I Quit! — Choosing A Better Path

I haven’t said "I quit!" in quite a while. The last thing I quit was my corporate job over three years ago. Ok, I’ve also quit some small stuff, but this one fits into the larger category of quitting an activity that’s been part of how I’ve defined myself for over a year and those are always harder decisions to make.

For a while, I’d been having the nagging feeling that where I’d been volunteering my services a half-day a week wasn’t right for me anymore. I'd lost the spring in my step, I started to dread the day the night before and I'd be a lesser version of myself when there. I was ashamed of how I was feeling but it just didn't feel like I was contributing the way I want to contribute and participate in any endeavour.

I sometimes wonder if, when we're thinking of moving on from paid work, we think it's about the paycheque, but it's more about what I describe here. The paycheque is just a convenient excuse to shut up that little nagging feeling that we don't want to stay the course.

Despite knowing better, instead of listening to my gut telling me to move on, I would reiterate my tidy list of pro & con list in my head. That logic-bound stalemate kept me from making a move and it would have kept me there for who knows how long if I hadn’t started to change other aspects of my world (a concept I first introduced here) in a way that decidedly tipped the scales.

Though I wasn't taking direct steps to move on from the position, I was going about it in a round about way. Thank you subconscious!

Serendipity In Action

First, I read Peak by Anders Ericsson, a book that refocused my attention toward striving for more in the areas that mattered most to me, as opposed to what I was currently doing: treading water.

For most people, a primary component of being in their element is connecting with other people who share their passion and desire to make the most of themselves through it.
— Ken Robinson, The Element, p. 103.

Second, there was my book project that was causing me to both take a month away from my volunteer activities to focus on writing and to seek out opportunities for increased feedback on my writing/speaking. The time away gave me a chance to think, help other writers/bloggers and gave me a chance to seek opportunities for feedback on my own work, which made me (re)discover Toastmasters.

With these new activities, I immediately started to feel rejuvenated. I was managing to stretch my abilities and be of service to others at the same time. I was giving and receiving support in ways that I hadn’t experienced in a long time. Within two weeks, I had offers of assistance, potential speaking engagements and an immediate pool of friends who I knew would support me and vice versa. It’s been like living in a dream and I’ve been more productive than I’ve been in a while. It felt as though I had arrived.

These new experiences also helped me get clear about a truth that I’d forgotten: 

When you give of your time and energy, it should fuel you in return. Otherwise, it’s the wrong activity.

[I]nterest precedes the development of talent. It turns out that motivation is the reason that people develop talent in the first place.
— Adam Grant, Give and Take, p. 104.

This “aha” moment made the decision to move on much easier. That’s why I submitted my resignation email a full week before my planned return date. Though I felt I was letting some people down, I know I’ll be giving much more to the world around me though my current and future efforts.

This experience has also reinforced for me the need to continuously expose myself to new and different experiences. We need to get out of our comfort zone and try new things to both test our current reality—aka status quo—and to discover aspects of ourselves that we’ve either forgotten or never knew existed. 

Instead of seeing self-interest and other-interest as competing, the Caring Canadians found ways to integrate them, so that they could do well by doing good. As you’ll see, when concern for others is coupled with a healthy dose of concern for the self, givers are less prone to burning out and getting burned—and they’re better positioned to flourish.
— Adam Grant, Give and Take, p. 158.

It has also reminded me of the power of running towards something better as opposed to running away from our current circumstances. Choosing a direction that draws us toward a present and a future that feels right is the best decision we can make for ourselves. It makes us better versions of ourselves for our family, friends and colleagues.

I can’t wait to see what the balance of this year brings. If it’s anything like this past month, I know I’ll be in for some fireworks-level celebrations well before the New Year.

Do you need to quit something to make room for some new awesomeness?

Image credit/copyright: Evgeni Dinev/freedigitalphotos.net

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