Quitters never prosper. Never give up. If at first, you don’t succeed, try, try again.
There are so many sayings with the same basic message: quitting is bad. This idea is instilled in kids, internalized by adults, and generally just considered common sense.
It’s also often wrong.
I once had a job that, in retrospect, I should have quit earlier. I stuck around two years longer than made sense, all because I thought giving up would be a personal failure on my part. That was wrong. When I finally left, I was happier, more productive, and better off.
I quit, and then I prospered.
Why did I keep doing a job that wasn’t working for so long—even when I had other options? Because of the prevailing cultural norm that quitting is bad. I felt like walking away would be a failure on my part, so I put off doing it.
This idea — that quitting is bad — deserves to be questioned.
The sunk cost fallacy is real
Let’s lower the stakes a little. My Zapier coworker Katie recently told me that she used to force herself to finish books she hated. That’s relatable. If you spent money on a book, then spent a bunch of time reading it, it feels like you
to finish it. Wouldn’t that time and money be wasted otherwise?
It sounds logical, but it isn’t. It’s an example of the sunk cost fallacy, a cognitive bias that causes us to commit to continuing to do something we’ve already invested in.
It’s easy to think that, by not finishing a book you started, you’re somehow losing all the time you put into the book so far. That’s not true: your time is already gone, regardless of how you spend it going forward. Finishing the book won’t retroactively justify the bad time you’ve had reading it so far — it just means you’ll have more of a bad time.
Ask yourself: is reading more of a book that you hate the best thing you could be spending your time on going forward? Because