

Fcb879f1bc70aa0f661b842011f280fb Francisco Sáez

So true. Time always puts things in their place.

Thanks, Steve!

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