You know the scenario, you open your office door with your box of tchotchkes clasped tightly to your chest. You take the walk down the hall to HR, your much-prepared speech knocking at your lips ready to leap out. You knock on the door to Human Resources ready to explain the multifaceted and various reasons why this isn’t working for you anymore and instead of your calmly delivered and meticulously enumerated list you simply blurt out, “I quit!” This exclamation, punctuated by two shocked blinks, one from you and one from the head of HR, is followed by your mustered up the semblance of a smile. You pivot and walk out the front door, and as you sit down in your car, you marvel at this new cocktail of emotion an intoxicating mix of elation and complete and total panic. You did it. You really did it! You quit. Despite your strictly adhered to diet, this moment needs to be commemorated with a trip to any place that sells food out of a drive-thru and delivers the food in a paper sack. Your mind overflows with thoughts, you know you did the right thing, but it’s hard to feel good after walking away (especially if it’s your first time or you’re a type-A control freak who never likes to admit defeat).
You heard the adage more than once, “Winners never quit, quitters never win.” Your intention the day you started (or said I do, I will, I promise…whatever) was never to quit. However, somewhere along the way your regularly scheduled internal audit revealed that there were more deficits than returns. What you had justified as fatigue and exhaustion, sadness and frustration, or just plain unhappiness, in fact, turned out to be much more than that. That overwhelming feeling that kept you up late, with your head in your hands was your heart that most sacred authentic part of yourself screaming to you to be heard. The day job to support your passions had become an overwhelmingly suffocating albatross around your neck, sinking you deeper and deeper into the abyss of pure existence with no hope in sight of living a fulfilled life. Because of your commitment to finish what you started you silenced what you knew to be true, it was time to walk away. In making this decision, you grasp control of your life enough to pull to a screeching halt the collision course that is headed towards you with blaring warning signs. Even if you can find no other corroborating voice to support your decision, you just know that it was right for you to do.
The idea that winners never quit is so rife with inaccuracies it’s almost laughable. Not only do winners quit, but they also do so more often than those who stay stuck in the trenches trying to eek out a victory where none can be found. Winners work with a different methodology of quitting than we may be used to, quick and strategically. Winners know that the single most valuable asset is time. To waste this asset in an attempt to live up to a standard of what’s right, to please others or just plain ole’ fear is not only unprofitable, it may blind you to time-sensitive opportunities that are waiting for you to cut ties and turn your attentions to the future. It is understandable if you’ve invested dollars and more importantly, hope in building your fashion line, restaurant or brand that you fight to make it work but the truth is, hope is not a business strategy and when you have adequately tried various strategies to make it work, and it just isn’t then it may be time to reevaluate. I specifically used the word reevaluate because your dream should never be casually tossed aside but maybe the time has come to quit pursuing a brick and mortar restaurant and pursue a pop-up shop; maybe an entire fashion line is not where you should be focusing your dollars when you can start with a really stellar sock line that sets up the foundation for success.
Most importantly, winners in business and life understand that the single biggest indication that it may be time to look at a new path forward is the passion barometer. If you have no passion for your business, your work, your brand whatever then you must recognize that without this all important fuel no matter what you wish to happen it simply cannot thrive. Your passion will always be connected to your path; it is the guide that pulls you (sometimes unwillingly) forward. Also, just when you’ve lost the passion for something it becomes harder to think tactically about where and how you should navigate next. This internal thermometer if listened to and cultivated will become the truest litmus test for when to stick it out and when to walk away. Some things to remember as you make the decision to quit:
- Minimize the damage: Just because you’re done with your company doesn’t mean that you can throw your hands in the air and give no thought to those whose livelihoods are connected to your work, especially if you are a boss or business leader. This is, even more, important when it comes to your relationships, the burden of responsibility that comes with marriage and personal relationships is not absolved simply because you don’t feel like doing it anymore. The decision to quit anything should be made with a clear head and not in anger or pride.
- Try till You Can’t Try Anymore: It’s amazing how many times people will walk away from something without exhausting every possibility for success. To quit with minimal regret and no collateral damage is to ensure that you have done everything in your power to prevent walking away. Can you, with a truthful heart, say that you did everything you know to do. If the answer is no, try, try and try some more. Regrets can be haunting and if you can prevent it, try.
- Clean Like a Band-aid: When you’ve decided, then make your move and don’t waffle. A clumsy exit or severing does more damage than a slow decision to leave. Trying to hang on for dear life with one hand and grasp the lifeline out with the other creates a chaos that can be painful for those who remain. Be decisive and once you decide to go, just go.