Quitting vs. Giving Up

by Kenneth Rayman on March 30, 2019
The words “quit” and “fired” terrified me because anytime I looked for a job, it was long and arduous to even get an interview, let alone the job. I was terrified of getting called by my manager because of what it might mean, thus I worked in fear and reactive to any threat or inconvenience. I was terrified of always having to scrape by and if I quit or got fired it would be made worse. But the caveat was, I’d now gone through five industries, higher education, retail, apartment housing, government, and now senior care to try and make a career. And again, I found myself devoid of passion for what I was doing or attempting to do.

My aversion to “quitting” began with my father’s work attitude of “never question, just do the job, work your butt off, and remain loyal.” He had worked his way from floor operator to shift lead, foreman, and eventually production superintendent in 23 years at the same company, all on the back of relentless work; any work issues were seen as people being soft or not being properly focused. When I got my first job and started to have issues, his advice amounted to “shut up and deal.” With his work ethic, status as breadwinner in the family unit, and after mom died, sole parent coupled with the demands of his leadership position, he had no ability or time to coach me on how to handle work-related issues, nor was he going to allow me to focus on some “trivial” passion instead of education and steady pay.

Lynn makes a good point about the mindset switch being so hard, hearing someone say, “go live your best life,” with no tools provided or even mentioned on how to leave the current one. This exact thing led me to not put stock in personal growth for years because of the smoke and mirrors appearance and the quick frustration as money drained with little result, when I did, as someone, who’s made “millions,” told me to do so with success and, presumably, money following. 

Every time I found the passion was gone, or I was repeatedly knocking on a door that was never going to open, the way to change direction was never clear so I stuck with what paid the bills, until I finally got wind that I had burned bridges with too many people for them to care that I was drowning in the job. I would be told by at least one boss that they were actively trying to get rid of me but couldn’t yet and another that I was a pariah that no one wanted to talk to because of my attitude or what it might lead to. I routinely accept my personal responsibility in both situations, since they were both before my personal growth journey, but recognize that at least one of them involved discrimination in the background context of it.

It wasn’t until I let go of trying to make the title and ladder my ambition, at age 30, and switched to what drove me as a human being, at age 31, that I found a reason to “strategically quit.” I’m a storyteller and learner naturally, instead of a learned or trained passion like senior care, driven by knowledge and compassion and traveling to Russia opened a new possibility for me. 

I never wanted crisis, whether financial or professional, to drive me again. I found that with the mindset shift came a clarity of perception of my own opportunity to “do,” as I let someone else’s wants and needs dictate my life when they ripped me away from my Russian dream early. I allowed my concern for safety to override my happiness and passion of what I’d identify as changing the narrative of a culture beyond the accepted third-party version. The result was to ask what Tom Bilyeu did, “What would I do and love, EVERY DAY, even if I was failing?” I switched from doing what I thought would bring me happiness to what I KNEW would bring me happiness. A sense of total devotion came over me and I became focused on telling stories of the country (later countries), culture, history, and travel experience, along with my own story of personal growth as I saw the narrative change theme in both. Just like Lynn, I always knew something wasn’t right and, until I accepted the common theme that I was never in line with my gift in any of my attempts at a “normal” life, I continued to chase what I thought was right.

I applaud her effort to de-stigmatize the word “quit” and differentiate it from “give up.” Her five steps to a “Strategic Quit” are an amazing barometer if something is a temporary pain or a need for real change for yourself and/or others involved and how to do so. She makes a great point on the feasibility of quitting benefiting others if you are no longer providing the level of value needed but staying because of attachment or a sense of self-definition, which she says, is as unfair to them as it is to you. When you feel bad about quitting because of others’ opinions of your decision, she says brilliantly, “They might think nothing, they might think positively, [and] if they do think negatively, how long before they just keep swiping on Instagram?”

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