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Category: Blog

My First Quit

I was listening to a podcast today in which the guest was describing some events from his childhood, and suddenly I was transported back to one of my most vivid memories from grade school – the day I enacted my first quit.

I believe I was in fourth or fifth grade, and all the popular kids were signing up to play on the softball team. So me, with my zero athletic ability, decided to join as well. You see, I was the definition of unpopular, and I was particularly upset about my station in life.

I had tried nearly everything to break in to the popular circle, but I had designed my attempts using logic, which is definitely not how things work in elementary school popularity contests.

My plan was to be great at things and as a result, the popular kids would love me. Well I realized soon enough that this tactic almost exclusively works with sports, as I was a darn good dancer and a pretty smart cookie and neither of those had won me any friends. So I was going to try my hand at this sports business and see if i could win the favor of the popular crowd that way.

My first day of softball practice was an eye-opener. I was worse at it than I had even expected, and trust me, expectations had been set pretty low. To this day, if a sport involves a ball, I should be nowhere near it. Well for as bad I was at hitting the ball, things got even worse when I took the field. I think I was assigned to second base, or shortstop, or something where you’re close enough to the batter for the ball to still have some serious momentum if it hits you.

And it did. The one and only time the ball came my way was a line drive directly into the left side of my chest, which at the time hurt so badly I was sure an ambulance was going to have to carry me off the field (yeah, what I lacked in sporting ability I made up for in dramatic imagination).

Did everyone come running to see if I was OK? Nope. Hilariously to the contrary. As I struggled to get myself back on my feet, I realize the game had continued as if nothing had happened. And oddly, my teammates were cheering for me. I was confused until I heard one of them, a girl squarely from the popular gang, encouragingly yell, “Way to stop the ball!”

This, to me, was an epiphany. What it had taken to get the popular kids’ approval was no less than physical danger and agonizing pain. Great…

Prior to this, the decision for a secondary hobby (my primary one was dance) had come down to softball versus gymnastics. Despite being a huge fan of gymnastics, I had chosen softball for the aforementioned misguided reasons. So when my mom picked me up after softball practice and asked how it went, I informed her that I was done with softball. Yep, one whole practice in and it was over. I started gymnastics almost immediately thereafter.

Now at this point you may be thinking it was a shame I didn’t give softball more of a chance. Or that I might have been well-served by having to struggle at something. Or that I may have improved and grown to love the sport. All of which are valid possibilities.

However, what is true now was also true then: we have a finite amount of time, money, and energy. My parents weren’t super wealthy to where I could ask them to pay for ten different hobbies. I also didn’t have time to do ten different things — I was already hard core into dance and I ended up being good enough at gymnastics that I made it to the pre-team (just one level before the actual competitive team), which required multiple nights a week at the gym.

So what did I get out of gymnastics? A plethora of broadly useful skills. In high school, I had been featured in multiple musical theater performances based on my ability to do a back handspring in a dress and heels or a no-handed cartwheel dressed like someone who lives in the magical land of Oz. I was also one of the few freshman to be asked to cheer on the varsity cheer leading squad thanks to a jankity but sufficient back flip.

Even now I still use the skills I learned. I do handstands in my yoga practice. In capoeira, the Brazilian martial art I train, I regularly do that same no-handed cartwheel I learned back in grade school. And in case you were wondering said elementary school was in my recent past, it most certainly was not. I’m forty, and I still spend as much of my time upside down or flying through the air as possible.

And while you can truly never know a negative, I can’t imagine softball would have been nearly as useful to me, aside from the ability to have joined a softball team later in life (which I still could, but I’m guessing I’d be equally as terrible now as I was then…there’s still a ball involved, after all.) Softball skills just don’t have nearly as much cross-over application as gymnastics skills do, so I am ever-grateful that even ten-year-old me had the power to quit on something that:

  1. I had started for the wrong reasons,
  2. I didn’t enjoy, and
  3. didn’t play to my natural strengths.

So what’s it for you? Is there something you started that may no longer be (or may never have been) in line with your true goals? Is there something you struggle against routinely that gives you more stress than strength? And is there something else you may want to be doing but you don’t have the time or resources to do it because your energy has been directed somewhere else?

You can’t physically/mentally/emotionally/financially do it all, so choose wisely and definitely you’ll have the utmost power to quit at anything in life.

Your Ideal Day

I can even list all the books and blogs and other self-improvement sources that have stressed the importance of going through the exercise of writing down your ideal day. Well, admittedly, I had never made the time to do it before – I had just shortcutted it by imagining my ideal day on several occasions.

