How To Quit Your Startup (Or Anything Else You Need To Quit) – FS203

🎙️ Listen to the episode:
Episode 203: How To Quit Your Startup (Or Anything Else You Need To Quit) – FS203

Listen, some things you just need to quit. You realize you need to stop doing it, stop it. Acknowledge and move on.

But other things… other things are big, hairy, important, terrifying things.

To quit these kinds of things is heavy, emotional, traumatic.

So, in this article (and accompanying podcast) I’m going to share:

  • How we get “bamboozled” into working on stuff that burns us out;
  • What role our intuition plays in deciding what to quit and what to pursue;
  • How to play a simple game to make your quitting decision crystal clear.

Let’s get into it.

But First, the podcast

If you are thinking about quitting something you need to listen to this podcast.

You’re going to hear three different stories of quitting, how each person knew, what they learned, etc. Their different perspectives will inspire you.

But even MORE important, we interview a Fizzle member who JUST resigned from a startup he started three years ago.

It is powerful.

So, please, be our guest, pour yourself a cup of something warm and listen to this fine podcast episode.

Why do we need to quit things?

Have you ever wondered why we even find ourselves in situations that need to be quit?

Like, WHY don’t we just nail things from the start?

Sometimes we get “Bamboozled.”

Bamboozled definition

“Bamboozled” means to be cheated or fooled. It’s like being conned; promised something, but it was a lie from the start.

For many of us in the entrepreneurship world it’s success that bamboozles us.

I mean, have you thought about how GOOD it would feel to BE successful?

My goodness. Yes please.

To not have to worry, to not have to strain and try so hard to BE successful? to BECOME a “success”!??


(By the way, if you haven’t defined what YOU mean when YOU say success, you’re opening yourself to a lot of tail-chasing.)

Bamboozled by Opportunity

I have a friend named Neville. Great guy who, about three years ago, had a pretty good idea.

His idea was so good, in fact, that the local startup incubator people told him: “you know you could make millions with this, right? Join our incubator, we’ll help you get funded, you’re gonna be a star, kid!”

This got Neville and his partner SO FIRED UP. Millionaires!? Bring it on! We can do it!

What’s that smell? Oh, that’s OPPORTUNITY.

Opportunity is success’ little brother. Opportunity is like the feelings you have ABOUT success BEFORE the success itself.

Opportunity is like a down payment on success — you don’t own it outright, but you’re working on it.

So, think about how you would feel if you were in Neville’s shoes — feeling all that opportunity, all that hope, all that promise about the future.

Neville committed, putting his whole ass on the line to make this vision a reality

Fast forward three years — Neville is BURNT. OUT. His mind is a cesspool of stress, constant thoughts thoughts thoughts, worry worry worry.

After months and months of the mental struggle, he started having panic attacks. This is NOT fun, you guys.

In the beginning we could smell the opportunity, the promise.

Opportunity can take you off course

But now, as it sometimes happens with opportunity given enough time, we’re starting to doubt, we’re starting to feel this may not be for us after all.

This is what it looks like to be BAMBOOZLED by opportunity.

It’s like opportunity has gravity. We’re so hungry for success that opportunity, the down payment on success, is strong enough to pull us WAY off-course.

In time, we’re in the same situation as Neville — so far out of alignment with ourselves that our mind and body have to yell louder and louder for us to hear.

Coming Back To Ourselves

I asked Neville if he could send a message back in time, what would it be? Here’s his response:

“The worst thing that you can do is shut down, I did that. Not admitting to myself that I was feeling like this. I, myself, didn't know that I was feeling like this. I set this goal and got committed to it.

Know that it is OK to fail or quit. Know that there's a time where you have to recognize that it's too much, have enough courage and self confidence to recognize it.

STOP LYING TO YOURSELF. You're lying to yourself, this is not who you are. And that’s the thing — I knew that, I just didn’t acknowledge it. I lied to myself.

This is why we sometimes need to quit things. Because we say “yes” to things that eventually cause us to drift too far away from who we really are.

It’s often just that simple — sometimes you’ve gotta quit something because it’s just not who you are.

Quitting, in this sense, is a very powerful evolutionary mechanism, helping us live more and more aligned with ourselves over time.

Aside: have you thought about how important external validation is?

I’ll try to keep this brief, but I think it’s important.

We are fiercely social animals; that is just true about humans. So what other people think is a powerful force in our lives.

So, when startup experts tell you “you could make millions with this,” things get real emotional real fast. These are people who are SMART! They have a startup incubator! They know what they’re talking about and they think my idea could make millions!

Now, picture this: you’re the gal who’s doing the startup. You have a good idea, knowledgable people think you’re smart, wealthy people invest in you… you’re the startup gal.

Feels good, right?

But, when you QUIT that startup to do something society at large doesn’t cherish the same way — let’s say, you want to write young adult fantasy fiction — well then you don’t get the same kind of public regard; you’re no longer socially validated quite the same way. You now have to find all the validation you need in yourself and your connected relationships. That’s difficult for many of us at first.

OK, all that to say: external pressure also plays an important role in how we get so off-course. If you don’t know who you are, the world has a lot of ideas about who you SHOULD be. Just check your email inbox for ideas about what the world thinks you SHOULD be.

OK, so, let’s talk about 3 simple, clarifying tactics that will help you make a decision about the thing you’re thinking about quitting.

1. Tune-in to Your Intuition

Let me write again for you what Neville wishes he could travel back in time and say to himself:

“The worst thing that you can do is shut down, I did that. Not admitting to myself that I was feeling like this. I, myself, didn't know that I was feeling like this. I set this goal and got committed to it.

Know that it is OK to fail or quit. Know that there's a time where you have to recognize that it's too much, have enough courage and self confidence to recognize it.

STOP LYING TO YOURSELF. You're lying to yourself, this is not who you are. And that’s the thing — I knew that, I just didn’t acknowledge it. I lied to myself.

Mirror mirror on the wall

Ugh, I really, really resonate with what Neville wrote there. I have those seasons of my life where I didn’t even know I was lying to myself… trying to be this guy or that guy… totally lost.

(Also, you need to listen to this podcast episode if you haven’t!)

Are you lying to yourself?

There’s this phenomenon called INTUITION, a thing you know instinctually, knowledge at the level of instincts.

The gamble I’m making with my life is that my life will be better if I’m more informed my my intuition, by a sense of inner guidance.

Now, you might think, “Pffffft. Bullshit.”

But listen, as Jim Carrey put it in his terrific commencement speech: you can fail doing something you DON’T like. So why not try something you DO like?

“Intuition” = what you like, what you’re naturally attracted to, what feels good to you.

You can be in boiling water by NOT following your intuition. That’s what happened to Neville — bamboozled by opportunity.

So, you’re not SAFER if you choose not to listen to your intuition. In fact, what if it’s the opposite.

Neville, after this crazy experience, realizes how far away he got from his internal guidance system. So he’s actively pursuing things that won’t burn him out.

But it’s not easy. Here’s how he talks about “tuning in” to his intuition:

That intuition is a really tiny voice, man, and I keep losing it. It's like a weak radio signal and I just have to keep tuning to it. Sometimes I lose trust in my intuition, sometimes I can't hear it, sometimes there are other voices that drown it out.

1. The big insight for a person who’s burning out is: you might be lying to yourself.

2. How do you know if you’re lying to yourself or not? Your intuition.

3. SO, the first step in figuring out if you need to quit something is just that: tune-in to your intuition.

If you don’t know how to listen to your intuition, you can start with this journaling webcast.

You can also listen in to the podcast episode above as Steph, Corbett, Neville and myself talk about our intuition. It looks different in each story, but each of us had our own ways of trusting our decision to quit.

2. Play the “Objective Stakeholder” Game

Ok, now, sometimes you are looking at potentially quitting something really big. Like, catastrophic. Big stakes.

There’s a simple game you can play for a situation like that.

Notice: I said SIMPLE, not EASY.

Here’s how to play it:

  1. Define a specific goal you need to achieve. For Neville it was “raise xxxxxx money by xxxx date.”
  2. Create a board of directors. These can be friends, family, advisors of any kind. Think of them like your own little group of councilors who come together to help you make hard decisions. These people will play a very vital role in this game.
  3. Talk over your situation and your goal (Step 1) with your board of directors. You want to get approval from the board on your goal given your current situation.
  4. Try to achieve your goal.
  5. Talk over your results with the board of directors and make decisions.

