Good morning, Dear Reader! Today is Friday, and I found myself with zero obligations this weekend. In fact, at this very moment, there is not one single appointment or meeting on my calendar today. This means…yep…I’m working in my jammies. I haven’t done this since full-on COVID lockdown depression days, so it feels a bit awkward. I will, I’m sure, get up at some point and put on clothing. But, at the moment, it’s just you, me, my cat, my coffee, my keyboard…and pajamas.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the emphasis Americans put on ‘not quitting’. You’ve all heard some variations of the American rally cry:
1) Never quit.
2) It’s okay to fail, but not okay to quit.
3) Quitting is for sissies.
4) If you are tired, rest. Never quit.
I don’t know about you, but I’m calling ‘Bullshit’ today. As a tenacious woman who prides herself on her ability to look adversity in the face and laugh, I still think sometimes quitting is the only option. There are times in one’s life when the desire to quit is so strong, yet we fight the urge to do it. Why?
I recommend, in these times, that you run your impulse through a few pieces of criteria to determine if you need to simply take a wee bit of a break or definitely cut ties. Ready for them? Good.
Grab a drink. Settle in.
Here are a few tips from yours truly to help you decide if quitting may be your best option:
1) Your health is suffering. Headaches, stomach pains, hives, rashes, high blood pressure, ‘pooping problems’ like constipation or diarrhea all point to stress-related pressures. The body is excellent at telling you to slow down or move on. We are just really bad at listening to it.
2) You have no enthusiasm or are carrying the weight of obligation. You need to evaluate if you are doing something because you don’t want to disappoint someone. I, too, have a strong sense of obligation, and when I make a promise, I fully intend to keep it. But sometimes, you get into things that require a lot more of you than you expected, and that’s when it gets off kilter. Last year, I volunteered to be president of my son’s elementary school’s parent-teacher association. I had great ideas and felt fully ready to rally the troops. Except only about ten folks rallied. And at the end of the year, all eleven of us were exhausted and done. I haven’t volunteered for anything since. I need a break, Yo.
3) You realize (finally!) the path is full of obstacles. I know that some of you will go quickly to the old “Overcoming obstacles is a sign of grit”. I agree. I gots me sum grit. But sometimes, the Universe can clearly see that you are a stubborn person, and It steps in to create ‘opportunities’ to slow down, switch lanes, or find a different path altogether. If I had listened to friends sooner about some of my relationships, I would not have wasted as much time on some of those yay-hoos.
4) You hesitate because you don’t want to ‘waste’ efforts. Or money. Or time. You look at all you’ve put into something, and you think you should stick it out because of the investment. In the business world, we call this sunk cost. I have friends who built their 3000-square-foot dream home on a lake to have a place for their children and future grandchildren to enjoy. Except, the children moved to the west coast, and neither of them has (or wants!) children. So my friends sold that home eventually and paid cash for a quaint, newly built 1600-square-foot home in Arkansas, only about 30 minutes from that same lake. I stayed married for the ‘sake of my child’ longer than I probably should have. And guess what? My child is just fine post-divorce. Hint: Most of them are.
5) Your values no longer align with the original purpose. I once started an organization that provided free, healthy, and non-perishable meal packs to the food insecure population in my community. While I’m still an advocate for poverty alleviation and childhood hunger, I realized that just handing out a free meal was helpful but not impactful. The original purpose was to feed the hungry – and we did – but we didn’t help the hungry. When I realized I really wanted to make an impact, I ignored the sunk cost fallacy. Instead of pouring more resources into the organization to make it possible to shift gears, I simply closed up shop. It wasn’t easy to make this decision, but it was the right thing to do for everyone involved.
In summary (fancy, huh?), there’s a sharp difference between positive quitting and negative quitting. The critical difference: self-reflection. For example, I don’t recommend filing for divorce if you are just tired of a relationship. I do recommend filing for divorce if you’re in an emotionally or physically abusive marriage. I don’t recommend quitting a job if you are simply burned out. You can take some time off to recharge or ask for a reduction in responsibilities, which might do the trick. But, I do recommend quitting that job if your values no longer align with the company or if your boss is a demon from hell. I always encourage folks to look at the commitments they have that take time from those they love or get rid of clutter to live in peace. You may love that boat, but if you don’t have time to use it and maintain it, then maybe letting go and quitting the ‘lake life’ scene is the thing to do.
As I close today, I don’t profess to know it all. I have a high tolerance for bad behavior, and much of what I do is out of obligation. However, I’m getting better at saying “no” and letting go of things and responsibilities that no longer serve me. I encourage you to do the same.
So, what are you going to quit this month/year? Smoking? A job? Criticizing yourself and others? Complaining all the time? I’m curious and really want to know.
That said, let me leave you with a song this weekend. As Shinedown sings, “Sometimes goodbye is the second chance.” I don’t know about you, but that song gets all the feels from this side of the keyboard. Enjoy.
PS…If you like this post and thought others might, too, feel free to share it on all the socials. Please and thank you!