How To Get Over The Fear Of Quitting (And Move On)

Stop whatever you’re doing!

Keep on reading of course, but stop doing the things that you know deep down you should’ve given up a long time ago.

Maybe it’s that 9 to 5 job that you absolutely hate! Or maybe it’s that relationship that keeps putting you down. Or you need to quit smoking. Or quit whining… quit whatever you need to quit!

There’s at least one thing in your life right now, that you need to give up and you know you should’ve done so a long time ago, but something kept preventing you from saying “no more”.

That “thing” that held you back is the fear of quitting.  That little voice in the back of your head that kept telling you “quitters never win and winners never quit”.

Don’t listen to that voice. Don’t give into the stigma that “quitting is bad” and that you should always finish what you started. Acknowledge the fear, make piece with it, overcome it.

Let’s overcome the fear of quitting once and for all:

1. The Sunk Cost Fallacy

The term “sunk cost” comes from economics. In it’s most basic form it means that you have invested so much effort, time, energy, love, money and other resources into a project that you are afraid to give it all up and lose the momentum. That fear of wasting those resources is what keeps you at bay, parallelized at the idea of quitting.

The problem is that the more you continue with the current project, the more resources you put in, the higher the sunk cost becomes and the harder it is it give it up. So you keep marching forward. But things are not going to change, it’s only going to get harder to quit.

When you peel all the layers of your fear of quitting, all you are left with is the that sunk cost, the fear of wasting all those valuable resources you have invested up to this point.

But just because you now have a better understanding of your fear, that does not really help you overcome it. This is where another powerful concept from economics comes to the rescue.

2. The Power Of Opportunity Cost

If you invest a dollar in project X, you are giving up the opportunity to invest that dollar in project Y. This is called opportunity cost.

You encounter this every day with your time. When you invest 10 minutes in mindless Facebook scrolling, you are giving up the opportunity to spend those 10 minutes in a more productive, or at least more fun, activity.

That is nice and all, but how does it help you overcome the fear of quitting?

I am glad you asked.

Here’s how: think of one thing that you know you need to quit, but you are afraid to do so. Let’s say it’s a dead-end 9 to 5 job that you dislike to a great extent. What prevents you from quitting are all those years you have invested in climbing the corporate ladder, all those long hours, the fake laughs of your manager’s jokes, the boring meetings, the fights with the HR lady, etc. You suffered all of that, so quitting is not an option or all of that effort goes to waste.

Now, think of the opportunity cost if you choose to keep on grinding at this job vs starting your own business instead, for example.

Think of what you are potentially giving up – spending more time with your family, finally being your own boss, the freedom of being able to work from any place in the world, the potential to write your own checks, etc.

Do you feel less afraid to walk in to your manager’s office and give in your resignation?

You betcha!

Sunk cost relates to the past, while opportunity cost is all about the future. The fear of missing out on a greater opportunity in the future tends to overpower the fear of wasting resources that you have already invested in the past.

All you need to overcome your fear of quitting is to make sure that your opportunity costs > the sunk cost.

What Do You Need To Quit

Take 5 – 10 minutes and think of your life, your career and your relationships. Examine each aspect and see if there is something that you need to quit, but you have been afraid to do so in the past.

What has been on your mind? What/who has been bringing your mood, or energy down on a consistent basis? What is that thing that you know deep down that it is not right for you, that you need to give up and move on, but you haven’t taken any action toward eliminating?

Once you find it, think of the opportunity cost.

What are you giving up by sticking with it? Happiness? Financial freedom? Time with your friends and family? Health?

It is tough to dig so deep sometimes and face your own fears. It is tough to realize what you have been giving up all this time. Don’t let this hold you back.

True success lies in brutal honesty, not in blissful ignorance.

Don’t fall pray of the “quitters never win and winners never quit” mentality. Not all opportunities and activities are created equal. Some will get you closer to your goals while others make you stray from the success path. Give up all those that don’t help you, or don’t make you happier. Scratch the sunk cost and think of the opportunity cost.


Your Turn Now

Now you know how to overcome the paralyzing fear of quitting – make sure your opportunity cost is always bigger than the sunk cost. When that becomes true, or at least you believe it is, quitting all those things that are putting you down becomes much easier.

Don’t be afraid to quit. Quitting the things that bring no value to your life is good, it’s productive, it’s healthy and will make you a better person.

Now go quit something and experience that liberating feeling!

Question: what is an example of something that you know you have to give up, but were held back by fear of quitting? Share in the comment section below: