Derek Sivers

Programmer, writer, avid student of life. I make useful things, and share what I learn.

Quitting something you love

Personal change needs some space to happen. To bring something new into your life, you need somewhere to put it. If your current habits are filling your day, where are these new habits supposed to go?

The English word “quit” comes from old French meaning “to free” or “to release”.

We know about quitting something that’s bad for you, or something you hate. But what about quitting something you love?

I rebel against anything that feels like addiction. When I hear myself saying “I need this”, I want to challenge that dependency and prove my independence.

It’s usually something tiny.

I always kept mints in the car. One day when I ran out, I thought, “Oh no! I need more!” But as soon as I felt that need? No mints in the car since that day.

Sometimes it’s something big.

I used to have an awesome job. I loved it so much that I became too comfortable. So I made myself quit. That made me figure out how to be a full-time musician.

In 2010, I felt addicted to America. It was my comfort zone. I loved it too much. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. So I made myself quit. I haven’t lived there since 2010, and probably never will again.

People often ask if I miss any of it. Any regrets?

Not at all.

I still love everything I quit. But not as much as I love all this room for change.

If you think this sounds horrible, congratulations! I’m thankful for people like you. I’m glad AC/DC has been playing the exact same music for 43 years, without quitting. But that would be Hell for me.

Today I’m quitting something I’ve loved doing part-time since 1994, and basically full-time since 2008. I’m no longer answering email questions.

In the last eight years, I’ve answered over 192,000 emails from 78,000 people. Most of them had giant life-sized questions that took me hours a day to answer. I’ll continue to reply to emails, but just not questions.

It was definitely an addiction. I still love it, so it’s hard to quit. But it’s time to make room for change.

Empty cage photo by Hartwig HKD.

Please see my now page at sivers.org/now for what I’m doing now, and my contact page at sivers.org/contact for why you should still email me to introduce yourself.

P.S. Yes my last few articles were leading up to this. “Tilting my mirror”, “Frequently Asked Questions”, and “Solitary Socialite”. All in the context of “Saying no to everything else”.