How do you know when it’s time to quit? Quit what, you ask. Quit anything…a job, a relationship, a volunteer activity. A man I once dated used to say, “You quit when it stops being fun.” Just so you all know how that relationship went, it stopped being fun for ME before it stopped being fun for him!
While the “fun” factor may have worked for him, it doesn’t work in all circumstances or for all persons. Anyone who has ever been married knows that situations arise that might not be classified as fun to one or both partners, but that doesn’t mean you split the sheets. Gosh, if that were true, nobody would stay married, and I’m fortunate to know people who have honored their vows through thick and thin, the fun and not-so-fun, and lived to celebrate their Golden Anniversaries.
Now quitting a job is a whole other ball of wax. During my working lifetime, the environment changed a lot. When I started my first job in 1965, employees actually got to take their two-week vacations! What’s more, employers had adequate staff to do the work in their absence. An employee didn’t return feeling like they needed a vacation from their vacation.
But when I reentered the workforce after my stay-athome mom days, things had changed for the worse, in my opinion. I seemed to spend more of my day at work than at home, and more often than I care to remember, it was under the leadership of someone for whom crisis management was a way of life. That is definitely a fun killer. As an old school employee who stayed for 5, 10 or 15 years with one employer, I had to find some kind of upside or reward to make it work for me. If one couldn’t be found, then I knew it was time to quit and move on.
Nowadays I’m not grappling with whether or not to stay with a job. It’s more about which volunteer activities to continue or discontinue. If “no” isn’t in your vocabulary and you’ve gotten on the volunteer treadmill, you know that can be as demanding as a fulltime job. When contemplating giving up a volunteer activity, it’s imperative to understand the activity’s purpose and the satisfaction it brings to your life because there is no financial reward.
While researching the whole idea of quitting, I came across “Mastering the Art of Quitting,” with its list of “common biases of thought” that keep us planted where we’re not sure we want to be. The first is focusing on what time and energy we’ve already invested rather than imagining how our future could be.
Next are those “positive cues,” also known as intermittent reinforcement. That is, just enough of a pat on the back to make you think that things will get better.
Third, the closer we come to failing at an endeavor, the more valuable attaining it becomes, i.e., that dangling carrot just out of reach. Last is the fear of making a mistake and taking risks.
The author recommended that regardless of what you’re dealing with, don’t wait until you explode and burn your bridges and do motivate yourself by understanding that it’s not just the end of something but the beginning of something else. Do be realistic and do understand there will be a period of transition in your new circumstances.
Unfortunately, I found a lot of quotes on the internet that browbeat the confused and tortured into thinking that quitting is a sign of weakness and something to be ashamed of. Yes, we should give everything our best effort, but sometimes it’s healthier to change course.
So, in the spirit of change, I created my own newly minted quote on the subject of quitting…”Changing the direction of your life is not quitting – it’s a show of courage!”
Connie Clements is a freelance reporter for the Navasota Examiner and award-winning columnist. She writes feature news articles on a weekly basis and an opinion column as the mood strikes her.