If you can’t decide whether it’s time to quit a job, end a relationship, bow out of a social organisation, or simply say goodbye to something in your life that might be kinda okay but not great, ask yourself three questions.
What aspect of this situation is making me want to quit? What’s the problem here?
Can I fix the problem?
If I can’t fix the problem, will it improve on its own in the future?
Let’s say you’re part of a group that meets every week to drink beer and play board games. You used to look forward to the weekly hang, but recently you’ve started dreading it—so should you quit, or keep showing up?
The first thing you need to do is ask yourself why you want to quit. Is it because you’re overscheduled and don’t have enough time in your day to rest and recharge? Is it because your job has become increasingly demanding, or because you’ve taken on a new commitment in your personal life (a partner, an ageing parent, a baby)? Is it because the group has added a new member who’s dragging the whole thing down? Is it because you and the other group members have moved into different stages of your lives, and you no longer feel like you’re hanging out with peers?
Once you’ve identified the core problem, your next question is whether you can fix the issue that’s causing you to dread the event. If the issue turns out to be something that’s solvable, such as “I don’t like game night because I always feel hungover the next day,” then go ahead and implement the solution (drink fewer beers, in this case) and see if the urge to quit recedes.
If the issue is something you can’t fix on your own—like the increased demands at work—ask yourself whether the situation is likely to improve on its own. Will your workload ease up in a month or two, giving you more time (and more energy) for social events?
If the situation will get better in the near future, hang in there (or, if you’d rather, tell your group that you need to take a month off until your work thing clears up). But if your job is going to remain this intense for the foreseeable future, it might be a good idea to quit the board game group—or ask yourself the same three questions about your job.
At The Lily, career expert Amy Gallo frames this strategy as a flowchart, noting that deciding whether or not to quit “all goes back to whether something is out of your control and whether that might change in the future.” Of course, quitting a job generally comes with a few more consequences than quitting a board game group—especially if you don’t have another job lined up yet—so you might want to give yourself a little bit of time to see if the situation does in fact improve on its own:
In less clear-cut cases, Gallo suggests setting a time frame for yourself: Tell yourself you’ll stick out the job for another three months or six months or a year, and don’t push that timeline out again. “If you keep pushing it out, that is a tell-tale sign,” she says. “The key is, what’s a reasonable time frame in which you can do some experimentation in terms of those things you can control and change — are they changing?”
Don’t forget that you can stick out your current job and search for a better one simultaneously—and you can can also stick to your current exercise routine while also trying out a new group workout class, or keep dropping in to the board game club while also testing out a different social club or organisation. (This works less well with relationships, for obvious reasons.)
But if you’re certain there’s no way to improve the situation and/or you simply don’t want to improve it, you can just quit—and see what enters your life when you make space for something new.