Is it time to quit?

It’s that time of year when we start thinking of New Year’s resolutions. One of the things that we might be thinking about is our work life. How is it going? Are we fulfilled in our jobs? It may be frustrating, but we feel we are working towards a worthwhile goal. To choose a better life we must keep choosing how we are living. Are we in a job or career that is just disappointing but are frightened to change.

Annie Duke has written a new book called QUIT: how to make the decision to walk away. Quit or grit.  We have been socialized to believe that Quitters are failures and Grit is a virtue. However, if you stay on a path that is now wrong for you, it will actually slow you down. You may be on this path and circumstances have changed in your company (new leadership) or your goals have changed. Grit is useful if you are pursuing a worthwhile but difficult goal. Quitting a job after the first few months may be a sign of discomfort and you need grit to evaluate the job properly.

What are some of the reasons people don’t quit. One is the sunk cost fallacy. We have put so much effort into this, walking away will be a waste of the time and effort we’ve invested. It is a fallacy because we have already put that time into and adding more time will further increase the waste. Maybe we are best to cut our losses and consider a more appropriate goal.

The other is fear of uncertainty. We have no assurance that the next choice will be better. (Steven Levitt, the author of Freakonomics, has built a website helping people when they are indecisive and do not know whether to change track). New opportunities are not necessarily better. Often consulting a coach: a trusted friend or professional is helpful.

Before you stay or quit, consider your motivations and accept that it is the best decision under uncertainty.