Giving up feels great!

Some of the happiest times of my life were when I gave up: dropping out of school, quitting a job, ending a dysfunctional relationship, shaving my head rather than fighting my receding hairline. Usually the exact moment was scary (how will I pay rent?), awkward (disappointing my advisor/boss/girlfriend), or depressing (admitting failure). But soon afterward I felt free as a bird and that feeling stayed with me for a long time. In fact, I’m feeling cheerful right now just thinking about not being in those unpleasant situations.

The traditional view is that lazy people give up too soon. Sure, but if you are a responsible, hard-working person then you probably give up too late. If you have repeatedly done your best but a situation is making you miserable then get the hell out. Don’t agonize over sunk costs. That time and money are gone and more suffering won’t bring them back. Don’t worry about looking like a failure. Worrying about what other people think makes you their servant.

I apply this to business all the time, especially in the last five years. I canceled lots of distracting marketing projects and relationships with high maintenance resellers. It was not fun dealing with the disappointed business people, but it was worth it. That freed up time for important activities, like releasing two or three products per year (we used to do only one).

Pare your life down to just the few things you do well and you will find happiness. You will probably be successful too, but I care much more about the happiness.

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About the Author:

Jeff Butterworth is the founder of Alien Skin Software. He used to create the products, but now he does marketing and gets coffee for the programmers.


  1. Weston Aiken March 16, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    Really great post Jeff!

  2. Joy March 17, 2012 at 10:01 am

    Jeff, you say: “That freed up time for important activities. . .” ~and at age 70 I fully corroborate your own experience from my years of ‘releasing what no longer serves.’

    With limited energy, one can see what calls one most strongly and focus there with alacrity ~ the truly important things stand out, and the rest is just there for someone else to deal with, rapidly receding over the horizon of ones own life.

    What a delight to play with my favorite toys, without distraction!

    And I must say, my favorites are my digital camera, Photoshop and my various plug-ins, among which is Snap Art 3 ~ lots of fun. Snap Art 3 is a huge improvement over the previous version, and a delight to play with.

    Speaking about hair ~ your shaving your head to avoid dealing with bad/sad hair times ~ I get a short buzz cut every couple of months. And I’m a 70 year old woman, not the usual female hair choice!

    I love the streamlining of my life!

    And how fortunate you are to grok that at a much younger age! Kudos to you, dude! I appreciate your point of view. And thank you for sharing it with a group of folks who can ‘get it’ ~ may your UFO fly swiftly and smoothly bringing more fun to us all! šŸ˜‰

  3. Angela Knight March 20, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    I know what you mean. I spent five years living in terror, fighting to keep a job I loved when my editors put the a$$ in…well, you know. Finally I realized I could either keep the job and end up in the psyche ward, or quit. So I quit, and was MUCH better off. On the other hand, I spent 20 years trying to become a published novelist, something I’d wanted to be since the age of 9. That I refused to give up on. Now I’m a New York Times bestselling novelist, and if I’d given up, I wouldn’t be. The question is, is whatever you’re trying to do driving you insane? If it’s hurting you, stop. IMHO.

  4. Zaini Akhmad March 27, 2012 at 1:32 am

    Great Post! I had the same experience.

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