However, that shortcut fails for a number of reasons. When you have to write something down, you have to put actual words to it, whereas in your daydream, things can be kind of amorphous concepts. For example, I had to write down exactly what my house would smell like, what music would be playing, what my house would look and feel like. This is a thousand times more helpful on giving you a clear picture of your goals than just imagining them is (though visualization can be a handy tool, I just suggest writing it down as well for extra clarification).

Now why is this exercise so crucial? Two reasons. First, the slightly woo-woo reason: for the universe to be able to help you achieve your goals, you have to give it a crystal clear picture of what those goals are. (For the less hippified reader, all I’m saying is that for YOU to achieve your goals, it’s best to have a clear picture of where you’re heading, so as to find the most efficient path there).

But the second reason is why said exercise appears on my blog today: if you compare your current life to your ideal life and there are some big differences, those areas may be ones in which a quit may be beneficial. For example, if your ideal life is on a farm with some baby goats, you may want to quit living in downtown New York. Or if you envision a life as a painter, you may want to consider leaving your job as an accountant.

So give it a try. Be VERY specific. I used the following list of questions from Ben Greenfield’s Blog post on this exercise as a guide:

-Where would you live?

-What would your house look like?

-What would it smell like?

-What time in the morning would you wake up?

-What would you do in the morning?

-What would you think about in the morning?

-What would you have for breakfast?

-Where would you go for the first part of the day?

-What would you have for lunch?

-Who would you eat with?

-Who would your friends be?

-What kind of conversations would you have with your friends?

-What are your friends like?

-What would you do for personal fulfillment?

-What life purpose would you strive towards?

-What would your business be?

-What time would you start work?

-What would you do in your business each day?

-What are your clients like?

-What’s your relationship like with your spouse and your family?

-What would you do for family time?

-What would you eat for dinner?

-What would you talk about at dinner?

-What would you do at night?

-Who would you spend your time with?

-What would your thoughts be as you went to sleep?

—-

The answers I came up with were often surprising, and led to a lot of introspection. I hope the exercise does the same for you.

Let me know what you found! Are there any areas you may need to quit?

If so, you know where to find me:)

“Quit the Wrong Thing Now” by Brendan Burchard

A friend recently sent me a video from author Brendan Burchard she knew I’d love – and I did! It was titled “Quit the Wrong Thing Now,” and everything he said in the video was music to my quitting ears.

Let me give you some of the highlights in case you don’t have time to watch the entire video (found HERE).

#1 – “Identify what makes you bored or miserable and that which makes you come alive.”

This is where he is essentially telling people to tune in to their intuitions. I often suggest people pay attention to what makes them angry or anxious, but he brings up a good point – pay attention to what makes you bored (which means you may want to put it on the quit list), but also to what makes you feel alive (so maybe you could focus more attention in that direction).

He said, “You know when it’s not right – it’s just hard to admit it sometimes.[…] High performers are admitting it. the Productivity gains come in their life because they’ve cleared the decks. ”

# 2 – “Think legacy”

He suggested another way to decide if you’re doing what you’re meant to do in your work when he asked, “Are you proud of the output you generated in that space?”

I rarely think in terms of legacy, but perhaps that’s because i’m only at mid-life. But I imagine that later in life I will look back and examine if I am satisfied with what I have done. So if you’re looking for another way to figure out if you should quit something, perhaps give the “check your legacy” method a try.

#3 “Release those who are not ready”

This is an important one that doesn’t get discussed that often – you sometimes need to quit people aside from your significant others. Friends and co-workers and other associates may be toxic to your journey if they’re constantly doubting and bringing negative energy into your life.

If you have the time, I highly recommend watching the whole video. But otherwise, I hope you got something out of the main points outlined above. As always, would love to hear your thoughts!

Until next time!

My Latest Quit – Quitting Partisan Politics

Hey quitting fans!

Wanted first to apologize for the infrequent posts. I’ve been hard at work trying to acquire literary agents and/or publishers for my book so I can finally get it on its way to YOU!

But I did want to take a minute to tell you about a recent quit of mine. See, for the past year I’ve been working in nonpartisan election reform. If “nonpartisan” is a term unfamiliar to you, it refers to activities that are outside of the political party system. You may have heard of “bipartisan,” which means two parties are working together, but nonpartisan means the parties are not involved.

At this point, 45% of the country considers themselves “nonpartisan” – as in they are not affiliated with a political party. But until last week, I still was. However, like is the precursor to many other quits, I started hearing that little voice in my gut tell me it was time to leave and join the ranks of those whose electoral rights I was fighting for on a daily basis.

What specifically were the signs? I’d get slightly embarrassed or upset when I’d hear things my political party was doing with which I didn’t agree, and I felt compelled to constantly try to distance myself from some of their actions.

