Why giving up can be a good thing

I’ve been accused in the past of being flighty or fickle, of giving up on things. 

My first reaction has often been a defensive one, partly because the people who’ve said these things in the past have often said them meaning them to be hurtful, and when you know something is meant as a criticism, it’s hard to take it otherwise. Also though, there is a part of me that wonders if they might be right, and if that makes me a bad person.

Because the truth is that I do give things up quite often. I went along to a local drama group for a few months and then changed my mind, I’ve tried body pump and hated every minute, I’ve started jobs and left them, I’ve moved house a lot, I’ve started classes and stopped again, and I even have about 15,000 words of a murder mystery novel written somewhere. I do give up on things.

But I also try a lot of things.

I could easily have not given up any of those things, by simply not trying them in the first place, but where would be the fun in that? How are you meant to know if you are going to enjoy something unless you give it a go? And just because something is fun at a certain point in your life, does that mean you’re stuck with it forever? 

There is also a lot to be said for having a level of awareness that enables you to recognise when a task is fruitless, a job unsuitable, and let it go. Sure, sometimes you do just have to get on with things – you can’t leave the washing up indefinitely – but there is evidence that relentless determination, the sort that ex-boyfriends would have liked to have seen more evidence of in me, is actually overrated. 

Oliver Burkeman, writing in his regular spot in The Guardian recently, talked about new research that showed that this sort of ‘grit’ isn’t always a good thing. Apparently, the research showed that ‘grittier people were likelier to keep grappling with hard, or even unsolvable puzzles, even when it led to lower overall scores and chances of cash rewards.’

That doesn’t sound cool does it? Ambition and determination are one thing, but it’s important to remember that pushing yourself on and on regardless isn’t always going to lead to success. Sometimes you just have to stop, and accept that something isn’t working out for you. There’s a big difference between simply giving up and recognising when it’s time to move on.

I don’t think there is any shame in giving up on something, as long as you’re prepared to give it a go in the first place and you learn a little bit about yourself along the way, even if it’s just that you don’t like body pump.

How do you feel about giving things up? Does it make you feel guilty or are you comfortable with your choices?

giving up




  1. 6 November, 2015 / 2:41 pm

    I find I give up on some things fairly often and it used to be something I was down on myself about. But then I recently came across the term Multipotentialite – a person who has many different interests and creative pursuits in life.

    “Multipotentialites have no “one true calling” the way specialists do. Being a multipotentialite is our destiny. We have many paths and we pursue all of them, either sequentially or simultaneously (or both).

    Multipotentialites thrive on learning, exploring, and mastering new skills. We are excellent at bringing disparate ideas together in creative ways. This makes us incredible innovators and problem solvers.”


    So there you go – rather than being people who give up easily, we are actually intellectually gifted ;) x

    • Jo Middleton
      10 November, 2015 / 12:05 pm

      No way! That’s me then, I’m a multipotentialite! Ace. Now I don’t need to worry at all :-)

  2. 6 November, 2015 / 9:24 pm

    I think the important thing to remember is that we never fail, only learn. Life is a journey and sometime difficult decisions have to be made in order for us to make the most of it. I must admit that I am SO guilty of chopping and changing, as though I can’t stay focused on one thing for long enough, I guess I am just learning about who I am and what I like.

    Great post, It’s always nice to be reminded that the joy is in knowing that we tried something new, regardless of how it turns out :)

    • Jo Middleton
      15 November, 2015 / 7:34 pm

      Absolutely Issy, and if you learn something from trying something, that has to be a good thing doesn’t it? I’ve learnt all sorts – like I cannot ski to save my life, that I’m not a great Italian speaker… the list is endless…

  3. 8 November, 2015 / 10:56 pm

    I think sometimes I’m guilty of being too stubborn & continuing with something when I should’ve just given up & moved on

    • Jo Middleton
      10 November, 2015 / 12:04 pm

      There’s a pressure though I think – we feel bad about it – don’t be too hard on yourself.

  4. Becky
    9 November, 2015 / 12:53 pm

    I am rubbish at giving things up like overeatting and toxic friendships ….always have been, need to take a lesson here

    • Jo Middleton
      10 November, 2015 / 12:03 pm

      The friendships one is tough though, because inside you’re thinking ‘but they’re my friends!’ and you forget that friends don’t have to ALWAYS be your friends, especially if they bring you down.

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