The art of knowing when to quit


It’s all going wrong!


Then lots and lots of swearwords.

That’s been the soundtrack to the last two day’s attempts to upload my daily piece of writing to this website. Why was it so difficult? Well, mainly because what I was doing was, perhaps, a little over ambitious for the relatively basic bit of software I’m using . But some of it, I think is just the way it goes some days. Some days it seems that nothing can stop me. I have momentum behind me and a clear task ahead, the momentum and clairty push  me through the task, into the happy rosey world of Completion. Some days that happy rosy place is like an impenetrable island, the Alcatraz of endeavor, if you like.

I don’t think my plight is exclusive to writers, no. It seems to happen to all of us somedays, I think. How many times have you gone to do something, a quick bit of D-I-Y or a small job around the house or in the garden. It’ll only take twenty minutes, you think to yourself, blissfully unaware the rosy world of Achievement is shrouded in fog. First you can’t find what you need for the job, so you pop to the shop to get it. You’re delayed at the shop and when you get home, you find the thing you bought isn’t up to the task you needed it for. By now you’re an hour into your twenty minute job and you’re thinking, I might as well finish what I started. So, you go back to the shops, stand in line at the customer service counter to return the item that you just bought and swap it for something that will be your passport to Planet Jobdone. There’s a bit of a delay getting home; you’re now two hours and thirty minutes into your “twenty-minute job”.

Now you’ve got the tool you need, the boat of Completion sails so close you could jump right on it but there’s just one last little tidy, one small detail that’s been outstanding for ages and now you’re on the ladder you might as well see to it. And then the entire bastard ceiling comes down, light fitting and all. You’ve missed the boat and now your way’s been blocked by a yawning chasm that’s going to cost a fair bit to cross. Your twenty-minute job will now cost you twenty-per-minute to be put right by a professional.

The moral of this story? Know when to quit. Don’t spend two hours on something that defies completion. Don’t keep your partner waiting around for two hours so you can both have dinner together, with the words “be with you in a minute” hanging in the air. For me, those words are forever synonymous with the sound of grinding teeth. Know when to quit. Don’t keep plugging on and on because some days the universe doesn’t want you to see that rosy world of Achievement. And that’s okay because sometimes it’s just choc-full of other people rejoicing in their success, and we hope they enjoy their stay. Don’t we? Success, big or small, whether it happens to me or not should still be celebrated because I know, I hope my turn will come soon.


Martin Gregory



One thought on “The art of knowing when to quit

  1. Oh my we have all been there I often make a huge mess and achieve nothing but more work which is why the job has been undone for so long. Because in your heart of hearts you know it will be a bigger job than it looks. Take advice leave it alone.


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