You’ve been exposed to these adages your whole life. You’ve heard it growing up, in school, in university, even in sport. “Quitting is for losers”, “Winners never quit and quitters never win”, “Mama didn’t raise no quitter”. Basically, we’ve been conditioned to never give up …. even if it kills you.
In a world where we are constantly competing, for better, for more, for survival, you fall to the back of the pack when you give up. So we never quit; we push ourselves harder, we strive for better and we never give up. This is great, because if we didn’t, we would all be redundant, fossilising composites adding to the carbon decay destroying the planet. Basically, what would be our point if we weren’t trying to be better, to change and to strive for greater? However, when is it ok not to; when is it ok to quit?
Last year was a transformational and learned year, as my last post says. And boy were they not kidding when they said 2019 was going to bring about change. It’s been a rollercoaster ride with so many twists and turns. The beginning of this year I had begun the second portion of my Master’s degree in Positive Psychology. I was also entering 5 years of employment at my last company. By July, 6 months later, I would of made 2 difficult decisions, to quit both.
In January this year we had decided to relocate to a new country. This however had no impact on my decisions to quit, it was merely a new life opportunity. The decision to leave work was actually made in December of last year, I was just waiting on the when to. Last year was a physically and emotionally draining year. I had dedicated a lot of time and effort to both my studies and my work. I had pushed myself, and by the end of 2019 I was proud of what I was capable of. So then why would I walk away a few months later, when I had sacrificed and endured so much? Simply put, I just Marie Kondo’d it. I embraced the words of Marie Kondo, “Does it spark joy?”. And no, neither sparked joy in my life any longer.
As much as I loved the company (admittedly less the longer I stayed and the more I witnessed) and had made many friends there, I was just mostly comfortable and was going nowhere. I had put in a lot of effort, but let’s be fair, there are politics in every company and I would most likely find myself in the same role another 5 years later should I have stayed. No one in this economic climate just walks out of a job, so I obviously had to weigh my options and do some calculations before I could actually leave, once I had made up my mind to. I was still worried about leaving before I had anything to fall back on, but a few days after resigning I got a job offer!
I had already completed half of my studies and in September 2018 had begun the second portion of the degree. Knowing in January that I was going to relocate, I started to push out as much of the dissertation that I could. Despite all the time I had to dedicate to moving and so on, I still tried to contribute as much as I could to my studies. I was about 60% done with my dissertation when I actually decided to deregister. Why? I was literally not finding joy in it. I guess there were too many odds against me.
Feedback from the university was slow and support was lacking. I had become a detective figuring out what was required and having to piece the requirements together. Then, we found out that my supervisor, the expert on the method I was to use for my study, had been diagnosed with cancer again. He was very supportive and was still willing to supervise but the challenges still persisted. I also no longer believed in subject of my study (ironically the company I was working at). I could of still used them as the focus but at the core, I no longer believed in the truth of the data and I felt this was not ethical. The studies had gone from adding growth to tearing me down. There was no joy in it – none!
When I started studying I told myself that I was doing it for me and that I could quit at anytime. But this wasn’t true. I had obtained my first Master’s degree 10 years ago at just under 25 years and with everyone else obtaining MBAs I felt I was falling to the wayside. However, I wasn’t in a top earning corporate job like most of my friends, so what should this matter? The one thing I did have that I prided myself on, was my education. Even though studying was not easy, it was the one thing that I could control, the one thing I could grow in. How could I quit it? I was never able to build the career I wanted, why would I walk away from the one thing I could build, the thing that would set me apart. The answer was that I changed. I no longer cared about ‘what the people would think’ and I actually didn’t care if others thought ‘I had failed’. I had actually become better.
Will I regret leaving my Master’s degree? Hell yeah, I was 70% done with the overall degree!! I’ll probably wonder why I didn’t stick it through, persevere a little more. Maybe I’ll revisit and complete it one day. But right now, it’s not the best thing for me. It just doesn’t spark joy.
And so, if you are pushing yourself to complete something for someone else or if you are enduring something for the wrong reasons, ask yourself why?. Evaluate your circumstances and weigh your options. Do what’s best for you. However, don’t always cop out. Don’t walk away from things that you are actually capable of accomplishing, because truth be told, nothing comes easy. When you are doing things for the wrong reasons or it brings you more anguish than joy, then yes, think about what’s best for you. Circumstantially, pain is not always gain.