Hey, remember those piano lessons you took when you were 6, then stopped after 3 years? Remember how passionate you were about it at that time, how much you wanted your fingers to dance across the keys just like the pianist you saw on stage? Or perhaps you were a swimmer, spending 4-5 hours every week in the pool. Over the years, the few hours were reduced to just 2 hours a week and eventually none at all. I’m sure this situation is relatable to many of you. We have all, at some point in our lives, quit doing what we have always been doing, breaking the regularity that had bound us down.
The sad truth is conventional wisdom has it that our greatest weakness lies in giving up, that we should never quit but instead persevere because of the benefits we will reap in the future. However, there are many reasons as to why one will give up a hobby, some of these reasons can disprove the claim that giving up is always negative.
One reason you picked up that hobby might be due to pressure from your parents or it may be due to impulse. Subsequently, you realised that it is not the thing for you, the initial excitement and passion cool off, the constant repetition has become a bore and you’re just continuing it for the sake of it. At this point, these signs should serve as warning for what is about to come. Perhaps it would be best to give it up and pursue something else you would be happier doing, an activity that you truly find delight in. In this case, quitting is a necessary first step to rebooting and redefining your goals and knowing what you want from life.
After years of learning and practice, you may feel that you have fulfilled yourself and no longer want to maintain the hobby. Perhaps you have achieved a diploma for piano, you can converse in Japanese, you you’ve received three stars in kayaking. Depending on the individual, we each have a different goal in mind, some may be more ambitious and others may be more realistic, either way, once we have reached a certain level, we will evaluate the option of further developing our skills. Of course, there is no harm in sharpening and refining our current skills if we are sure of our interests, however, there is also nothing wrong with remaining at the same level. Suppose all we wanted was to learn a basic skill, it is alright to stop and pick up another interest after reaching our goal. Who knows, you may go back to it a few years down the road, reviving the passion you once had.
The harsh reality is, our society stigmatizes people who give up. Quitting is seen as weak, as a lack of passion or as personal failure. In my opinion, cultivating the ability to quit frees us from the hopeless pursuit of the unattainable, and gives us the opportunity to commit to new, satisfying goals. No, I am not encouraging you to give up your current hobbies, but it is always good to stop and reflect on what we truly want, whether we see ourselves still enjoying the same activity ten, twenty years down the road. There should be zero shame in giving up a fight you can’t win or in dropping a goal that no longer applies to you. I truly hope that you will occasionally reevaluate what you’re doing, know why you do what you do and most importantly, follow your heart when deciding the next step.