At some point in our lives, each of us will be faced with the decision of whether to quit something. Regardless of what you're trying to quit - a job, a relationship, a project, or an educational program to name a few – the Harsh Inner Critic has a response ready for you.
“You are such a quitter. All you ever do is quit. If you would just try
harder and work harder things will be better. It is not that bad, you just
need to change.” - The Harsh Inner Critic
How do you sort through these messages and get to the truth of whether to stay or leave?
Tommy dreamed of going to law school all his adult life. When a local law school started a new program for adult learners with full-time jobs, he decided it was just the opportunity he wanted. He applied and was accepted to the program.
The first year went well enough. It was hard and he did not make the grades he wanted, however, he felt good about what was happening. He enjoyed studying law, loved learning and felt a great sense of accomplishment. He was exhausted, and incurring a huge debt, but decided it was worth it.
During the second year, things began to shift. His family situation changed and he had to take on extra duties. At the same time, the coursework unexpectedly increased and his job became more demanding. He was beginning to drown in a sea of work, stress and family commitments. What was he going to do and how was he going to make that decision?
There is no easy way to make a decision that is this important and emotionally charged. If a situation is entirely negative, the decision is simple; however most decisions of this magnitude have positive aspects as well. There are times when to stay is more detrimental than leaving, even if leaving means letting go of a dream.
Being emotionally involved makes it hard to make an objective decision. There are some signs post along the way that will point you in the right direction.
4 Questions to Help You See What the Signs Are Telling You:
1. Are you spending so much time in the current situation that all else in your life is being neglected?
Are your relationships suffering? Are you neglecting your health? Do your moods swing drastically? Are you skipping sleep simply to maintain your current responsibilities?
2. Are you staying for the wrong reasons?
Is fear causing you to stay? Are you afraid of making a mistake, disappointing someone, or hurting someone’s feelings? Are you afraid your family and friends will think you are a quitter? Are you afraid that you must stay because you made a commitment, and are therefore responsible? Are you afraid to admit you made a mistake or a bad choice? Are you afraid of starting over?
3. Is there more frustration, anger, hurt and fear, than reward and satisfaction?
In any job or situation there will be hard work, difficulty, rough times and dissatisfaction. There also needs to be a balance. There needs to be more satisfaction than distress. If you are experiencing a long period of overwhelming negativity, it is time for a change.
4. Can you see any positive resolution or solution to the situation?
Have you spent time, energy and resources to change yourself and the situation and it has not improved? Have others made promises to change and are not making an effort? In any situation there are many elements, some of these things you can change and some you cannot.
Do you think you can make a better life for yourself if you quit?
When you are deciding to stay or to go, it is important to not think about it as “quitting”.
In our society, “quitting” carries a negative connotation. Instead, think about making a decision in terms of “quality of life”. Ask yourself, what outcome is in your best interest? What decision will help you grow and have a healthier, happier life?
The decisions you make are not about neglecting the people in your life, this is about being the best you can be, so that you have more to give to others. If you make your decision with care, concern and with a lot of help, you will benefit from your experience. You will not be throwing away the time you invested in yourself, the situation, the relationship or others, you will be using your experience to grow.
What Tommy Decided
Tommy decided to leave law school. It took him a full semester to make his decision. He was chronically tired and struggling to do what was necessary to keep his life running. His quality of life was compromised.
In light of his family situation, he felt that his time was better spent with his family than studying. His mother was aging and needed him. He loved his mother and liked spending time with her and helping her. That was much more rewarding to him than school. He valued and enjoyed his job and he had friends he missed and activities he loved doing.
As he examined the benefits of a law degree, he decided that it would not benefit him as much as he expected. He had gained the knowledge he needed.
Was it worth it?
In the end the cost outweighed the reward. Was he glad he started law school, even though he did not finish? Absolutely. It took going to law school to discover that it was not what he wanted. Yes, it had been a long-term dream, but when tested in reality it was not the right fit. Sometimes you have to start something to discover you do not want it or need it.
The decision to walk away from a situation is the first step toward change, not the last step. There are ways to prepare yourself for what comes next. Next week, I will talk about what you need to do before you quit.