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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)