I want to quit. Right now.
I want to quit, because I’m tired. My head is fogged up, and my coffee — as good as it is — hasn’t cleared it. I want to quit because I woke up this morning before dawn and my limbs ached.
I want to quit because I can remember what it feels like to have more money than I needed, and to lose it, and to remember it like a kick in the gut today. I want to quit because the way back in is long, hard and unforgiving.
I want to quit because business is tough, it’s always tough. I’m staring into a mirror 12 hours a day and daring the reflection to make one wrong move, to make one wrong call, knowing that what I do fails or flies on me.
I want to quit because I want to sit in my lounge room, playing Doom and eating, listening to Marvin Gaye, doing whatever I can, anything I can to distract myself from the ticking clock and the pressure I’ve always felt to do more, work more, try harder.
I want to quit because I grew up poor, and I’m terrified that if I risk everything, I’ll die poor too.
I want to quit because I stand a good chance of failing, every time I take on a client, every time I build a product or start a business or crack open a new dream, and I’ve failed enough times that I don’t want to feel the ground drop out from under me again.
I want to quit because startups are hard, they’re unforgiving in their statistical chances of disaster, and I know deep down that I’m not a visionary leader or a tech genius, just a guy with big ideas and a decent serving of guts. And I’m not sure that’s enough.
I want to quit because I got an email from a reader calling me a self centered asshole because I wouldn’t help him build a company for free, and I got a DM from another one who thinks I’m a “vapid waste of space” — even though they don’t know me and my life.
I want to quit because I’d rather drink at 10 AM and smoke a pack of cigarettes a day — that’s my self destructive streak coming out.
I want to quit because making it seems harder than just settling into being average and not trying. If I didn’t try, I could switch off that part of my brain that wants to, and find a comfortable job and get tired and get done.
I want to quit because writing means baring a piece of my soul every day, and holding it out to the world and saying hey, what do you think of this? …and sometimes, asking whether it’s been worth it, trying to open myself to it, and feeling vulnerable.
I want to quit because I hate putting in effort, and I want to be lazy, and I don’t want to be productive, and I don’t want to get fit, and I don’t want to stay up late trying to push my dreams over the line.
I want to quit because I’d love to re-watch every season of Buffy, and that seems a lot better than blogging and designing and drawing up contracts.
I want to quit because a deal I’ve been working on for months just fell through and now I have to close that gap in projected revenue in some other way.
I want to quit because JK Rowling is a better writer than me, with more credibility and authenticity and characters that people love and a series of books that shaped the childhood of millions. I want to quit because Gary Vaynerchuk is a better writer than me, with inspirational ideas, messages and game changing concepts that have built thousands of entrepreneurs.
I want to quit because I’m not either of them, and I’m not Elon Musk, or Paul McCartney, or Ian McKaye, or Henry Rollins, or Douglas Coupland, or Richard Branson.
And no matter how much I read articles that list the 10 things they have in common, the 5 morning routine tips that made them successful, the 25 quotes that inspired them, the 50 best decisions they ever made or the 20 traits that helped them achieve their dreams, I’ll probably never reach their level.
I want to quit for most of the same reasons that you do. Because we’re all struggling to make it in a world that often doesn’t listen, waiting for the right hand, or the right moment to play the wrong one. We’re all worried we don’t match up to the ideals and heroes we’ve set ourselves, and there’s a thousand things we’d rather fucking be doing.
But I don’t quit. I don’t quit every single day, when I wake up and I want to. I didn’t quit for 10 years, writing blog posts that nobody read, freaking out in panic attacks and deleting them before I would calm down and start all over again.
I didn’t quit when businesses failed, when I was broke, when I dropped out of law school, when I lost my record deal, when I was fired, when I was drunk and when I was sitting in a chair across from my therapist trying to explain what drove me to prove the world wrong.
I didn’t quit, and I won’t quit, because I’m in love with life. I’m in love with it, with breathing in and out, and eating diner hamburgers when I’ve worked out all week and smelling the world when it rains. And I’m in love with the work I do, no matter how hard it gets and how good it might feel (briefly) to walk away, from time to time. I’m in love with helping people.
I’m in love with the companies I’m building, and the products I’m making, though that love rises and falls with my temper on days like today. I’m in love with my readers, when they email me out of the blue to say that they give a shit. I’m in love with my clients and customers, the ones who follow through, who put their faith in me.
Wanting to quit is okay. Wanting to walk away from your business is okay. It happens to everyone. Here in Australia, most of the founders you’ll talk to really look up to the Atlassian founders, Scott and Mike — but do you think they didn’t wake up some days and want to quit, want to walk away and change their names and disappear?
We all do. No matter how set on our paths and our lives we are, we all want to quit every now and then. Because we’re humans, and like I always say — humans are beautiful, but we suck at remembering it.
I’m emailed by a lot of would-be writers and entrepreneurs who are worried that the fact they don’t have total faith in themselves and aren’t completely certain about where their lives are going and the work they’re doing, and the fact that they’re scared and want to quit, means they’re on the wrong path.
That’s not the case. The right path is the one you want to be on. And yeah, you’ll want to quit, but you’ll be just like the rest of us if you go through that. Being an artist, being a creative, being an entrepreneur, it’s about fighting with yourself to keep playing the game when it all feels hopeless. It’s about making one more gamble, and every time, setting your sights on a win, instead of leaving the table.
And you say, “Just be here now
Forget about the past
Your mask is wearing thin”
Let me throw one more dice
I know that I can win
I’m waiting for my real life to begin
— Colin Hay