it can be the greatest risk you ever take. quitting can go against everything you know, everything you’re told, everything you fear. your friends tell you how secure your job is, how right your relationship is, how great your house is. your parents told you never to quit a job before you’ve given it 2 years. you tell yourself you’re going to fail, that it’s not practical. you’ve equated quitting with failing and that’s far from the case. sometimes, quitting may be the greatest success of your life.
you’ve probably read some of the books i’ve read. one’s like seth godin’s the dip, jon acuff’s quitter or start, dan miller’s 48 days to the work you love or any number of others that tell stories of people quitting something that was miserable, boring or just a poor fit in order to move into something that freed them to be extraordinary. do you have that feeling that a little piece of you dies every day as you walk into work? i’ve felt that and it’s haunting. settling into my desk drudging through each day hoping the minutes pass faster, that my snacks don’t run out before the end of the day, that my boss leaves early so i can duck out, that my computer crashes, my car breaks down, or there’s a wreck in front of me on the way back from lunch, anything that may break up my day so that it moves more quickly. crap! a piece of me just died. did you notice it pass? me neither. it just snuck out and died. a little less of my individual creative existence and a bit more of the status quo.
don’t just talk about how miserable you are or how board. just quit it. sure, develop a short term plan and timeline for transition if you need to. but share it with a few people and be held accountable. take seriously the slow wandering into the mire of the miserable and do something about it. quit. take the risk. take the plunge. jump out of the plane and feel the wild wind of uncertainty as you embrace your new adventure. what is it? if can be anything. you can jump from investment banking to teaching or the other way around. from working with the homeless to working on wall street. only you know what brings you back to life. but, by all means, seek out life.
henry david thoreau, in walden said, “it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.” this quote comes right after the overworked line, “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” if wisdom does not act in desperation and the mass of men lead quietly desperate lives then to live wisely is to live contrary to the masses, the status quo. to live wisely may just be to live extraordinarily. quit that you may live wholeheartedly in your work, your relationships, your play, your thoughts and your rest. quit that you may live wisely. quit that you may experience and participate in the extraordinary. you need it, i need if from and for you, the world around you needs it.
consider that the most extraordinary thing you may do is to quit that you may start living.