Most of us grew up hearing the mantra "Don't be a quitter," and we've internalized it to the point where we feel guilty even if we don't finish a book that's boring us to death. Our parents weren't entirely wrong in saying that persistence is necessary for success, but sometimes quitting is the most effective course of action. Whether it's a failed project, a thankless job, or a doomed relationship, quitting can be a virtue.
As it turns out, some of us are really good at knowing when to quit, while others have a hard time getting "unstuck." Research from the University of Rochester found that people are motivated by either "approach goals" or "avoidance goals."
Those who fall into the approach camp are motivated by challenges and don't waste time trying to solve problems that simply don't have a feasible solution. In other words, they know when to quit.
People motivated by avoidance goals, however, worry a lot more about failing. They want to avoid failure at all costs, so they keep plugging away at things, long after logic suggests it's time to move on. This is typically a much less productive way to work.
Knowing when to quit is a skill that can be learned. If you tend to get stuck on things long after it's obvious that what you're doing isn't working, you can train yourself to do better. You just need to practice quitting. Thankfully, life provides plenty of opportunities to do this. Here are some things we should all quit doing.