I often find myself thinking about this example I found in Seth Godin’s “The Dip”. Here it is (my emphasis added):
Snowboarding is a hip sport. It’s fast, exciting and reasonably priced; and it makes you look very cool. So why are there so few snowboarders? Because learning the basic skills constitutes a painful Dip. It takes a few days to get the hang of it, and, during those few days, you’ll get pretty banged up. It’s easier to quit than it is to keep going.
The brave thing to do is to tough it out and end up on the other side–getting all the benefits that come from scarcity. The mature thing to do is not even to bother starting to snowboard because you’re probably not going to make it through the Dip. And the stupid thing to do is to start, give it your best shot, waste a lot of time and money, and quit right in the middle of the Dip.
A few people will choose to do the brave thing and end up the best in the world. Informed people will probably choose to do the mature thing and save their resources for a project they are truly passionate about. Both are fine choices. It’s the last choice, the common choice, the choice to give it a shot and then quit that you must avoid if you want to succeed.”
I love this story because it’s a simple example that succinctly navigates the complexity around smart quitting.
If I had to summarize the takeaway, here’s what I’d say: be informed before you commit to new things, but be relentless once you do