Tuesday, January 23, 2007

When to Quit

Last week at Faithlifts, I wrote about making A Fresh Start. Fresh starts are important. A new year and all of the ideas of ushering out the old and ringing in the new cause us what we're doing and why. Is there a grudge I've been nursing that needs to be released? Forgiveness that needs to be offered? A hopeless situation that I should look at from a new angle? At the close of the post, I asked: If God’s compassions never fail, if they are new each morning, then with whom or with what situation should we remain faithful? What needs a new beginning with a new resolve or dedication in your life?

That is worth thinking about. But how about the other side of the coin? How do you know when to quit?

Last week on the Apprentice, Michelle quit. Not surprisingly, the Donald thought it was a bad idea. Here is what he had to say:
Doesn't that make you a quitter? Doesn't that make you a loser? You are making a very big mistake. When you look back on our life, you will not be proud. When I speak, I tell people, "Never ever give up. Never quit. You can never be successful if you quit."
I would imagine that most of my blog readers make their decisions very differently from Donald Trump. Who we are is more important than what people think about us. Does quitting make you a loser by default? My boardroom speech, or the speech that I give when someone hires me to give advice would be a little different than his.
Sometimes it's okay to quit. Sometimes stepping down isn't forfeiting success--it's making the way for a new opportunity in which you can succeed. Giving in isn't the same as giving up.
What is it that gives you a lump in your stomach each time that you think about it or have to do it? Is it something from which you can resign? I'm not only including something you think that you could quit, but anything you are able to quit. For example: The thought of going to sleep at night fills you with dread, because you know that the baby who has decided not to sleep will inevitably destroy your sleep. You can't quit motherhood. Sorry. Unless there are extreme circumstances of abuse, I would put your marriage into the same category.

But there are some things that our internal voice keeps telling us, "You've always done this. It's who you are. You're good at it. It's perfect for you." If each time you drive to work (and even when you are at home) you worry about how disastrous your day will be, that is something you can quit. No matter that you are the sole breadwinner (you might want to find another job first), or that the job is "just perfect," because the salary is good, the hours are good, it's an easy commute. . . .Things can look good on paper, but still not be good. Katherine at Raising Five shared her own gut-wrenching decision here. She made some excellent points, so instead of repeating them, I will link to her thoughts on her Homeschooling Burnout.

I've been there. I've quit jobs, I've dropped classes, I've scaled back hobbies, I've restructured friendships. After I made the hard choice to quit, I have almost always felt that pit in my stomach melt away. I didn't feel like a loser. I felt as if I had won myself back.

Some signs that it might be time to quit (a relationship, a job, a ministry, a committee):
  • You worry about it--a LOT. While you are there, when you get home, and any time you know that you are going to be there.
  • While you are there, you are conflicted. You feel like you are doing things that you shouldn't be doing or it's causing you to react in ways that make you uncomfortable.
  • You have tried to change the situation to no avail.
  • You begin to feel as if there is no hope for change at all, and this hopelessness leaks into other areas of your life, leaving you feeling defeated in general.
So, I'll ask again, but a little bit differently: How is what you are doing affecting who you are? If it is not a positive affect, what in your life needs a new start or a clean break?


Connie said...

Boy did I need to read this. THANK YOU!

It's not my job, but a training program at my job. I think it might be time...

Dianne said...

Interesting that I should come home and read this tonight Jenn. Very applicable.

Lindsey @ Enjoythejourney said...

I was just in the bathtub contemplating something I need to quit, but I'm too scared to let people down.

And then I come here and read this.

Hmmmmmm. Maybe it IS time to quit and focus on home a bit more.

Jen Robinson said...

Clearly, your words are resonating with people. What an important post. Thanks for sharing it. I do know that feeling of relief when you let something go that you really shouldn't be doing...

lrlwreath said...

Thank you for writing this. I praised God we do serve a God of new beginnings!

Katrina said...

Wait - I can't quit motherhood? Oh, okay.... :)

Great post! I have quit my fair share of jobs, positions, and obligations. And nearly every time, it was because of that pit of dread and anxiety in the stomach, day after day after day. Or because I am trying to juggle too many balls and something's got to give. Being a bit of a perfectionist, I tend to beat myself up about quitting, but once I'm able to step back and really evaluate the situation, it most often turns out that it was the best thing I could have done.

e-Mom said...

You've made some excellent points, Jennifer. It's not always a bad thing to quit. Sometimes it's just a change of direction. Often, we commit to things without going to the Lord first... it's always good to reconsider where He's taking us, and where we've gotten off course. I agree that it's more important to please God than man.

Katherine@Raising Five said...

"Sometimes stepping down isn't forfeiting success--it's making the way for a new opportunity in which you can succeed."

Absolutely. Can I just have that tatooed on my forehead? This has been my experience in just about every "failure" of my life. And yet why is it still so hard to make the decision to - uh - change directions?

org junkie said...

Oh my gosh Jennifer, I so thought I'd commented on this post and then today I came by to read the other responses and realized I hadn't. I know I thought about it though :)
This goes so hand in hand with what I'm trying to say today in my post (although not very well mind you) but listening to that internal voice and gut instinct is so important. If something doesn't feel right or isn't working for you and causing you conflict and/or frustration, it is okay to make a change and DO something about it. We shouldn't feel guilty about being true to ourselves.
Great post!