How Do I Know If I Should I Quit?
The book I have recommended more than any other is The Dip by Seth Godin.
Essentially, it’s about when to quit, and when to persevere.
This decision can define your career, and it’s not one you want to get wrong.
Quit too soon and you miss some golden opportunities.
Quit too late and you hurt yourself, as well as those close to you.
Seth argues that quitting is unfairly stigmatised – we use “Quitter” as an insult, when in reality it’s often a smart move.
Our energy and time are limited, so why spend them on things that are neither enjoyable or beneficial?
What we should focus on is quitting the wrong things, so that we can dedicate ourselves to the right things.
To illustrate this point, Seth draws two diagrams, The Dip and The Cliff/The Cul-De-Sac.
These are measured on two axes – Results and Effort.
Most of the good things in life start out easy, then soon become difficult. Think of learning an instrument, cooking, losing weight, learning a new language, saving for a house, or starting a new job.
The initial highs wear off after a few weeks, whilst the work remains difficult.
We naturally make an assessment: do I continue?
Yes or No?
What Seth suggests is a slight modification: Will this get better over time, and is it worth staying through the Dip in order to eventually succeed?
I love this line of thinking – it puts the control back in your hands.
This is a long term cost benefit analysis: How much do I have to pay now, and what do I eventually get in return?
If that feels like a bad trade, then you can happily quit. As they say in poker, a good fold is as important as a win.
If that feels like a good trade, then there’s light at the end of the tunnel. The toil feels different when you know there’s a payoff, and the hard days are exhausting rather than bleak.
Once again, this comes down to tradeoffs. You can trade in the currencies of time, money, energy, attention, status and happiness – all for the best possible outcome.
The decision to go back and study? Trading time, money and energy for more money, status and happiness in the future.
Changing jobs might mean trading energy and attention for money, or trading money and status for happiness.
The Dip gives you a framework for measuring and forecasting these tradeoffs.
By weighing up the difficulties and the benefits, you can make decisions that you won’t regret.
There’s one currency that’s not up for trade – your mental health.
No job is worth you being miserable.
No opportunity is worth putting your wellbeing at risk.
Nothing is so urgent that you need to sacrifice your sanity.
Yes, you can expect rough days and bad weeks.
There shouldn’t be bad months and years for your mental health.
One useful test is how you feel on Sundays – are you dreading the week ahead?
If this creeps into your weekend, something needs to change.
The force fighting against this is usually your ego – wanting to persevere for the sake of your reputation rather than your health happiness.
Your ego is a jerk.
There’s an old expression:
Some men die by shrapnel
And some go down in flames
But most men perish inch by inch
Playing little games.
Take some time to think about which graph you’re currently on: The Dip, The Cliff or the Cul-De-Sac.
If you’re not sure, talk to someone you trust, they might have a helpful perspective.
If it’s The Dip, the next question is “What tricks can I use to make the next few months easier?”
If it’s the other two, the question becomes “Where should I look next?”
You might feel stuck, but it’s an illusion.
These days, you have more choices and opportunities than anyone in history.
Make the most of it.
Put in the work, but ensure that it’s going towards the right thing.