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If you started following us in the last couple of years, you probably don’t know that we used to do this thing called #ClarityGems. They were pretty images with a quotable on them that people got in their inboxes once a week. Here’s an old one, just so you get the idea:
They were fun to write, in part because they were so different than a traditional blog. It was all about getting straight to the point instead of meandering to one. I liked to think of them as a Magic 8 Ball that people shook up once a week and got exactly the message they most needed.
And people loved them. We got feedback regularly about how our #ClarityGems made someone’s day or helped somebody see their situation in a new light.
And yet … I quit doing them a few years ago. Even though logically it should have been easy to keep doing it (it was a weekly image and a handful of paragraphs once a week; how hard could it have been?), I just couldn’t muster the energy for it anymore.
I had plenty of mixed feelings about calling it quits. But I’d been there before — feeling the desire to transition, to move on — and I recognized the signs. I couldn’t pretend they weren’t there.
So, in this week’s blog I’m walking you through how I made the decision to quit (when logically, I should have kept doing it), and how you can tell when it’s time for you to quit (not just your job, but anything else).
I JUST FELT … 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 came to writing #ClarityGems, I realized I felt more neutral about it than I did two years earlier, when I started.
I certainly didn’t dislike writing them, but I didn’t feel as “all in” as I had before. I can’t really explain why … that’s just how I felt.
What I do know to be true is this:
Feeling neutral about your life — and anything in it — is not the goal.
I wanted to feel “all in” most of the time, with as many things as possible.
So I could have ignored the growing sense of “meh” that I felt or I could see it for what I believe it was — 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 would have liked to be certain about, before I quit creating #ClarityGems:
- That people wouldn’t think we were boring if we only sent blogs out once per week
- That people wouldn’t read our emails less, or stop reading altogether
- That we wouldn’t slide backward as a business, by cutting our weekly emails in half
- That we wouldn’t disappoint people who looked forward to #ClarityGems in their inbox each week
- That it wouldn’t generally prove to be a huge mistake that I ended up regretting
But I couldn’t be certain about any of that. Any or all of that could have happened.
SO … IF YOU DON’T HATE IT, WHY NOT KEEP DOING IT?
A lot of people, myself formerly included, would probably have said:
“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 was going to actually live, I had to trust that doing what felt right — even when I couldn’t explain why it felt right — would 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 didn’t want to miss out on those things.
HERE’S THE BOTTOM LINE
If you don’t know whether to quit something or not:
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.
I will add one caveat to this, which is that if you feel your intuition is all gunked up — you believe you wouldn’t recognize the right decision even if it smacked you in the face — then doubt can sometimes be a sign that you first need to get good at recognizing how you feel, then take action.
Oh, and by the way, none of those things I was worried about happened. We didn’t backslide. People weren’t terribly disappointed. Our blog continued to be read. And in time, that creative space was filled by something I do feel “all in” about, which is our podcast.
So, what do you think? I’d love to hear what you might need to quit, in the comments.
Rachel (& Kristen)
PAST EPISODES ABOUT QUITTING
How to know if you should quit your job and work for yourself (April 2019)
Why you don’t need to feel guilty about quitting your job (April 2019)
Dear Krachel: I love my job but hate my team. Should I quit? (August 2018)
Dear Krachel: Should I follow my passion or is it too risky? (May 2018)
Submit your question for a future episode of Dear Krachel
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.
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. 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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. 😉
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!
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!
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!
I’m so glad to hear that, Jenn! Thank you for sharing.
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. 🙂
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. 🙂
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.
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.
Your comment was a bit of a lightbulb moment ‘when you start reading and searching for articles…’. Of course! You have pretty much made the decision, but not quite admitted it to yourself yet!
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.
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!
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!
Thank you, Jessica! And I think you know who we have to thank for those “dreamy” photos! 😉
I love moat everything you write. I will read no matter where they go.
That’s so good to hear, Kim! Thank you. 🙂
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!
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! 🙂
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.
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. 🙂
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.
I totally agree, Sonya! Sending them when inspiration strikes, instead of on a schedule, will definitely help boost my creativity.
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?
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!
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!
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!
Thank you so much for posting this. For almost 2 years now I’ve been considering studying abroad. I’ve applied and been accepted to some schools and even chose one I thought I wanted to go to. This decision has caused me so much stress and-I can’t believe I have to use this word-anguish. It has consumed my thoughts, my time, and kept me up at night. It’s so hard to admit to yourself that you don’t want something anymore- especially when that thing sounds really cool and exciting to other people and there’s this expectation that you’ll follow through. I’ve had to be honest with myself and come to terms with the fact that I actually don’t want to spend an entire year in a foreign country. It’s too much for me to handle and it’s not something that’s excites me anymore.
Permission to let it go, Reilly! It’s totally OK that you aren’t feeling it. You don’t have to even understand why, or justify it to anyone. You not feeling called to do it is more than enough of a reason! Kudos for listening to your gut!
F = Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin) of Hunger Games
I LOVE this blog post both in style, and substance! I’m a writer too, and both things can be quite the challenge to achieve simultaneously. Well done!
About 3 years ago I made a monitored switch from my psychiatric medications to cannabis. I was transparent with my doctors about this, and they were on board. (I’ve never responded very well to medications.)
For the past several years I have also been on an incredibly and increasingly spiritual path. As I have become greater friends with my mind and the voices inside of it, I find I am not in need so much for the relief that cannabis once brought me. I find I am ready to move on.
I have a great relationship with cannabis, and there are still some ways in which it helps me so I found myself in that neutral space you spoke of. I found myself in a space where I had doubt, neutrality, and sometimes a concrete reason for quitting that was rarely clear.
I just recently got the go-ahead from my functional medicine nutritionist that I am clear to quit using cannabis; see how it affects me. Until reading your article, I hadn’t realized that I was stopping myself from making (what could be) a very positive decision simply because I was living in the “what- ifs” of an outcome that hadn’t occurred yet.
As with quitting anything, there will be hurdles. They may not be quite as high as I had originally envisioned. There may not be quite as many of them. Even if there are, I know that something better will be on the other side of this quitting process. What you said really rings true for me, and I’ve had this experience: the more important and challenging it is to let go of something, the better and more fruitful the outcome will be. And even more awesome thing is waiting to fill that space on the other side of the let go process.
I’m so happy to hear that reading this helped give you more confidence around your decision to quit, thank you for sharing that story with us!