iQuit: Learning when to STOP and when to move on
“[I had the] realization that though I was ready to quit, I didn’t know how. I’d never practiced quitting. I didn’t know the right path out of the room, the right facial expression, the right way to give up.” – Martha Beck
Yesterday, I strolled through the subway tunnel I’ve passed through 100s of times. The tunnel is connected to the building that housed my first real place of employment. While walking, I felt someone on my heels, so I turned to look back. A woman around my age was trying to get around me–so I slowed down and let her pass. I wasn’t in any rush.
I noticed that she looked just like how I used to look when I trailed that tunnel on a daily. Surely, she looked like a Carmen-Clone, circa 2004—dressed in a small, lilac pea coat, flat dress shoes, gray trousers and a too-big laptop bag.
I watched Miss Purple Pea Coat retreat hastily up the tunnel. But, I slowed down to chuckle to myself. I thought, “darn, that used to be me.” Scurrying off to no-where [really] in particular to do work that was of no real importance to me.
As I continued to watch her speed off, a thought distracted me. I wondered,“if I could talk to that 2004 self, who looked like Miss Purple Pea Coat, what would I have told her.”
“Hmm,” I thought. ”That’s easy. I would’ve told myself ‘learn to quit.’ And learn to quit with finality.”
I do wis that I had mastered the art of quitting seven years ago. If so, I would’ve quit quite a few things, sooner, in the ensuing years:
Relationships–when the effort wasn’t reciprocal
Jobs and bad bosses–when the place was toxic and the environment miserable
Friends–when unrealistic expectations out weighed the friendship’s intrinsic value
Other commitments–when they diminished, rather than replenished [even THE good commitments]
Quitting versus Re-Evaluation
Unfortunately, I have a bad habit of not ‘upping and leaving things.’ I stay and marinate waayyyy past expiration dates. I’ll try to make rocky situations work, if I care enough. All to my detriment.
That’s the part of my self that I’m un-learning how to be.
That’s the part of my self that’s learning the difference between quitting [moving on if something doesn’t work, feels bad, isn’t reciprocal or only diminishes] versus re-tooling & re-evaluation [which entails working out and through temporary conflicts and rough patches. Because, let’s face it there will be tons of conflicts and rocky roads].
In the end, I would tell my 2004 self, just like I’m telling my 2011 self–quit things sooner, quit things faster, quit things righter, and quit even when the quitting appears to be illogical–if it’s not going to work in the long run.
Of course, my mentor in my head, Martha Beck had something to say on Quitting: http://www.oprah.com/omagazine/Know-When-to-Quit-Martha-Beck-on-Giving-Up
On the flip, Life Hacker had an article on the Pros/Cons of Finishing http://lifehacker.com/5740079/the-pros-and-cons-of-finishing