I tell you these to illustrate just how subtle your gut may speak to you. But mine spoke loudly enough for me to take action.

So like with any quit, I did my research and preparation (note: since I work in the field, that was pre-done long ago – I knew what registering as “no party preference” would mean for me as a California resident). And then I quit. Nothing earth-shattering occurred, but I felt instantly lighter.

So there’s my little quit for the week. Did you quit anything recently? I’d love to hear about it!

“When you’re through changing, you’re through.”

A local journalist here in San Diego, Dan McSwain, recently wrote a very personal article about why he is quitting his dream job, and I couldn’t agree more with many of his sentiments – so I thought I’d share his perspective with you.

I particularly love the following quote:

“Wiser souls tell me that switching careers is healthy, a key to longevity. As the late, great columnist, speechwriter and word sleuth William Safire once said, “When you’re through changing, you’re through.” – Dan McSwain

Take a look at the full article HERE:

 

photo credit: Lori Weisberg/U-T

 

Are you all too HAPPY it’s LABOR DAY?

Hello friends!

As I look forward to spending my Sunday night salsa dancing (because I don’t have work tomorrow), I realized how excited I was to have a three-day weekend to catch up on things I don’t have enough time to do during the week (like update this blog!).

However, if you’re spending your Sunday night rejoicing that you don’t have to go into work tomorrow because your job gives you a near-permanent case of the Mondays, I think it may be time to discuss whether that job is working for you.

And here’s where I’ll get personal. It would be misleading for me to let you think I sit around and love all of my jobs all of the time. I do not. And in the times where they get frustrating and I’m starting to look less forward to going in and more forward to the end of the day, I do the same self-evaluation that I recommend in my Quitting by Design web series and upcoming book.

Recently I did make another quit. It was a small one – I quit playing soccer. I had joined our work’s team, but I was terrible at it and the hour each week where I was on the field was 60 minutes of sheer anxiety. So when the season ended, I decided not to play another season. However, note that I played two full seasons (hadn’t done enough of a gut check after the first one, apparently) and I also finished out the season and showed up to almost every game. (This is a sneak-peak of my upcoming book where I recommend you time your quits to have the least effect on those around you and burn the fewest bridges possible).

So since you’ve got a free day this week (or most of you do), why don’t you spend a few minutes of it doing your own intuition check. Is the thing you’re laboring at working for YOU? If not, may I suggest you hop onto my email list to get an advanced copy of one of my book chapters to see if you would benefit from a quit!

Enjoy your labor day my friends!

Is your job literally killing you?

This week an article from The Ladders appeared in my inbox that I have to pass along to you all. If you get nothing else out of the article, let me give you the most important section right here:

“Researchers from the Harvard Business School and Stanford University meta-analyzed the results of more than 200 studies to better understand the effects of stress in the workplace. They found that worrying about losing your job makes you 50% more likely to experience poor health and that having an overly demanding job makes you 35% more likely to have a physician-diagnosed illness.”

Yikes.

Now we all know stress is bad for our health, but apparently certain types of job-related stress have now been scientifically proven to be catastrophic to our well-being, so if you’re in a job that stresses you out and you needed further impetus to quit, consider the fact that quitting may well save your life!

The entire article is great (it actually zeros in on how to know if your boss is killing you) – check it out HERE.

Until next time,

Happy quitting!

When to Quit – Lessons from World-Class Entrepreneurs, Investors, Authors, and More (Podcast)

Tim Ferriss has done it again. In case you’re not familiar with Tim’s work, he’s the author of the Four-Hour Workweek, the Four-Hour Body, the Four-Hour Chef (see a theme?), and most recently he authored Tools of Titans, which is a collection of the lessons he’s learned through interviewing hundreds of top performers in several fields.

Tim’s podcast is often a wealth of great info, but recently he released an episode right up our alley: When to Quit.

In this episode, he lets his guests do 100% of the talking, and they offer great insights into their philosophies on quitting as well as their personal experiences.

Check it out HERE!

Coming Soon!

I’ve been a little absent from the blog recently – but for a good reason!

I’ve written a book (on quitting, which should come as no surprise) and I’ve been preparing the proposal to send to publishers. I know that self-publishing is very popular these days, and I may end up doing that, but I wanted to first see if a publisher (who knows what they’re doing in this arena much more than I do!) would be interested.

So my apologies for being MIA for a bit – but I promise there are good things around the corner!

By the way, if you sign up for my email list you can receive an advance copy of one of the book chapters – right NOW!!

So thanks for your patience and I look forward to having a book to send your way in the very near future!

Until then, happy quitting!!

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