Knowing When to Quit – 3 lessons for my 2014 self.

Dear 2014 Me,

Knowing when to quit is tough. And quite frankly, you suck at it.

I’m not talking about quitting smoking or fast food or alcohol – you don’t do A, rarely B, but you could lighten up on C (we had to give up beer by the way, you’ll eventually get over it).

You know what I’m talking about – you’re thinking about it already. It’s that fleeting thought you keep firmly at bay with blinkers made from poor logic and fear.

Because you are so very bad at knowing when to quit, here is some advice to make the next 3 years a little easier. You will, I’m certain, read and ignore, but maybe the idea will snake its way into your subconscious, find that fleeting thought and drag it to the surface.

But before we start, stop trying to get four cups of tea out of the one tea bag. Two is enough.


You need to quit your job.

You will rationalise a multitude of reasons not to. I know it’s all you’ve done in your professional life. Yes, you will need to find another job so you can buy food. No, you cannot go part time and transition (hint from the future – it didn’t work). But you need to leave. It’s time. The course has been run.

I know how much you enjoy cartoons, so to make this message easier to swallow I’ve made you a book. No, it’s not a children’s book but people read it to their kids because the only offensive thing in there is my attempt at illustration. I suggest you start taking drawing lessons…now.

Here are three things you need to know.

You haven’t invested “too much” time and energy into your career.

I know, I know. Four years of university plus nearly 8 years in the industry. It’s been a long time. But you can change course, and you will. Quitting now will not make you a failure.

May I suggest not panicking and taking the shotgun approach we favour – take the time to think about how you will change career. Honestly, it will save you about a year if you just think about it now. Go outside, stare at the clouds, and plan.

You are hurting yourself and people you care about.

I don’t need to say much more here. You know you are. You don’t mean to, but you are. Stop writing it off as grit or determination and realise the damage that is being done. Your hair is falling out, you’re losing your memory, and you’re developing autoimmune issues. It won’t stop until you do. No, you are not weak because a job is doing this to you. It’ll take a few years for that to sink in – starting dealing with it now. (Read blue page first, then white page).

You don’t owe it to anyone to stay in this job

You think you do, but you don’t. Not your parents, not your boss. Perhaps paradoxically, that never-ending faith he has in you is making it worse. Be grateful for what you’ve had and done, and move on. Oh, and don’t be so self-absorbed – no one is paying as much attention to you as you think. The world will keep turning when you leave. And no, you don’t die when you quit.


To conclude…

Striking out on your own is hard. It’s more frightening and uncomfortable than that time you jumped off the cliff at Manly and your bikini bottoms moved further north than you thought was possible. But just like then, the discomfort can be managed and with enough prodding, eventually removed.

You don’t regret quitting. You will be just fine.




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