The Art of Quitting : When Do You Finally Cut Your Losses?

by Martin

If you’re going to fail, you fail fast.

I apply this logic to every area of my life. From new freelancing ideas to even dating. If someone is not interested in you, then there’s nothing that you can do. If the date isn’t going well, then gracefully leave. If a movie sucks, walk out. If your freelancing idea sucks, find a new one! Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Don’t waste time.

But wait, isn’t quitting the worst atrocity that a human being can commit?

Not at all. We’ll cover that.

Here’s a quick story on knowing when to quit and bow out before you look like a fool…

I was on vacation recently. I love to get away from the Canadian winters and just enjoy the sun. There was a dude on the trip that I couldn’t believe. It was 4 in the morning and he was sitting with this lady awkwardly beside the buffet. She clearly had no interest in him. They stopped me for an awkward conversation as I was walking by. I didn’t want to be apart of this embarrassment. I told them that I had to go. They hung around each other being all weird all week. It was pretty funny actually.

The next day I asked the guy:

Why didn’t you just cut your losses? She clearly didn’t want to sleep with you or have anything to do with you.

Then I asked the girl the same question. She obviously didn’t want to be around this guy. Why bother sticking around?

I’ve actually found myself asking this question a lot recently and thinking about quitting.

Another friend asked me to check his ex-girlfriend’s Facebook for updates after she kicked him out of their place. If something isn’t working you need to move on. You moved out and were banned on Facebook for a reason.

I used to try to convince students to care about my personal finance site, Studenomics. That’s not how it works. Random students didn’t care. I wasn’t able to convince young people to care about their money.

What’s the deal with calling it quits?

Why do we not call it quits? TIME!

Time is the reason. We feel that because we’ve commited time to something that we should continue. This is the same logic that we use when we open up a bag of chips.

“Well the bag is already open. Might as well eat the whole damn thing.” — me

Money comes and goes. Time goes and never comes back. Yet, once we spend time on something, we become compelled to spend even more time on this thing.

What about Studenomics? Now I write amazing content and let ambitious young people come to me. My goal isn’t to convince you that you have a problem. I want those with a problem looking for solutions to find me and my solutions.

The final reason for not calling it quits is society/pride. Winners never quit and quitters never win, right? The quotes are endless. Society tells us not to quit and to keep on keeping on. While this is a great attitude to get through exams, it doesn’t help with making money as a freelancer.

When do you finally cut your losses as a freelancer?

This is easy and I’ll keep these brief.

When you can’t find a market.

Who will you offer your services to? If you can’t answer this then move on until you can. Trust me. Being everything to everyone doesn’t work.

When you’re making no money.

Money is good for keeping score of your freelancing services. When you can’t find any sources of income, your freelancing idea sucks. Move on!

When you have zero results.

Zero results after six months = time to move on. Don’t worry about tweaking or sulking. Just move on brothers and sisters.

When you hate the work.

Imagine if you went to a personal trainer that hated the gym or despised working out? You would bail right away! The same goes for your freelancing work. If you hate the work, then find something that you enjoy. I don’t want a miserable graphic designer that hates the world to design my next logo.

Those are the 4 key points that will identify when you show bow out as a freelancer and move on to the next idea. The great news is that ideas are always coming and going. So don’t stres if your current idea didn’t work out.

What have I quit?

I have quit many things in my life. When you say yes to one thing, you’re saying no to something else. There’s an opportunity cost in everything that we do.

Playing guitar. Was I even being realistic here?

Dancing. I have two left feet. My first long-term girlfriend made me sign up for lessons. My second girlfriend was the best dancer on this planet. I could NOT for the life of me pick up any moves. I’ve just given up. I now focus on my beer drinking when I go out. You want to challenge me? Loser has to cover the tab.

Random blog ideas. I always come up with random blog ideas. Not sure why, but I do. Recently I dropped like 5 domains because I didn’t have the time, energy or ambition to do anything with them. I quit so that I could focus more energy on this that.

Hint: I’m very passionate about freelancing!

How do you overcome the fear of failure/quitting?

I love to read a lot. You know, when I’m hungover or waiting for a girlfriend to get changed or when sitting on a long bus ride. I’ve read ton about quitting and failure. I’ve experienced both. I’ve watched others experience both.

How can you handle failure?

Not care? Move on? Laugh? Drink? Move on?

“We can cry about these failures, but that will lead us to hold back on the next idea. Or we can celebrate them, realizing that it’s proof that we’re being promiscuous in our shipping, putting the best work we can into the world, regardless of whether this particular idea actually works.” — Seth Godin

Can you prevent failure?

Yes. Be realistic with what you can do and are willing to do. I can work my ass off. I can hustle. I can’t do work that bores me. I can’t run a credit card balance transfer blog. So I won’t do this.

The key takeaway here is simple: don’t be afraid of quitting. You should always be striving to move on to bigger and better things.

“If you enter a niche because you’re following the dollars, you wont keep it up. It’s too much work, and you will get tired and frustrated and you will eventually fold.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

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