Recently, I quit a professional group that I had been a part of for several years. In this professional group, I had built intimate relationships with fellow members. The perceived social pressure to continue with this group can be significant. I dreaded the decision. What would my group mates think about me quitting? I was concerned about how the conversation would go. I avoided the decision for several months even though I knew it was the right thing to do given my availability. Finally, I quit. It turns out nobody gave it a second thought except for me. Their lack of shock doesn’t mean they don’t care that I won’t be with them but I had built it up in my head as though it would. It is truly a microcosm of life itself. We think everyone is watching us. We think that our decisions to serve our own lives will get extra scrutiny. The truth is, nobody cares but us. No one has invested in your decisions except for you. It is not as though they don’t care, but their concerns are not our concerns. I realize this is not always the case because at times, other people are impacted by our decisions to quit. However, if we look at the social decisions we make, the vast majority of them have little to no impact on others. We live in our head and only think our thoughts and most of us project those thoughts onto others. They must think just as highly of me as I do and therefore will be devastated by my decision to quit. The reality is, they haven’t been thinking of you at all because they are too busy thinking of themselves.
How do I know when to quit? There is something I do on a regular basis and here is how:
Step 1: List your commitments (outside of your immediate family)
|Commitment||Weekly Time Required||End Date|
|Little league baseball coach||12||10/1/18|
|Hobby – home brewing||1||Ongoing|
|Season tickets (seasonal) Clemson||4||11/1/18|
Step 2: Which of these commitments are not serving your greater purpose? Here is what I will do: I will write a few sentences defending why I should continue and then write a few sentences why I should quit. The most compelling argument wins. This approach might seem like a shallow, self-absorbed approach, but in reality, our time is limited, so investing our time wisely should be a priority for us. Don’t allow guilt to keep you trapped in a situation that is not serving your greater purpose. Society will guilt you into it, and I am asking you to be brave and pivot if it is not working.
Step 3: Plan your exit. We should always honor our commitments, and I would never advocate the contrary. It is important that our commitments align with our mission and vision of the future. When you determine it is appropriate to de-commit, evaluate the circumstances and if necessary, develop a strategy that maintains your integrity and ideally leaves the situation in a better condition as a result.
Step 4: Don’t over commit. Sometimes we declutter and then proceed to fill our calendar back up. This is counterproductive, assuming your goal is to focus more on your vital priorities.
Society would have us believe that quitting is disgraceful. I give you permission to quit. If you are overloaded and feeling overwhelmed, you owe it to yourself, your family, and others that you have committed to assess, prioritize, and quit. Don’t let the pressure of others keep you from making a necessary change.