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When to say “When”

Angie Morgan, February 29, 2016

When to say "When"

“My mom didn’t raise a quitter” was my mantra. I’d repeat that phrase whenever I felt like enough was enough, or when things got difficult and I wanted to bail.

Quitting, at least the idea of quitting, was never an option. In my mind, quitting was a bad habit. If you quit a sport, or an extracurricular activity, you’d start to quit others. Pretty soon you’d be quitting too soon – never honoring your commitments or coming close to realizing your potential. Plus, I’d think, quitting denies you the growth you gain from perseverance.

But my ideas around quitting have evolved and it’s fair to say I’ve quit many things throughout my life. Like the Marine Corps, the career I started post-active duty, business initiatives that didn’t yield results, and relationships that were downright toxic.

As leaders, there are times when we just have to move on – when making the decision to end something is the best thing to do.

It’s important to know, though, when that time is. Here are some clues on when it’s time for you to say “when”:

  1. When you’ve given it your all (for an appropriate period of time). If you’ve really done your best and have squeezed every ounce of value from the experience, and it’s still not satisfying/fulfilling/delivering the results you wanted it to, it’s okay to stop.
  2. When what you’re doing no longer connects to your values. Our values evolve in our lives – what we were doing in our 20’s sometimes doesn’t gel with what we need to be doing in our 30’s or 40’s. It’s important to recognize and appreciate how you’ve changed and make adjustments accordingly.
  3. When you’ve plateaued and can no longer add value. There are certain situations where our presence (or persistence) no longer has the value it used to – there might even be situations where your efforts have a diminishing return. It’s always best for us to realize this before others do. Besides, who doesn’t want to end on a high note?
  4. When it’s no longer healthy to stay. The reality is there are people, cultures, and organizations that just aren’t beneficial for you – they hold you down, make you question your worth, or don’t encourage you to grow.

Quitting isn’t easy to do – it can be hard to let go of things that either your identity is wrapped up in or that you’ve poured so much effort into.

Yet, as you direct your life, it’s important to have perspective: By saying “no” to one thing, you’re opening yourself up for new opportunities.

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