can't so i'll quit

Ending “I Can’t, So I’ll Quit”

In Happy, Wise by 1 Comment

can't so i'll quit

I’m writing a lot of words that I hope will someday become a book. Yesterday, I wrote about a time when I tried to do something big, something that was a huge stretch. It didn’t work out the way I wanted, the way I had vision boarded (not to be confused with water boarding).

So I quit. Not all at once, not in a pouty exit-stage-left flounce, but in my heart, I was out of there. Years before I actually put an end to the project. Which pretty much meant it wasn’t going to succeed.

Writing about this from the vantage point of today, I want to reach back to younger Jen, take me by the hand, and say,

“Baby doll, you got a truck load of crappy ideas ruining your show. Sit down, darling. We need to talk.”

Here are a few of my then very stinky ideas:

I had experienced early success with my first book, ergo all my ideas would be similarly wildly popular.

What I wish I knew: how to ask my audience what they wanted & match that to what I cared about. How to stop thinking I deserved more success. Ouch on my story of entitlement.

Success comes fast and with ease or it’s not meant to be. Best then to walk away.

This one stinks to high heaven. What new age manifesto made me think affirmations make a business plan?

When things don’t work, it means I’m talentless and I should go open a cheese store.

Ouch! Where was Carol Dweck and the growth mindset when I needed her? Mistakes and setbacks are a chance to ask, “What do I need to learn? What can I do differently next time?” Period. They are not an indication of a lack of talent.

Do the hard parts yourself. You can have help but not much.

What I know now: learn everything you can, often by doing, about your business/art so you can hire help intelligently. Assess often: what do I need help with so I can focus on bringing in more revenue and developing my skills/services/network? Where can I cut costs that aren’t contributing to my profit or my well-being? Where am I hiring help to “fix” me or my business rather than support services (hugely important – knowing that would have saved me $40,000 bucks!).

Myopic thinking, otherwise known as, “I had this idea, now that’s the way it has to go down. Or nada.”

Now I brainstorm with my Brain Trust. You have one, right?

If you are stuck in any similar crap thoughts, you aren’t in the position to decide whether to continue or quit! You don’t have good data set to make an informed decision (marrying a scientist has its perks). Instead, try:

  • taking action every day (reading, studying, and getting coached to get ready to take action does not count) and track the action you are taking
  • stop doing things that don’t move your project forward, even if everybody else is or you think they should have worked by now
  • telling people about your work/offer/gig/art
  • telling people again
  • telling people yet again
  • asking, “What do I need to learn?” when you fail instead of, “Obviously, I am crap and this is not meant to be.”
  • striking “meant to be” from your vocabulary
  • soliciting honest feedback from a few smart people, being undefended enough to hear what they say, and then brave enough to do what you think is best
  • indulging in self-care that makes you stronger and more resilient (rather than giving in to shadow comforts)
  • not to believe the critical voices that talk crap in your head
  • taking daily action instead of spending more time saying affirmations or visualizing the ideal outcome

Your ideas, your art, your social change movement deserves all you got, and all you got, given time, support, learning, and a growth mindset, is more than enough. Dig in my friend, dig in.



Originally published at

About the Author

Jen Louden is a writer and personal growth pioneer who helped launch the self-care movement with her first book The Woman’s Comfort Book. She's the author of 5 additional books on well-being and whole living, including The Woman's Retreat Book, which landed her on Oprah, and her newest The Life Organizer.

From the Author


  1. Cintia

    I found myself both iildernbcy excited while listening to this conversation. I am a high school teacher working in the public school system and have a strong desire to change the face of education. Too many students are being left behind, as well as the way that we teach and the tools that are used and years behind the rest of the world. Schools are still focused on information, and rarely move onto experience, story, and transmission, I would love to hear ideas as to how this can be brought into the doors of our public school system.

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