OK, before you dismiss this out of hand because it’s hard or weird or would freak your friends out, let’s look at why this game will actually work SO WELL for you.

This game works because it gets you out of your own head. It forces you to get concrete, specific and objective.

You can define your own goal, sure. BUT, everything changes when you get a group of people together on a Skype call.

Now YOU have to communicate your situation and goal to them in a way that makes sense. They’ll ask questions, you’ll clarify, and your understanding of your own situation will change.

Neville went through exactly this process. It gave him the hard data he needed to make his extremely challenging decision.

And it also helped him achieve the next step.

3. Do Enough

Like I said above, some things can just be quit. Nobody gets hurt, you just pull the chord and move on.

But other things require MORE. There are people involved, hearts that could get hurt, egos that could bruise, bridges that might needlessly catch fire.

The “Objective Stakeholder” game is a great trick to help you DO ENOUGH. It can help you see the who, what, where, when, why of how you can quit this thing without making life-long enemies.

Neville is still close with the partners and board of directors at the company he resigned from. He was pleasantly surprised to realize after the fact that it wan’t necessary to make any enemies.

That might be a possibility for you too. So, please, do enough as you move on. Don’t break your back — after all, you’re quitting this thing out of better respect for yourself — but do enough.

Quitting Time

So, sometimes we gotta quit stuff. Sometimes we lie to ourselves and pursue opportunities that cause us to drift too far away from who we really are.

When that happens we’ve got to get honest, tune into our intuition and get out of our heads.

Have you quit something? Did it lead you to finding something immeasurably more valuable?

Tell your quitting story in the comments below.

Thank you so much for reading! This was a big one. If it helped you in some way, please give it a share.

Earn a living doing something you love.

Grow an audience and get paid for your work as an independent creator. Fizzle is where creators come to learn, share and make progress toward their online dreams.

I’ve taken a lot of courses and been involved in several paid communities since I started my business, but I’ve never ever felt like anyone CARED as much about seeing my reach my goals as the Fizzle Team. They show up for me as much as I show up for myself. Thank you SO much, you guys!

Claire Pelletreau

📓 Articles & Announcements

  • Introducing Fizzle 2.0

    Today is an exciting day for Fizzle. We’re announcing a complete refresh of Fizzle, including every aspect of our user experience – courses, content, live events and more. Since we first opened Fizzle in 2012, we’ve provided thousands of entrepreneurs and creators with training, coaching and community. Today, this refresh marks

  • The Secret to Creating Consistent Content (that nobody’s talking about)

    Hands up if you easily create consistent content week after week without fail. My guess? Since you’re reading this article, that’s probably not the case.   But despite what you may be thinking  – you’re not alone.  Lots of

  • How to Start a Blog (The 5 Most Essential Steps)

    Starting a blog can be a life changing decision. I started blogging on a sabbatical while road-tripping through Mexico one year, and had no idea just how much my life would change as a result. Because I started a blog, I have: Reached millions of people Made friends around the

🎙️ Podcast Episodes

  • The Golden Age of Creators with Barrett Brooks

    Barrett Brooks is COO at ConvertKit, which is a email marketing software for creators (authors, musicians, chefs, filmmakers, comedians, YouTubers, etc.). In this episode, Barrett goes into depth on how to own the relationship between your audience independently of social media and other platforms. By creating your own website, and

  • “Traveling Light” with Chase Reeves

    Today we have former Co-Host and Co-Founder of The Fizzle Show, Chase Reeves! We catch up with Chase today as he embarks on his own podcast journey with his new show: “Traveling Light,” where he explores the ideas, lifestyles, and habits of pop creatives, thinkers, and makers

  • Life Profitability: Measuring What Matters with Adii Pienaar

    Adii Pienaar is founder of WooCommerce and Conversio, both of which he successfully sold. In his new book Life Profitability, Adii gives us a new perspective for becoming self-aware, recognising your values, and understanding your impact.