man in black sweater and blue denim jeans sitting on brown wooden chair

Bad Life Advice I’m Tired Of Hearing

I have a serious beef with some of our tried and true inspirational sayings. It’s bad advice!  In fact, I’ve discarded it for most of my life and  that seems to have worked out pretty well so far.  But, I’m tired of seeing others suffer needlessly as they cling to this nonsense, believing they’re doing the right thing.

So let’s debunk my two least favorite pieces of so-called excellent and inspirational life advice.

Never Give Up/Never Quit

Although I am in favor of hanging in there and persisting when times get tough, I do not believe in “never give up/never quit”.  Imagine a person trying to break through a brick wall by banging their head against it. Would you advise them to never give up and keep going no matter how difficult it is? Of course not! In that situation, the head banger has given their best effort, and failed. They might even be injured. Or maybe they hadn’t realized how stupid their mission was. In any case, they can’t break that wall down.

Sometimes we try our best yet fail, and in that case, the best thing we can do is accept it and move on.  Life killing jobs, broken marriages, destructive habits; these are examples of things we should quit. That sounds obvious, but we probably all know people who just won’t do it.

anxious young woman cover wing ears with hands sitting on chair
Photo by Liza Summer on

Maintain A Singular Focus

We hear it from sports people all the time –  “that player” is singularly focused on winning a championship…. Or there’s the student who gets praised for their singular focus on academics. I don’t consider these to be good things.

What happens to us when we are singularly focused? A singular focus, by definition is very narrow. Too narrow. What if I decided to drive down the highway with a singular focus on the road in front of me? That sounds good, right? But what if a deer is on the shoulder of the road and because I’m not looking for it, I can’t react in time when it jumps out in front of me. Or how about the A+ employee who is singularly focused on doing the best possible job they can do? Maybe they bring too much work home with them, miss watching their kids grow up, don’t take enough vacations, burn out and get sick.

Focus is good but a singular focus on anything makes us blind to everything else, eventually resulting in some sort of negative outcome.

I’m no life coach, and I know my examples here may be too simplistic, but even so I offer these two pieces of advice:

First, accept that quitting can be an honorable and desirable thing to do.  In some situations, it may even be the best thing to do.

Second, focus appropriately on what’s important, but expand your awareness to avoid the blind spots that over-focusing can cause.

Follow Todd & the team of writers at Wise & Shine for more stories. You can also visit Todd’s personal blog, Five O’Clock Shadow, or keep up with his music at

46 thoughts on “Bad Life Advice I’m Tired Of Hearing

  1. I so agree, Todd! Sometimes you have to cut your losses and move on. It’s not about failure. It’s about learning and taking your life in a better direction.

    As for the singular focus, that just smacks of privilege. I often find people who say that have stay-at-home partners, or the financial resources to free up time to focus on that one big thing. Definitely not an option for the masses!

  2. Definitely agree with you Todd. They probably had a purpose at one point in time, but their meaning has definitely been twisted and overused now. I compare it to Vince Lombardi’s quote about winning being the only thing. Yes, I get what it means and I know there are various versions of it, but we all know examples of where you may not win, but played with pride and honor and still overcame challenges. If you didn’t win, does that mean you’re less of a person? Ugh.

  3. Gosh…I love what Brian and Michelle just shared. YES to all of that and your post, overall, Todd. Good stuff — and I agree. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was from a friend who’s been successful in every area of his life. I expected him to say ‘stick with it’ when I shared a problem about a relationship and instead, he said “Quit her.”. Right there? Some of the best relationship wisdom EVER. Thanks for your post! 😉

  4. Such good advice to give up on bad advice. Both the points you make strike me as ways to be in touch with the whole of life – not to stay stuck on something that isn’t working and to participate in it all. Beautiful, Todd!

  5. Giving up after a valiant effort isn’t failure. It’s an opportunity to realize this doesn’t fit with your natural strengths. It’s time to wipe the slate clean and seek the joys of rediscovery.

  6. What’s the old saying, “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is a mark of insanity?” Sometimes to keep your sanity, you need to walk away.

  7. I actually had a deer dart in front of my car. And although I saw it as it did so, I couldn’t stop on a dime because the road was damp. But I saw the broad picture and was able to take my foot off the gas and tuck my head as it collided with my windshield, rolled over the roof and ran off into the woods. No singular focus here, except for survival.

    You have to be realistic. Great post.

  8. That first one is true, but hard! It can be terrifying to quit something that you know isn’t working and isn’t good for you – like, yeah, I may hate my job, but leaving won’t just magically solve everything, either. Figuring out the right way to quit can be so daunting, giving in to inertia and just dealing with it as long as possible feels like the easier way to handle it! I know that “the right thing” and “the easy thing” aren’t necessarily (or even often) the same, but with all of the work that must be done, using enough brainpower to figure out what the right thing is for you is sometimes more energy than a person has.

  9. This is why I quit my job, lol.
    I love that you brought this up, quitting is a natural thing to do, and focusing on just that is fine if you ask me, JK.
    I focus on so many things which gives me a distraction from annoying stuff in life. It’s a coping mechanism of sorts

    1. I love that multi focus helps you avoid fixating on the annoying- and I also love that you quit your job that wasn’t working for you. We were both teachers, right?

  10. I agree with you that Never Give Up isn’t necessarily good advice. I think as a society, we push this to the point of nausea and chastise those who do give up. As you stated, sometimes, quitting is the best thing to do.

  11. I couldn’t agree more about the concept of “never giving up” being overrated. While tenacity and perseverance are virtues, they don’t apply universally. As you rightly pointed out, there are situations, such as toxic relationships or self-destructive habits, where giving up may be not only advisable but essential for one’s well-being. Continuing to pour energy into an unfruitful endeavour can sometimes be more of a vice than a virtue. Thanks for sharing.

    1. These are such good points! We need to change these ideas to reflect that many people work extremely hard, yet still don’t have a dream fulfilled, or get the success they dreamed of. We need to be able to walk away, and not feel like a failure, for not all situations will work out for everyone. We need to give ourselves permission to look at our own situation and make our decisions based on what we understand at the time is best for us.

  12. Such important advice you are sharing.
    Listening to oneself and not to other people( Even if it is well meant) is the best favour we can do for ourselves.
    By the way, Todd, I always think people who have lived life fully and talk from experiences are the best coaches or advisers. Even if they do not have the title for it. If you see what I mean?

Leave a Reply