How to Quit a Project Like the Defeated Republican Health Care Bill
You will never accomplish everything you want. It's a hard truth to deal with, but if you don't, you'll waste your life on unrealistic, unnecessary projects: renovating your entire home, writing a novel, repealing and replacing Obamacare. Sometimes it's time to give up,
like Mitch McConnell did last night after two more senators dropped support for the bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act
We've written a lot about the art of
In our most exhaustive guide on quitting , Melanie Pinola listed ways to recognize a dead project: You're experiencing more frustration than reward , you're missing out on more important work , you're staying for the wrong reasons , or your friends keep telling you to quit . Maybe you've spun out of control, propping up your project by telling your collaborators what they want to hear , and the truth is crashing down on you:
McConnell has tried to overcome divisions within his caucus by selling his plan as different things to different people. He can tell archconservatives that the Ted Cruz amendment, which lets insurers sell plans that discriminate against sick people, will lead to a deregulated individual market where healthy people and sick people are split into different risk pools. And he can tell his mainstream flank the opposite.
Even if you ignore all the signs, anything could cause your pipe dreams to crumble. Maybe one of your core collaborators suddenly needed surgery that would cost nearly $100,000 to one of America's 29 million uninsured citizens, so he can no longer help you keep those citizens uninsured.
Once you can tell it's time to quit, you need a plan. As entrepreneur Akhil Gupta wrote in Lifehacker,
it's important to tie up loose ends
. If your project involves many other contributors, it's irresponsible to just abandon everything, like
That part of my analogy doesn't quite scan, so I'm quitting it and moving on. See? That was easy!
Once you decide to quit a problem project, you should already feel relief wash over you. You'll start counting the benefits. You'll have more time for other projects you've dragged your feet on, like raising the minimum wage or empowering the impotent Office of Government Ethics .
You'll learn how to fail more quickly next time. Maybe you won't waste seven years on the next pet project. Seven years of
fumbling your credibility
, seven years of
false starts and false hope
. Seven years fighting one of
Maybe next time you won't fight a losing battle while the other side moves on to promoting single-payer healthcare .
There's one last exciting fringe benefit: According to a 2007 psychological study , quitting might be good for your health. And these days, who can afford to get sick?