How To Evaluate When It’s Time To End Something

I used to write two newsletters for my business, one on employee topics, the other on health care finance topics. I started writing both of them in February of 2003, and in some fashion I’ve kept up with them over all this time.

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A few weeks ago, I finally decided it was time to end the health care newsletter. It wasn’t a decision I took lightly, yet when all was said and done I knew it was the right time to end it. There are many people who post these things saying that one should never quit and give anything up, because success is just around the corner. How one decided to measure success is up to them, but I tend to believe that there are times when you’re beating your head against a wall in some fashion, and at that point it’s time to give up the ghost, take your ball and go home.

Still, even though I say it’s up to each individual, there should be a series of steps one takes before deciding to give it all up. That includes anything you do in life, including divorce, changing jobs, having children, getting married, or rooting against any sports team I support. With that in mind, here are those steps, with my mentioning how I came to my decision.

1. Determine how much passion you still have for it. If you’re just going through the motions with something you either need to figure out how to refresh it or get away from it because it can be quite a brain drain. I pretty much lost the passion on writing about health care finance issues and topics on a regular basis. Those articles took awhile to research and write, and I kept trying to figure out what I could write about that was new and fresh, and kept failing.

2. Determine the time you spend thinking about it as opposed to working on it. When couples are getting ready to separate, they start spending less time with each other, or dreading much of the time they’re together, even if they’re able to enjoy moments together. In my case I started out writing that newsletter every six weeks, and it started pushing itself to every 4 or 5 months. That just wasn’t going to get it done.

3. Determine if you’re getting out of it what you want to get out of it. Some jobs are just stepping stones to something bigger and better, and at a certain point you might recognize that you can’t progress where you are and want something better. In my case, I reached the high number of 60 subscribers for that newsletter and then it pretty much stagnated, ranging only between 50 to 55 subscribers after awhile.

4. Determine if your efforts can support whatever actions you can put into it. Many people have children they then have problems supporting. Other couples will talk about it up front and may decide to push things back until their situation is better. In my case I had to weigh if I was generating any income out of it at all, or even any interest in what I was writing. On the first part nothing whatsoever; on the second, I actually got it into many health care magazines and newsletters around the country, some national, and I thought that might help me in some fashion, even if it generated a few calls. It didn’t, and other than a few links here and there, I didn’t feel I ever got any real benefit out of it.

5. Determine if there’s any other way you could handle things to keep it going. Years ago there was a guy on Dr. Phil who had to be convinced that a product he was still trying to market 7 years after he’d created it just wasn’t marketable, and was probably obsolete. He hadn’t even made 100 sales of his product, yet has cleared out his life savings first mass producing the things, then trying all kinds of marketing for the item. He couldn’t think of anything he hasn’t tried, and Dr. Phil convinced him it was time to move on. In my case this particular newsletter was kind of unique, in that no one else was writing anything like it, though some were writing things close to it. I didn’t have another way to market it, I wasn’t making any money off it, and it was taking my thinking and production time away from those things that were actually bringing in money.

All 5 of these factors led me to give it up. I don’t see it as a failure, though, because I have enough content there to put together a book if I so choose to do some years down the line, and those particular concepts are timeless. And I only heard from two people when I ended it, which pretty much told me almost no one was going to miss it. Now we’re all at peace, and I can be more useful in other areas, such as writing this blog.

Don’t ever take giving something up lightly, especially if you’ve put your soul into it. Realize, though, that sometimes the best way to move forward is to drop the baggage holding you back.

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13 thoughts on “How To Evaluate When It’s Time To End Something”

  1. Hi Mitch.

    It sounds like a wise decision.

    If it isn’t generating income, is something you’re no longer passionate about, isn’t generating any other benefits for you, and only has a few readers, I agree. It’s time to give it up and move on to something that is working better for you.

    If it was your primary money maker, I could argue that putting a roof over your head can sometimes be more important than passion for the subject.

    All the best,


    1. Thanks John. If it were my primary income maker I’d be working on doing something else while still doing it; at least I hope I would.

  2. Wise words Mitch. I am just starting out blogging and my passion is definitely there. Hope to start a newsletter soon as I figure out how to do it on my blog! However I had a website up and it wasn’t going anywhere and I knew soon as I started blogging this was the way to go. It had cost me a lot of money but I knew it was wasting my time and energy and if I decide to go back to the niche it will be as a blog and done very differently. I don’t see it as a failure but many lessons well learnt.
    Patricia Perth Australia

    1. That’s great Patricia! Yeah, for some folks blogs are a better way to go than a full fledged website. For me, I like the mixture.

  3. This post of yours comes at a very good time for me, thanks Mitch. I’m currently making a lot of changes, from the way I think about things to the way and means with which I present them to the world outside my self (that word is separated into two words, deliberately, as I regard ‘self’ in this case as having a type of world inside it that doesn’t necessarily tally with the world outside it).

    I’ve made decisions like this one you write about, a few times in my life. The biggest one for me years ago was deciding to give up trying to be a fiction writer. I’d struggled with it for most of my life and something had always stopped me. Eventually I opened my paper diary and worked out what I’d achieved and what I’d lost along the way. And my conclusions were that I’d lost more time and peace of mind from trying to write fiction than I’d achieved in success or satisfaction. It was time to stop. (It also never ‘called’ to me like fiction writing typically calls to most authors).

    Currently, as I wrote about in ‘waking the creative spirit’, I’m realising that I need to concentrate on what moves me and get rid of the stuff that doesn’t. There’s lot of stuff that didn’t make it into that post, but the whole exercise has made me feel much more peaceful, much happier.

    You’ve made some very good points here, Mitch. May I print out a copy of this for myself, please?

    1. Val, anything that helps you out or makes you feel good, go ahead. I’m honored, although surprised since if you’d done it I would have never known. 🙂

  4. This was a subject recently brought up in a conversation- when to “divorce” your business.

    Anything online takes time, but after a while you just know- like you said your heart just isn’t in it anymore. Or it doesn’t generate an income………..

    1. Those are big things to evaluate, Carolee. For instance, this blog generates little income, but my heart’s definitely in it. Same with my other two blogs. But maybe not necessarily for all my websites.

  5. Letting something go that you’ve put a lot of time and effort into can be heart-breaking, but you’re right… sometimes it’s just not worth the energy you put into it anymore. I’ve recently decided to sell one of my websites that I’ve lost my passion for, and even though I feel a measure of relief for not having to worry about updating it anymore, there is still a part of me that thinks I shouldn’t have let it go.

    One useful strategy is to take a little holiday from something before you make a final decision. I find that I go through phases. Sometimes I get a little bored with something and I start giving my attention to something else, only to find that it re-awakens after a while.

    Wishing you the best of success. 🙂

    1. Same here, Mia. I just sold one of my websites as well, and I agonized over it for about a week before realizing that I just couldn’t do it justice anymore.

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