Search the site

Growing Leaders Blog

on Leading the Next Generation


The Value and Cost of Quitting

QuittingIt is cliché to say it—but we live in a day where quitting is commonplace. We find it easier to walk away from commitments rather than stick with one that no longer seems relevant. In response, we choose to…

  • Leave our spouses.
  • Quit the baseball team.
  • Walk away from contracts.
  • Drop our New Year’s resolutions.

And why not? In our day, quitting is just…easier. We’ve begun to create a society where much of the time, there are no long-term penalties. Divorce is not longer shunned. Quitting the sports team is totally acceptable if the kid is bored. Even prison sentences are shortened. I know a man who committed murder and was out of prison in two years. In fact, at first glance:

  • Quitting is easier.
  • Quitting is faster.
  • Quitting is less boring.

Stop and think, however, of the long-term history we create when quitting is acceptable. Eventually, people won’t believe or trust a person’s word when they promise to do something. Contracts are virtually useless. Wedding vows will mean almost nothing. In my book, Generation iY—Our Last Chance to Save Their Future, I predicted that by the year 2030, we would begin seeing five-year marriage contracts. I could see it coming. Problem is—I didn’t see it clearly enough. Last year, three countries (including Mexico just south of the U.S.) considered legislature that would allow for two-year marriage contracts. We don’t want life to be hard or to box us in. We want options. Do we see, however, what results from this lifestyle?

Here’s a little lesson I learned as an adult.

When I make a decision that provides me with short-term benefits, I almost always experience long-term consequences. In other words, if I play now, I pay later. On the other hand, if I make a decision that has short-term consequences, I almost always enjoy long-term benefits.  Pay now, play later.

The further out I can see into the future, the better the decision I make today. 

Over the next few days, I plan to blog about students and how we’ve conditioned them to quit. Quit the team. Quit piano. Quit relationships. Quit school.

Stay with me and please weigh in on the conversation.

Where do you see quitting most often?

Interested in finding solutions to the quitting trend? On June 28-29, 2012, Growing Leaders is hosting the National Leadership Forum in Atlanta, GA. Our theme this year is “Growing Leaders, Not Just Graduates.” During these two days, administrators, teachers, coaches, youth workers and non-profit leaders come together to address this problem and leave with practical solutions tailored to their unique settings. For more information, visit the website. Register by today to save $50. I’d love for you to join us this June!


  1. Patrick McHugh on March 5, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Well said Tim. Look forward to your follow-ups. 

    • Moakster on March 5, 2012 at 4:33 pm

      Tim, I’m definitely looking forward to the upcoming posts!!

      • Tim Elmore on March 7, 2012 at 12:40 pm

        Thanks, guys! Hope you enjoy the rest of the posts!

  2. Diana Dahlem on March 10, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    Guilty!  Especially when it comes to the New Year’s Resolutions.  I see it in your average, everyday broken promises.  I can’t help but think those lead to the more serious lapses in contracts and commitments.  It goes along with the “if it makes you happy” mentality. 
    PS…miss hearing you at North Ridge.

    • Tim Elmore on March 12, 2012 at 8:13 am

      So true. Looking forward to being back at North Ridge soon!

  3. Robert A. Sloan on March 13, 2012 at 3:06 am

    There’s a balance between not quitting or quitting while you’re ahead. If it’s a bad job that’s wasting your life and ripping you off, leaving and going for something better is worth the trouble. If it’s an abusive marriage, staying is only going to make it worse. 

    Sometimes quitting is the right thing to do. Sometimes it’s not. If you care about piano, hang on even when it’s hard. If you took it because you got pushed into it and discover you have no real desire for the goal, then switch to guitar or something that you’re passionate about. I’d have to say don’t quit on yourself, don’t give up your dreams, don’t settle for second best or someone else’s choices for you because they do not and cannot know where your greatest talents and passions lie unless you stand up for them.

    As for quitting school, any bright kid who’s thinking of it ought to look into early entrance college programs – they are a lot more challenging and a lot less makework. There are schools and schools.

    • Robert A. Sloan on March 13, 2012 at 3:09 am

      I don’t bother making New Years Resolutions. The annual make-and-break them custom is just demoralizing. Setting monthly goals and not putting a date on my long term goals, reaching them by achieving the smaller ones works a lot better than some drunken declaration to lose weight or make more money or otherwise change habits that you have reason for – until you know why you’re doing things the way you do them and solve the situation, that kind of flat goal doesn’t work. 

      Looser goals like “eat healthier” may well result in losing weight. Or they’ll result in your weight staying the same but more of it is muscle and you have more energy. Making more money takes a combination of external luck in what opportunities are open and internal decisions on what you’re willing to do to get it. 

      • Tim Elmore on March 19, 2012 at 9:58 am

        General goals are usually little more than wishes. Getting specific and setting measurable goals with deadlines are much more likely to make a difference!

    • Tim Elmore on March 19, 2012 at 9:56 am

      Great points! Thanks for sharing! There are times where quitting is necessary and beneficial. The early entrance option is often overlooked but could be a great alternative for students.

Leave a Comment

The Value and Cost of Quitting