How to know when it’s time to quit (a job, or anything else)

time to quit

I have a decision to make, and it’s about quitting something.

What I’m about to share feels pretty vulnerable because it directly involves you. (As in, the person reading this as well as the large group of you who read what Kristen and I have to say on a weekly basis.)

Even as I write this, I haven’t 100% made the decision I need to make … so maybe by the end of writing this, I’ll know for sure what I want to do. Which is sort of cool because you’ll get to see me work my way through this.

But first, some background.

Did you know that I (Rachel) have been the one who writes most of the #ClarityGems? I came up with the idea about two years ago, and it became a part of my weekly “job.”

They’re fun to write, in part because they’re so different than a traditional blog. It’s all about getting straight to the point instead of meandering to one.

And people have loved them. We get feedback regularly about how our #ClarityGems made someone’s day or helped somebody see their situation in a new light.

And yet … I think I might be done with them. In their current form, at least.

I have so many mixed feelings about this. But I’ve been here before — feeling the desire to transition, to quit — and I recognize the signs. I can’t pretend they aren’t there.

I JUST FEEL … DIFFERENT

I was so gung-ho about #ClarityGems at the beginning, and for a long time thereafter I felt all in.

That’s the insidious nature of change, though … sometimes it happens sooo incrementally that you don’t notice that you feel different for a long time.

And then when you do notice, you start to second-guess yourself. Because it happened so gradually, it’s easy to start wondering:

“Did I always feel this way? Maybe I’m looking back in hindsight and seeing it wrong. Surely if this thing wasn’t right, it would feel more obvious.”

When it comes to writing #ClarityGems, I’m realizing I feel more neutral about it than I did two years ago.

I certainly don’t dislike writing them, but I don’t feel as “all in” as I used to. I can’t really explain why … that’s just how I feel.

What I do know to be true is this:

Feeling neutral about your life — and anything in it — is not the goal.

I want to feel “all in” most of the time, with as many things as possible.

So I could ignore the growing sense of “meh” that I feel about this … or I could see it for what I believe it is — a sign pointing me in the right direction.

A LOT OF THE TIME, IT’S NOT SUPER OBVIOUS THAT YOU NEED TO QUIT

I’ve had some very clear and obvious experiences that positively screamed, “You must quit right NOW!” Unhealthy relationships and terrible jobs tend to top that list.

But I think a lot of the time — maybe even most of the time — the necessity of quitting really is not that obvious.

Often, the fact that something is wrong for you (or no longer right for you) shows up as:

  • Feeling neutral, when you used to feel more excited
  • A lingering and hard-to-pinpoint sense of doubt
  • Feeling somewhat emotionally unattached to the subject (the relationship, the job, the “thing” … whatever it is)
  • Annoyance that you have to spend time on it, or a desire to be spending time doing something else instead
  • Relief when you give yourself permission to consider not doing it anymore

What tends to get us, myself included, every time is our tendency to think that this — feeling hazy, indifferent, neutral, or unclear — isn’t enough of a reason to let something go.

WE WANT SOMETHING MORE CONCRETE AND LOGICAL

We crave some sort of hard evidence that something isn’t right because, “I just don’t feel like it,” doesn’t satisfy our desire for certainty.

It’s normal to want to feel certain before you quit something. The unknown is scary, and trying to feel certain is our mind’s way of mitigating fear and risk.

Here are all of the things I’d like to be certain about, if I stop doing #ClarityGems:

  • That people won’t think we’re boring if we only send blogs out every week
  • That people won’t read our emails less, or stop reading altogether
  • That we won’t slide backward as a business, by cutting our weekly emails in half
  • That we won’t disappoint people who looked forward to #ClarityGems in their inbox each week
  • That it won’t generally prove to be a huge mistake that I end up regretting

But do you think I can be certain about any of that?

No, I can’t. Any or all of that could happen.

SO … IF YOU DON’T HATE IT, WHY NOT KEEP DOING IT?

A lot of people, myself formerly included, would probably say:

“If you don’t hate it, and it’s not that big of a deal, and you could avoid all of the potential consequences of quitting … why not just keep doing it?”

Because I believe the consequences of sticking with something that no longer feels great are FAR worse than the uncertainty of quitting.

We’re not meant to live our lives feeling bored, indifferent, or “meh.” To live that way for the purpose of avoiding fall-out, drama, or unexpected consequences isn’t really living.

If I’m going to actually live, I have to trust that doing what feels right — even when I can’t explain why it feels right — will inevitably be the better decision.

Because if I, or you, stay rooted in something that only feels so-so … then we don’t create space for all of the things we’ll feel all-in about. And I don’t want to miss out on those things.

I DON’T KNOW THAT I’M ACTUALLY DONE-DONE YET

Part of me wonders if it’s just the format of #ClarityGems that feels stale to me right now. Sending them out like clockwork doesn’t feel creative, inspired, or particularly freeing anymore.

So in a few weeks, I’m going to transition #ClarityGems to only social media posts. No more Thursday emails. (If you still want to get them, then make sure you’re following us on Facebook and Instagram.)

I’ll try that out for a while. If I love the new way of doing things, great. If it still doesn’t feel right … I’ll trust myself to know what to do, at that time.

Here’s the bottom line if you don’t know whether to quit something or not:

twitter-bird Your doubt is the sign you need to quit.

The longer you doubt something, the more sure you can be that it isn’t working. If you felt all in, you’d know … and there’d be no reason to doubt in the first place.

And besides, the best way to allow something new, exciting, and right to come into your life is to make space for it by letting go of something else.

So, what do you think? I hope you’ll stick with us as we transition … but in the end, I trust that the people who are meant to read our content will, regardless of how we evolve.

I’d love to hear what you think and what you might need to quit, in the comments.

TOO LONG, DIDN’T READ? LISTEN, INSTEAD!

If reading long blogs just isn’t your deal, you’re in luck:

We’ve started recording our blogs for you!

Here’s Rachel reading this week’s blog:

Much Love,

Rachel (+ Kristen)

32 Comments // ADD COMMENT

32 comments

  • Natalie

    Hi Rachel (+ Kristen)!

    Long time reader – first time commenter. Just want to throw out there that I absolutely love the Clarity Gems. They are subscription emails I genuinely take the time to read through, and more often than not (ask my roommate, she gets a weekly email about it) they somehow manage to align perfectly with something I’m going through at the time. “Julia!” I’ll e-exclaim. “Were we not JUST talking about this last night?! She puts it perfectly!”

    I completely respect the decision to move the posts to social media, and also appreciate the sentiment of the gem – it’s certainly an accomplishment to realize when it’s time for something to be finished, in some sense or another. I will definitely make a more concerted effort to seek the posts out on Instagram. Just know I am a dedicated fan of the #ClarityGem and would hate for them to go away all together. Thanks for all you guys are doing – it is very much appreciated.

    Best,
    Natalie

    • Rachel E.

      Thanks for the encouragement, Natalie! It’s definitely a bittersweet decision, and I so appreciate people taking the time to tell me that they’d missed Clarity Gems if they went away for good! Yes, definitely stay connected on Instagram. 🙂

  • Bob MORAZES

    Your right of track!
    Here is how you helped me:
    I had set my goal to retire in 2016, but didnt know exactly when.
    I do government contracting and its getting progressively non productive and stupid, but the pay is very good.
    I remember one of your posts taking about ‘knowing what you want to do with your life’ and if you dont know what it is then look at what you dont. This was brilliant, I looked at my current job and said, THIS IS NOT WHAT I WANT TO DO!.
    Within just a few days the task I was working on got so insanely ridiculous that the ” NOT THIS JOB” lights went on, I called my boss and told him I was retiring on June 3.
    So this is my last week and I have to thank you for your wisdom and help.
    Its encouraging that you actually listen to your own advice and know when things are not working. Good onya.
    Thanks, and I know you’ll find the right venue.. its in the stars.
    Bob

    • Rachel E.

      Wow, Bob! Thank you for sharing your story. It’s pretty amazing to know that we helped you pick a retirement date. Congratulations! I’m sure that all of the space you just created will soon be filled by something much better than your current situation. I’m glad you trusted that it’s BOUND to be replaced by something you’ll feel more “all in” about.

  • Dana

    So timely! Thank you.

    I have been pondering the past few weeks about quitting my job. It pays well, good benefits and a pension plan. And it doesn’t align with my values.

    I have been weighing the pros and cons all morning. Then boom. Your post. ‘Your doubt is a sign that you need to quit’

    This post is a confirmation that I need to quit. For my health, wellness, quality of life and joy.

    I have to find the strength and faith to know something else will fall into place. With monthly bills and a mortgage that’s a scary thought.

    Now onto research for what is next… Thanks again.

    • Rachel E.

      You’re welcome, Dana! It’s so easy to forget when we’re knee-deep in “pros and cons” to remember that if we’re doing that AT ALL — weighing the pros and cons and analyzing everything — that there’s very likely something off, to begin with. Really glad this gave you some clarity today! No pun intended. 😉

  • Leah

    I have mixed feelings about this. I agree to listen to that little voice as a guide and use it as a cue to make changes. Other times it’s just a change in attitude that makes all the difference. But doubts are normal and not everything is glamorous. Long-term relationships take work to keep fresh; same with jobs. Reinvention comes with growth – you’ll figure it out!

    • Rachel E.

      Hey Leah — I agree! I was thinking about that as I wrote this blog … that it’s not always black or white, quit or not quit. Often, what’s needed is more of a change of perspective or a fresh take on an old thing. But I figured I’d try to keep it simple today!

  • Jenn

    Wow.. This was exactly what I needed to hear today. I’ve been struggling so much with ‘quitting’ two aspects of my life recently. I’ve been questioning and second-guessing everything but this post reassured me that that I’m doing is right. Thank you!

  • Alaina Simpson

    Wow, definitely needed to read this. I have been at this point several times in the past. I have found that the reason to quit is sometimes obvious, and at other times, not so much. It is very true that continuing to do something even though we feel “meh” about it prevents other things that we feel “all in” about from happening. I have experienced letting something go and having a door to something better. It’s amazing. And I am at that point now. What makes it hard is when you’re stepping down from a responsibility that seems like you’re the only one that can fill it. It’s like you said, I’m trying to avoid unexpected consequences, but I can’t let that control me. Definitely learning how to focus on what I’m passionate about, where God leads me, and saying “no” to what doesn’t fit into what I’m being called to do. Thanks. 🙂

    • Rachel E.

      Hey Alaina — You know, I’ve found that when we stop assuming that we’re the ONLY ones who can fill our shoes, a LOT can change. When you leave something that feels “meh,” you make room for someone ELSE who might feel “all in” about the thing you feel “meh” about, and that’s pretty cool. 🙂

  • Azalea

    I think you know when it’s time to quit, your job for example, when you start reading and searching for articles to help you decide if you should quit. I knew when I saw this in my email this morning and clicked on it that I already knew my answer.

    • Rachel E.

      Yes, totally! When you start looking for outside validation — almost as if you’re already made the decision, but just want it confirmed — it’s definitely time to move on.

  • JT

    I couldn’t agree more with most of the comments and I felt a load lifted after reading your blog and comments. As much as it might hurt and feel uncomfortable, I know in my knower I made the right decision.

    • Rachel E.

      I’m really gad you feel lighter and more sure of your path now, JT. You’re right, it might not be easy, but having a sense of certainty that what you’re doing is right will make a HUGE difference. Best of luck!

  • Jessica

    I totally get this, if it’s not serving you- that’s a sign to make a change! I do think these gems are perfect for Instagram! I have really loved seeing those dreamy photos along side bits of wisdom – in fact that’s what captured my attention in the first place. But I’m sure as you evolve, the content will too!

    • Rachel E.

      Thank you, Jessica! And I think you know who we have to thank for those “dreamy” photos! 😉

  • kim

    I love moat everything you write. I will read no matter where they go.

  • Celeste

    I have mixed feelings about this post, as another commenter mentioned, because of the need for us to learn perseverance a bit more. I completely respect and appreciate your transparency, as well as the vulnerability it takes to be so open. In addition, I’d like for your readers to remember that life cannot be full of “all in” all the time. I’m on the very tail end of the Millennial generation, and as a therapist I’m completely astonished by the number of people my age or a tad younger who are utterly depressed that their work is not 100% fully engaging and true to their calling. Over the last 10-15 years I think we’ve overemphasized the “if you’re not living you’re dying” sentiment and this caused a generation of workers to feel that something’s off every time work doesn’t feel exactly like play. I believe this to be true because I’ve read the clinical research on it, and I’ve felt it myself. Again, I completely respect your opinions on the matter and appreciate your point of view. I would also encourage readers to not automatically take this post as a sign to make a hasty decision. Thanks for writing, and best of luck with your social media changes!

    • Rachel E.

      I completely agree with you, Celeste. In fact, one of the principles I coach people around, and that Kristen and I share in our courses, is the fact that you should not expect ANYTHING to fulfill you 100%. It’s sort of codependent to expect any one job, person, hobby, project, etc. to be the end-all-be-all of your fulfillment. And with anything, even something that’s right and good for you, there’s going to be a percentage of tedium, frustration, and lack of desire around certain aspects. And that’s totally normal, and doesn’t mean you should quit! Unfortunately, it wasn’t easy to say all of that in one blog! 🙂

  • Laurie

    I completely understand where you are coming from. Although I would seriously miss the Clarity Gems, I know there will be other ways that you’ll both be imparting similar types of thought provoking posts or messages but maybe in a different format. It takes a lot to stop something that you know others enjoy but when it feels like you yourself are ready to move on.

    • Rachel E.

      I really appreciate you sharing, Laurie! It feels good to be understood and supported by people in our audience. And honestly, I don’t see us getting rid of Clarity Gems entirely. I think we’d both miss them, as would many people who’ve spoken up and say so! But I’m excited to try them out in a new medium. 🙂

  • Sonya

    Hi Rachel! I truly enjoy the claritygems as well, and I understand the routine of it can dampen passion. Perhaps too, just making them ad-hoc could help? Sending whenever passion strikes, and not a moment sooner. 🙂 Thanks for all you’ve done.

    • Rachel E.

      I totally agree, Sonya! Sending them when inspiration strikes, instead of on a schedule, will definitely help boost my creativity.

  • Stacey

    I love reading your Clarity Gems in their existing format, I sometimes bookmark them for later if I want to re-read them. However, I totally understand about not doing something that has become “meh” to you. Have you asked why that’s the case? And what would make you more excited?

    • Rachel E.

      Hey Stacey — I’ve definitely done some deep thinking about why I feel the way I do. I think, for the most part, the medium and routine of it has gotten stale. There’s something about having to produce creative thoughts on a timetable that’s gotten old to me. I like the idea of freeing myself up from such a rigid structure and publishing them on a more “when I feel like it” basis!

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  • helenaljk

    I think the most important thing is that your blogs are inspired, not how often we get to read them. I applaud you for following your sign!
    I saved this blog in my email for a few days, thinking I’d read it at a time that was best for me. Just last night, I was trying to decide if I want to stay at my job. It’s new, so I hate to just drop it, despite the negative things that are turning me away and the pulling in another direction. This morning I cleaned out my emails and was glad I saved this to read.
    Thank you so much for your inspiration. I wish you the best!

  • Casey

    Here is my truth…

    I have been contemplating this for a long time and TBH this is my first time reading a #claritygem… So if this blog didn’t answer my question I don’t know what it is going to take for me to see I need to move on… weighing pros and cons just scared because I have a family to provide for…

    Social media is where it is at and i’ll see you there!

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