Not All Quits are Created Equal

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.

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