I met with a friend last night who was contemplating quitting his job. And not because there was anything necessarily wrong with the job. More so because when he wasn’t at his best or most efficient, there were no actual repercussions, which allowed time for his mind to wander and for him to often feel bored. And also because he wanted to do the same type of work, but with the freedom of being able to do it wherever and whenever he wanted.
So while some of us get anxious or stressed because parts of a job are causing us grief, he was suffering from a different sensation, one I can only best describe as restlessness. A feeling of “there could be more.” I appreciated him bringing this to me, because that’s a quitting situation that generally only those really in touch with their true desires approach.
Like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, there is also a hierarchy of quits. There are the basic quits that can save a life — for example, quitting a relationship that involves abuse. Then there are the quits that can save one’s health — like when you quit a job that causes ulcer-inducing levels of stress. But somewhere near the top are the quits that aren’t due to decreasing health or happiness…they’re due to knowing that on the other side there’s even more happiness and fulfillment.
In the hierarchy of needs, a person has to fulfill the basic needs of food and shelter before moving on to fulfilling the desire for love, and eventually, self-actualization. Similarly, quitting something that isn’t harming you in any way assumes that nothing is currently jeopardizing your life or physical/mental health. It’s the goal to which we should all aspire.
But it’s not where most of us start, so let’s start at the beginning. Is there something threatening your life? Start the quitting there. Please. Like immediately. With a call to 911 or a visit to a local shelter or to a medical professional. And if not (which I sincerely hope is the case), then ask yourself if there’s something jeopardizing your physical or mental health. If so, then make that your quitting priority.
However, if none of these describe you, well, first of all — congratulations! You’re at the level where you can evaluate whether there’s more that life can offer you. So take a look at your relationships, your job, your career, your living situation. If any part of it could be more fulfilling, more rewarding, more aligned with your goals and mission, then perhaps it’s time to consider an upgrade.
I always stress that strategic quitting differs from regular-ol’ quitting in many ways, but one of the most important is knowing what exactly you should quit. Very often people know they’re not happy with their situation, but they’re not exactly sure why.
Unstrategic quitters at that point quit either everything, or random things. Like “Let’s randomly move to a new city, or quit a relationship. Maybe that’ll help.”
I mean, maybe it will, but it’s a gamble.
What’s more strategic is deciding exactly what isn’t working and then quitting only that.
This quit is a great example of a small one that can make a big difference: quitting clients.
I know CPAs who quit doing taxes for individuals and instead only focus on businesses. I know coaches who stopped doing group coaching sessions. And I know doctors who stopped seeing insured patients and now see cash-only patients.
If you’re in any of these fields, the reasons why my friends made the above moves probably jump out at you immediately. But if you’re not, just know that in every field there are going to be clients who take more of your time and energy than others, or who in some way or another lead to less return on investment than others do, or who just happen to rub you the wrong way more than others.
But first, apologize.
Let me clarify. If you’re servicing a certain type of client and you want to stop doing so while there is still a relationship, that’s going to take some artful finagling. Especially doctors and lawyers and CPA-types who have a fiduciary duty to their clients must take special care that you let your clients go in the most legal and ethical means possible. Ensure you have someone else ready to take your place as best you can, and do apologize for the inconvenience.
Some more examples of this include an attorney friend who quit civil cases and decided to focus only on criminal because they are a lot more cut and dried and they’re shorter from start to finish, which allowed him to better plan his schedule.
I also quit a type of client: high maintenance athletes and their staff. I’ll never forget the time I was a sports medicine fellow and I was called by whomever was working for the Arizona Diamondbacks at the time they were in Tucson, Arizona for spring training. My fellowship, at the University of Arizona in Tucson, had me working with the team, which probably sounds really exciting, right until the calls start. I’d get calls in the middle of the day to go to their facility and do physicals on the latest round of new players. Were they emergency physicals? (Is that even a thing?) No. They were just requested by people not used to anyone saying no to them.
One day they called and said they needed me to come give a player an allergy shot. Now, I won’t debate the efficacy of the shots I was asked to give, but let’s just say this wasn’t a “dude ate a peanut, now needs an epic-pen” situation…this was for seasonal allergies. They make this request in the middle of a full clinic day. Yet I go over there, leaving my patients to sit in the waiting room while I get this shot ready. I go to give it to the player and I can’t find him. “Oh he’s batting,” they tell me. ARE YOU SERIOUS? I interrupted my day but he can’t skip an at-bat, during an intrasquad game, by the way, for me to give him this shot he apparently needed RIGHT NOW!
So I waited. And after whatever time period an at-bat should have taken, I asked again if he was ready. “Oh he’s in the outfield now.”
Oh no he didn’t….
At that point I lost what little patience I had and headed to the field with syringe in hand, declaring if they wanted a steroid scandal I was going to give them one cause I was going to inject him on the field because I HAD PATIENTS WAITING!
He came in.
But moral of the story is that if a client or group of clients gets you to the point that you’re about to shove sharp objects in a left fielder while dodging a line drive, you may want to consider quitting them.
Just my two cents:)
This time of year people are often either anticipating or dreading Valentine’s Day, depending on their relationship status.
Being able to poke fun of your singleness on Valentine’s day is one way to cope with the lack of a romantic Valentine with whom to share the day (see photo below), but many others have chosen to quit recognizing the day altogether.
Remember Liz Lemon from 30 Rock? She chose to celebrate Anna Howard Shaw day on the 14th instead. Others have rebranded it “singles awareness day.”
I’m no different. For the second year in recent past, I’ve purposely booked a red eye that leaves on the evening of Valentine’s Day just to take off any pressure. Cleverly disguised as a Valentine’s gift to self, of course.
But I have a suggestion. Instead of quitting Valentine’s day or finding some way to run from it or disguise it, how about we quit the dread associated with it?
Why? You may ask. Or, more likely, how???
Well as I recorded the intro to the podcast that I’m releasing tomorrow, I started by wishing listeners a happy Valentine’s Day…something I think the jaded me would never have done. But I’ve developed a gratitude practice that helps remind me of what I have to be grateful for instead of focusing on what I feel I lack…like an actual Valentine.
How this may sound like hippie mumbo jumbo, but I swear it works. I’m not dreading tomorrow. I’m actually looking forward to getting to send love to everyone who’s made me feel loved this year.
And the list is not short. Did you read an article I wrote? Or purchase a copy of my book? Or encourage me when the pre-sale was rough? Or give me feedback on my podcast? Or say a generally encouraging thing during a tough time? Or participate in any of the activities that bring joy to my life?
Then you are my valentine.
Finding ways to send and receive love that aren’t romantic, and generally appreciating all those in your life who support you every day, are great means of turning Valentine’s Day from your greatest fear to yet another chance for celebration.
I’ll start early. You read this far? Guess what, per the above, you more than qualify. I love you!!! Happy Valentine’s Day:)