Two weeks into a new job, I realized I had bit off more than I could chew. I was working late every night, I was stressing about meeting deadlines, and I was generally feeling stressed and unhappy. What was I to do? My gut and intuition were telling me to quit, particularly before I became more invested in the company, colleagues, and projects, after which it would be harder to make a clean break.
I encountered a similar experience one year ago while working for a client that required jugging schedules, relying upon others to complete their work, and partnering with colleagues who did not respect my personal time — all factors I find particularly difficult to deal with. Despite my misery, I continued working on the project, ignoring my intuition and the multiple signs chauffeuring me away from the job, as well as the very real problems of my constant headaches, tense muscles, and restless sleep. If I continued on with this new job, I risked failing to benefit from the hard lessons learned from this previous experience.
So why couldn’t I just pull the trigger and fire off the resignation e-mail? Rationally, I knew quitting was the right step for me; I could spend at least 20 minutes giving a detailed description of all the reasons I should quit. Yet I questioned whether the situation would improve and wondered whether I should try harder to make it work.
Several days of hemming and hawing later, I had an “ah-ha” moment while discussing the topic with my mom. My problem was that I equate quitting with failing. Quitting, to me, meant admitting that I was wrong. In this case, I was wrong for accepting the job, wrong for being unable to complete the task, wrong for disliking the work. But in reality, quitting is about taking control of your own life and setting clear parameters for yourself. When you realize that an action, project, friendship, or situation does not fall in line with your particular boundaries, you must take steps to self preserve.
That doesn’t mean that you were wrong for trying something new. We were not meant to do everything. We are not perfect. The best thing we can do for ourselves is clearly identify our own limits and balance them with new endeavors, recognizing that not all of our goals will be realized — and that’s okay. Instead of believing that quitting a venture that is too painful or not worth the effort means that you failed, consider quitting a step toward controlling your own life, digging the boundaries in deeper to secure your balance.
Personally, I value time with my family and friends more than I value a high-powered career riddled with stress and pressure. Since this new project was requiring longer than I wanted to give, it wasn’t right for me. It doesn’t matter how my husband, friends, or family might have been able to respond under the same conditions, since parameters and boundaries for balance are inherently personal. All that mattered was I became conscious that this particular career move was compromising my life/work balance. So I sent that resignation e-mail and, not surprisingly, immediately felt relief. I had succeeded.
Next time you find yourself in a situation that feels out of control, consider whether quitting would preserve your mental well-being, overall health, and balance. Quitting just may be the most successful step you can take.