When enough is enough: How to recognise the red flags when it’s time to call it quits

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You’re often confronted with conflicting ideas about whether you should push yourself to keep on trying, or call it quits on something – especially if it’s something you really wanted to do when you started. However, it doesn’t have to be that hard. This article tells a story to illustrate the dangers of pushing through and what to consider to help you decide, in the moment, when enough is enough.

The founders of BFB had many weird experiences together, one of which taught them that while you can pride yourself on being tough, it’s important to know when to call it quits.

On the road with a (very old) VW beetle

Way back in 2000, the three original boobies agreed to deliver a newly-restored VW Beetle to someone in Cape Town. It was a fairly long drive of almost 650 miles, but it seemed like a great opportunity to enjoy a road trip and visit the beautiful mother city.

They set off in high spirits at the crack of dawn, planning to drive straight through, both to save money and get there as soon as possible. At first things went well. They sang songs, ate snacks and played games.

A bad smell

Then they began to notice a horribly insidious, sulfuric odour. Fart jokes kept them amused for a while, but worry quickly crept in. The acrid smell couldn’t be blocked out with any amount of scarves over noses and they started to cough.

It was the era before mobile phones

After a while they were forced to stop on the side of the road to try to see what was wrong. However, none of them being mechanically minded, it was a rather pointless exercise.

Once more, they gamely set forth, but the smell got worse and worse. Their eyes began to water and the coughing got worse too.

Don’t pretend to be fine when you’re not

Despite their determination to keep a cheery outlook, they were forced to stop more and more frequently just to gulp some fresh air. All the while pretending they were quite fine. Karen, David and Melissa, the three self-professed musketeers, didn’t see themselves as the quitting types. “When enough is enough” was just not in their vocabulary.

No joy in the journey

The open windows prevented any attempt at talking  and by this time the whole cheery vibe was a distant memory. But no one wanted to be the first to give up.

Breathing shallowly, they pressed on, taking turns to push each other forth by sheer force of will.

Reach out for help sooner than later

Suddenly smoke began to pour out from under the passenger seat. By this time, due to their never-say-die attitude, they had made it almost all the way to Cape Town.

Pulling over on the side of the road, they could finally see the problem. Lifting up the smoking rubber mat, they found the battery hidden inexplicably under the passenger seat instead of under the hood where you’d expect to find it. The battery had gotten so hot the rubber mat covering it literally caught fire. They finally admitted defeat and made their way to the nearest town to request assistance.

Almost poisoning yourself is not the way

The mechanic took one sniff at the car and asked them if they were okay in their heads. He diagnosed a faulty battery, which had been leaking toxic acid and highly poisonous fumes.

Despite the gargantuan effort to make it all the way to Cape Town without stopping over, they had no choice but to find some accommodation and collect the car the next morning, with a new battery installed. It was painful to realise that the issue was a small problem that could have been easily resolved hours previously. But it was one that could have killed them, or caused long term damage to their lungs.

The benefits must outweigh the risks

The moral of this story is that toughing it out can be good, but there are clear red flags to signal when you need to stop and think about what you can do differently. When faced with a decision in life, the benefits must always outweigh the risks.

Blue-Footed Booby Success Formula: When enough is enough: How to recognise the red flags when it’s time to call it quits

  1. Listen to your body. If your body is sending you signals that something is not okay, take it seriously. Don’t pretend to be fine when you’re not – call it quits and reconsider the whole thing if you’re experiencing any of these:
    1. Pain
    2. Unusual physical symptoms
    3. Something smells bad in a dangerous way
    4. A situation feels bad or unsafe
    5. Something feels different in a bad way
    6. Something looks weird or out of place
  2. Remember that the journey is just as important as the final destination. If there is no joy in your journey, it may be time to change direction.
  3. Take a moment to stop and weigh up if the benefits are still greater than the risks. If not, then enough is enough and it is time to call it quits, at least temporarily.
  4. Practice mindfulness by pausing and checking in with yourself. Ask yourself the simple question: “What do I really need in this moment?”
  5. Reach out for help sooner than later. You don’t have to struggle on alone, there is always some kind of help out there.

If you have a story about toughing it out or keeping going when you really should have stopped, we’d love to hear about it in the comments, or shoot us an email. If you find any of these tips helpful, share this article story on social media.

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