Should I Quit?

Have you ever asked yourself, if what you’re doing is the right thing and if you should just quit?

This month’s theme is Persistence, but what about when it’s time for you to quit? How do you know if you should stop persisting towards a goal? Have you found yourself knocking on a career door and never getting it to open?

I have had that happened to me, more than once.  Most recently was when I began my PhD program at Texas State University, I super was excited and thought it would help me get my foot in the door,  my chance to get in the academic world.  That I would finally be able to get into higher education and eventually get my dream job, President of a Community College or University.

I spent two years of my life, applying to numerous jobs in higher education jobs, getting interviews and getting nowhere.  I diligently applied and applied, since that’s what I kept hearing to do.  Keep applying, keep applying, eventually you’ll get in. Don’t give up, your time will come.

Here’s the thing, I felt like I had limited options on where to apply. With a Master’s degree in Counseling & Guidance, and working in Behavioral Health for a community agency, I felt like I didn’t have the right experience for most jobs in higher education.  There are many things, I could have done differently.  One thing I didn’t do, was ask for help, I was too embarrassed to ask anyone how to “get in.”  I just figured my hard work would show for itself and that my interviewing skills would get me in.  

And of course, my hard work and interviewing skills did not get mein.”  And after two whole years of nothing, I felt so deflated and felt like a total failure. Again, not once did I ask for any help on how to get in, how to get my foot in the door.  There are interviews that I look back at, and can see, where I totally sucked.  Other interviews, where I just felt like I was going to get the job, only to get that infamous rejection email, a few days later.  I never really got much of an explanation of what I was doing wrong, and never did I dared to ask.  I thought, I could just figure it out, like everything else in my life.

During these two years, I was working for a community agency providing Behavioral Health services to low income clients.  I had been there five years going on six, and while I had gained valued experienced in various roles.  I was also not moving up, as I would hope.  Again, I thought my hard work would show for itself.  But that’s just it, again, I never asked anyone in leadership, how to prepare for the role.  I just assumed it was through hard work, but that’s not true.  I know my parents work hard and still do, I don’t see them moving up to leadership.

These are two examples, where I realized, after way longer than I should have, that it was time to quit.  Time to quit applying to higher ed jobs and time to quit waiting to get promoted.  There are times when you should be persistent and there are times when that persistence just turns into being stubborn; into thinking what you’re doing is going to eventually work.  Like Albert Einstein has said “Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.” 

Is there a secret formula to this all? No.  So, then how do you know, when it’s time to quit?  When do you decide that what you’re doing is just not working? When it is time to switch jobs or look at other career opportunities? There is no right time as to when, but there is a why and what it looks like.

The why to quit starts with a self reflection on the what.  Is what you’re doing have a purpose anymore?  Is your heart in it?   A lot of times, we get sucked into the mundane, the everyday hustle and bustle of life that we even forget to question why we continue to do something.  Is it because you feel safe? Is it because it is easier than thinking? Or is it because you don’t know or think that things can be different? Only you know the answers to these questions and only you can decide if it is something you want to keep doing or not.

We don’t start a job or career completely unenthused (and if you did, yeah that job was it totally not for you), think back to your first day, when you started.  You probably were bright and shiny, like you’re first day of school.  You woke up early and could hardly sleep the night before, you were prepped, and were ready to get out the door.  Now fast forward weeks, months, or even years later and you can’t even remember  what that first day felt like day anymore.  How excited you felt about it.  You can’t even never remember why you took the job in the first place.

So what happened?  Life happened. You got married, had kids, you got busy with their lives, and everything else… you were just trying to survive it all.  And now you are tired, you don’t like your job anymore, and everywhere you keep applying doesn’t lead you anywhere. You just feel like nothing is working, worse of all that leadership job you were a shoe in for, that everyone said you would get, went to the new girl who’s only been with the company for 6 months.  Yeah you can see how awesome she is, but what was better about her versus you?  What made her so special?

The reason some are chosen versus others is simple.  Their light, it is still shining bright.  Bright, like the first day of work, first day of school, and first date, those types of days and people who continue to shine bright like it was the first time will always get ahead.

So, what can you do now? You can’t go back and change it all.  Well you don’t have to go back in time to change your future, you just need to change now.  Change now so you can have a better future.  It all starts with your mindset.  If you go back to my first two examples, my biggest problem was believing that I did not have the right experience to get into higher education or that my hard work would get me to move up in leadership. My beliefs were not just limiting my opportunities but they were also limiting how I was showing up.  How I was showing up at interviews and how I was showing up to my work.

What then, can you do to start changing your mindset?  Here are some times on what you can do now to get yourself started in the right direction:

  • Reflect on your limiting beliefs
  • Reflect on your why (the purpose behind it all)
  • Reflect on your long term goals (the what behind what your doing)
  • Be honest in your reflection
  • Reflect on your limiting beliefs. Is what you’re telling yourself stopping you from getting anywhere?  Remember, what you tell yourself, is what will show up in your life and not just externally.  Internally too, what you believe in, will show both in your actions and body language.  Write down your limiting beliefs (like my thoughts that I didn’t have the right experience) and change it.   Take two of those beliefs and begin to change them this week.
  • Reflect on your why (the purpose behind it all). Ask yourself, what is your why? Why are you doing what you’re doing? And this is not doing something for your family or whoever else, thinks what is right for you.  Is what you are currently doing, fulfilling you why? This is what is in your heart, what is your passion, why does this move you?
  • Reflect on your long term goals (the what behind what your doing).  Ask yourself what is your goal, is what you’re doing helping you get closer to your bigger picture goals? Are you doing something because it just seems like the next step to do? Is what you are currently doing getting you where you want to be, in a year, 5-years or even 10? If not, then ask yourself what can you change now, tomorrow, or over the next year, to get yourself back on track?
  • Be honest in your reflection.  Truly be honest with yourself.  Allow yourself, to let go of everyone’s expectations and truly ask yourself what is it that you want to do.  This is your time to ask yourself, what do I really want?  And what am I going to do about it.

What two reflections do you like best?  Which two will you work on today?

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