How do you know when to call it quits?

Deutsch: Badeofen English: hot-water heater Fr...

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The word “quit” did not enter my vocabulary until I was in my late twenties or so. Until then, I was even more headstrong than I am now and believed that I could muscle through even the impossible. Gradually I learned that I still need to give it my all, but sometimes I need to head in a different direction if things aren’t working out.

When we built our home 11 years ago, we wanted to be as energy conscious and cost-effective as possible, so we had two tankless water heaters installed. It was quite unheard of in our neck of the woods at the time, so we relied on the Internet for our research. We chose one of the top rated units. Installed, they cost nearly $1000 each. That’s a lot of money today, so it was definitely a lot of money back then.

The first time we tried the hot water was in the summer. The ground water was already warm, so the heating elements in the tankless unit didn’t have a lot of work to do to heat up the water. All was well. But after a few months, we noticed that the lights in the house would flicker and blink when we ran the hot water. We called the manufacturer to ask if this was normal. Yes, they said. Lights often blink. Everything is OK if you’re getting hot water. Not wanting to be duped by a company that perhaps didn’t want to pay for repairs under the warranty, we consulted an electrician who was not part of the original install. He told us that electric tankless units use quite a bit of juice to run, so it’s not uncommon to have the blinking lights. Great.

Over the years, we learned to live with our dislikes. After all, we’d spent lots o’ money to install it. We couldn’t just replace it with something else that worked better. We learned to live with:

*the loud noise it would make when the hot water was turned on

*turning off the A/C or furnace when the hot water was on so those units wouldn’t override

*not running the hot water while the TV was on so it wouldn’t flicker

*the heating elements giving out once or twice a year (replacements were $30 each plus shipping)

*having to haul up buckets of hot water for hot showers while when the elements went out sooner than expected and replacements were not yet on hand

The last straw came a few weeks ago. During a cold snap, the tankless unit for the showers failed. Again. We tried the replacement elements we had on hand. No go. We paid to rush ship a replacement panel. Still nothing. Five days of Little House on the Prairie showers in the middle of winter put things into perspective for us. We decided to have the tankless units removed and replaced with a traditional water heater. We’ve been enjoying hot showers for almost three weeks now. No loud noises. No blinking lights. No running around to turn off other electrical appliances when we needed to run the dishwasher or shower. This is heaven!

We’re normally pretty good about cutting loose a task or object or relationship that is bothering us. If we’ve tried our very hardest to make the best of a situation but it doesn’t work out, we’ve learned to walk away from it and move on. So why the heck did we wait so long to change in this case? Was it because of the money we’d initially sunk into it? Or the expense we’d incur for making the change? Did we not want to make time for the work to be done? Or did we not want to give up on being environmentally friendly? Or was it good ol’ fashioned stubbornness?

It’s probably a little bit of all of the above. And it was a good reminder to go back to what works for us – research as much as possible to make the best decision, try our best to make it work, evaluate the pros and cons, and do what will make us happiest. Life is too short to settle for something that makes us unhappy.

What do you need to evaluate – and possibly quit?

About Helene Segura

Helene Segura teaches go-getters how to use their time more efficiently in order to have a more peaceful life. For details about her, be sure to visit

  • PM Hut
    Posted at 08:34h, 27 December

    Hi Helene,

    Your post reminds me of a post on project management we have published a while ago, when do you kill a project.

    In fact, in everything in life you should probably quit when the ROI does not longer meet your expectations, and you’re expecting to have a higher ROI for a considerable period of time with another endeavor… At least that’s my point of view…

    • LivingOrderSA
      Posted at 10:01h, 28 December

      I agree…but for some reason it’s a lot tougher for people to calculate ROI on personal endeavors vs business. Happy 2012!

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