Big Quitters Start Small

Quitting is an exercise like any other. You don’t have to rush in and try to deadlift the heaviest thing in your life. The big, scary weights aren’t going anywhere so you may as well start with something you can pick up.

For example, when I went to Mexico I quit buying facial cleanser. At first, it was just because I was flying hand-luggage only and it was over the 100ml size limit. So I took off without it. A few days of soap and water on the road and… nothing happened. My skin – long accustomed to expensive cleansers and moisturisers – remained exactly the same. It didn’t flake off or swell up or go greasy.

Now I use Dove bar soap once a day, which costs less than a quid and lasts for months. This represents a considerable savings over £6-£10 on a cream cleanser that lasts a few weeks, so switching has saved me a lot of money.

More importantly, once I realised that ‘cleanse, tone, moisturise’ is pure marketing bullshit I started wondering “what else do I really not need?”

Turns out I can live without a huge handbag collection and a closetful of impractical shoes. Nothing bad has happened as a result of only owning one winter coat and one pair of trainers. Sure, I still have loads of stuff I treasure and would hate to get rid of but it’s good to know I don’t need it.

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Join the IQ Club

Join the IQ Club — because smart people know when to quit.

Quitting is good. Seriously. If you want to be happier right now quit something.

What bugs you? Your job? Your crummy relationship? The headlines? Carpooling? Organising play dates for your kids? Pretending to be interested in your friend’s kids? Grocery shopping?

Whatever it is, take a deep breath and say – preferably aloud – “I Quit.”

You can. You are an adult, of sound mind and free will. Act like one. Do not say “I can’t.” If you won’t, be honest and say that. But don’t say “can’t”.

We’ve been sold this bullshit that in order to improve our lives we need to do more. So we run ourselves ragged to work harder, go to the gym more, eat six small meals a day, be more sociable, catch up on the latest whatever, do up the spare room… the list runs on forever. As long as we play that game we’ll always be a few tick-boxes away from perfection, so quit.

What do you have to lose? Bad habits, bad relationships, boring friends, time-and-money wasting hobbies you don’t really enjoy, uncomfortable shoes, the respect of people you don’t give a shit about anyway.

The reason a lot of us don’t quit stuff is we’re scared to falling behind. Bollocks to that. Let’s stop chasing impossibilities and revel in taking control. Be a proud quitter.

Join the IQ Club by posting a comment saying what you’re quitting, email or Tweet @CilaWarncke with your IQ(uit) pledge. My favourite “quit” wins a bar of chocolate and a copy of “On Self-Respect” so hit me up and make it interesting!

No Regrets

There is an incredibly poignant piece in the Guardian on the top five regrets of the dying. It is so easy to get caught up in busy-ness and think: “I’ll be happy tomorrow, I’ll talk to my friend tomorrow, I’ll make time for myself tomorrow, I’ll start following my dream tomorrow.” No, no, no. Think about what you want, who you love, and where you want to go in life and act NOW. No regrets.

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

“This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”

Quote of the day: Dan Wieden

Just do the things you love. Do what turns you on, say what you wish somebody else would say, and show me something nobody else has, that’s of interest to you. I think sometimes part of the problem is this whole thing becomes so complex… it seems like a mountain range and it’s really just a bunch of idiots up there trying to figure out how to keep alive for the next day.
Dan Wieden of Wieden + Kennedy on getting ahead in advertising, or life.

Life in a List

Perhaps my time at Q magazine is to blame for my obsession with lists. Four years of “100 Greatest Albums”, “20 Worst Rock Haircuts” and so forth turned my brain into a list-generating machine. I like lists, though. They reduce life to neatly quantifiable parts. Black and white. “To do” and “done”. The problem is getting sucked into the mind-set that if something doesn’t fit on, or add to, an arbitrary list it isn’t worth doing. We spend far too much time actively striving to fit ourselves into lists. Ask any resume writer: the key to selling yourself is to look great in bullet-points.

Life doesn’t work like that, though. Meaningful achievements and valuable experiences alike tend to resist being whittled down to fit into tidy lists. Not that there is anything wrong with a little list-making. Sometimes it’s nice to look back at a resume, a journal, a series of (god help us) Facebook status updates, and remember what we’ve done. But we should never confuse who we are with what we put down on a piece of paper.

Quote of the Day – Carson McCullers

A marvellous quote from The Ballad of the Sad Cafe

Life could become one long dim scramble just to get the things needed to keep alive. And the confusing point is this: All useful things have a price, and are bought only with money, as that is the way the world is run. You know without having to reason about it the price of a bale of cotton, or a quart of molasses. But no value has been put on human life; it is given to us free and taken without being paid for. What is it worth? If you look around, at times the value may seem to be little or nothing at all. Often after you have sweated and tried and things are not better for you, there comes a feeling deep down in the soul that you are not worth much.
— Carson McCullers