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Quitting: harder than it looks.

The option of quitting has long been undervalued and underused. Many of quitting's detractors insist on the moral superiority of "sticking it out," whereas natural quitters fear expending the energy it takes to quit. Between the two camps, actual quitting falls through the cracks.

Lazy but lapsed quitters should not confuse their indolence with their desire to quit. In fact, laziness is contrary to quitting because it precludes the activity of quitting. Laziness can occur only before and after quitting, not during it; quitting is an essentially active, not idle, pursuit.

First, the quitter thinks about quitting. This stage includes contemplating unhappiness, frustration, and shame, and dwelling on discomforts, injustices, and boredom. It can satisfy the quitter for months or even years. Next, the quitter fantasizes about methods of quitting. This is often the most creative part of the process, and many quitters draw it out, letting the imaginative quality that is inherent in many quitters come to the fore. Finally, the quitter quits.

Like all activities, quitting is tiring. Although some quitters, upon quitting, feel exhilarated, many quitters experience exhaustion that can spill into aimlessness. The following are suggestions for combatting post-quitting lassitude:

* Tell everyone you know that you have quit. Because of the stigma attached to quitting, many quitters deny themselves the pride and gratification of quitting. Tell someone who you know will disapprove, and go into detail. Tell someone who you know will approve and let him or her congratulate you. If your friends already know you quit, tell them again. Send reminders, call to discuss the circumstances of your quitting, invite people to your house and dwell on whatever you quit.

* Think about quitting something else. This will remind you of how motivating the process is. Don't worry about the end result or the actual act of quitting. Think about quitting something you like and have no intention of quitting: if you're madly in love, think about leaving; if you live in a great house, think about moving; if you're reading a good book, think about putting it down.

* Encourage someone else to quit. Try to witness his or her quitting. Even vicarious quitting is better than no quitting at all.

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Title Annotation:reprinted from Quitter Quarterly; humor
Publication:Harper's Magazine
Date:Jun 1, 1994
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