It goes without saying that this self-sufficient lifestyle comes with certain characteristics. Like determination. Persistence.
And plain old stubbornness.
You know the kind of stubbornness I’m talking about. Right? Grit. Stick-to-it-iveness. Refusing to quit by all means.
Even when that might be the best thing to do.
I understand that all too well. I don’t like to quit. On anything. If I start something I want to see it through. Because it feels like failure if I don’t.
And I take that very personal.
But learning when it’s appropriate to walk away is a healthy thing to do. Think of some of those things that you’ve spent time and energy on…the ones that never worked out well, or maybe led to some serious frustration or even financial stress. Could you have better spent that time (and money) doing something else that might have been more fruitful?
None of us has the luxury to make more time. If only we did! So it’s important that we spend what we do have on the right projects, the right passions, the right…insert whatever fits here.
And just because we’re trying to be self-reliant doesn’t mean we have to be miserable.
So how do you know when its time to let go? Here’s things to consider when you feel like you’ve hit that wall.
You’ve lost the joy
Let me start out by saying this. Not everything we do in this life will be “full of joy”. Mucking out the pig pen or cleaning out the chicken coop doesn’t make me want to dance. Breaking water for the animals in the winter isn’t really that fun at all. But raising animals on the farm does give me a deep sense of joy, as does having our own source of healthy meat and eggs. So we do all the necessary chores because of the overall return.
I love growing fresh fruit and vegetables. But I loathe pulling weeds and dealing with the bugs we sometimes get during our hot and humid summer months.
If I didn’t love raising animals or fresh produce, then why would I continue to do all the things I don’t really enjoy? I can go to the store and buy eggs or tomatoes. I can find plenty of other things to do to fill my day.
We may not always have the ability to immediately change our lifestyle, but we can make small changes everyday that will ultimately lead to a better life. Nobody said you have to be stuck. And if the way we live doesn’t bring us joy, why wouldn’t we seek change?
It doesn’t fit in with your priorities
What are your priorities in life? Maybe you haven’t written them down, but I’m sure if you think about it you’ll quickly be able to identify what the top three or four important things to you are. (If not, take some time to think critically about this; I promise the exercise will go along way in helping you reach the kind of life that you want).
You don’t have to be rigid with this. But if you are dealing with overload, if you’re constantly running behind or if you’re just plain stressed all the time, maybe it’s time to reevaluate your priorities and where the things in your life fit in.
My family is one of the top priorities in my life. So when I was faced with another summer of working long hours in the market garden, while my kids played in the yard, it was a quick decision for me to make some changes. I don’t like to turn my son down when he wants to play catch, and I’m done with missing out on family summer adventures because I’m pulling weeds.
Balancing our activities against the truly important things in life is so important. It’s easy to lose our way, to lose our focus, and in the process we’re missing out on the things that make life worth living in the first place. Don’t let that happen.
You’re stressed out
Stress is never a good thing. Not only does it play a toll on our mental and emotional well-being, but science has proven time and again that stress has many negative effects on our physical health as well.
Each of us has our own capacity to handle stress. Know your limit, and don’t be afraid to take a time out when you’ve reached it. We over-commit ourselves and take on more than we handle, and we can convince ourselves pretty easily that we just need to bear down and deal with the pressure.
Sometimes just by taking time to breathe and think critically about the situation you can find clarity to finish the task (or whatever it is we’re facing).
And sometimes the appropriate action is to remove yourself from the situation altogether. Let it go. Move on to something else.
It’s not financially possible
This might seem obvious.
How many times have you started something only to realize later on you’ve seriously mistaken the financial impact it would have on you and your family?
It might not always be the right decision to quit when money gets tight. You’ve got to think about the investment you’ve already made, and whether it makes sense to lose that without any return. But just because you’ve spent money and time on something doesn’t necessarily mean you need to stick with it.
Ask yourself this: what happens if I don’t complete this project? If it’s detrimental to your family or creates a negative impact by not finishing, then find a way to finish.
But if it doesn’t, then its okay to walk away without feeling guilty.
“Of all the strategies, knowing when to quit may be the best of them all.”
– Chinese Proverb
Quitting something can be liberating. We put so much pressure on ourselves sometimes, and for what reason?
We should never make decisions out of guilt or false obligations. This life is too short to spend our time on things that don’t have a positive impact on the people we love or create a little joy in our own lives. Yes we have responsibilities, and we should fulfill them to the best of our ability. We all have things we need to do everyday that seem mundane and joyless.
But we should know when it’s time to quit the things we do have control over. Sometimes its healthy to walk away.
And its okay to be okay with that.