How To Quit Comfortably

Bidding farewell to something that doesn’t work for you should be an opportunity to affirm what is good in your life, and to celebrate moving forward.

For that to happen, though, you need to approach exits in a positive, productive way. It’s easy to find plus points to giving up cigarettes or getting out of a moribund relationship. Leaving a job, however, especially a decent job, can be tricky.

You may have mixed emotions. Change is daunting, giving up the security of a familiar situation can be stressful, people may question your choice. (Ignore them. They don’t understand and it isn’t your duty to explain.) For your own sake, think through your transition before you write that letter. Plan how you’re going to make the process of quitting work for you.

How to Quit Comfortably:

1. Check Your Contract – Be sure you know what your notice period is, rules about using holiday, confidentiality policy, gardening leave, etc

2. Write your resignation letter then wait – Take at least 24 between writing your letter and submitting it. Ensure it is clear, professional, error-free and neutral. This is not the place to rant about your colleagues or complain about your pay.

3. Stay productive – It’s tempting to slack off but frankly, staring at Facebook doesn’t make the day go any faster. Be professional, do your work well, if only for your sake.

4. Be present – Once you’ve made the decision to quit it is natural to focus on the future. By all means start laying the groundwork for your next step, whether it’s researching a new industry or planning a DIY project, but don’t try to micro-manage a future that isn’t here yet.

5. Decide what to take with you – Not your favourite mug, or the contents of the stationary cupboard, but the intangibles. Every job, even (or especially) the bad ones can teach you something if you’re willing to learn. Identify and write down 10 positive things you can take from the role.

6. …And what to leave – Jobs are like relationships: bad ones condition you to accept being unhappy and set you up for more dissatisfaction. Figure out what frustrated you and use this awareness to avoid repeating negative patterns.

7. Detach from other peoples’ emotions – If your boss and colleagues are supportive, fantastic; if not, so what? This isn’t about them. Same goes for friends, partner, family, and acquaintances. You can acknowledge their views without getting emotionally invested.

8. Surround yourself with good things – Quitting can be tough so make the rest of your life easy. Socialise more (or less); exercise; go away for a weekend; do more of what you love.

9. Give feedback– As a quitter you have the privilege of speaking truth to “power” without repercussions. An honest exit interview is closure for you and an opportunity for your employer to make things better for your replacement.

10. Celebrate!

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How To Be Free

High on the list of books I cannot live without is Walden, Henry David Thoreau’s masterpiece. My dogeared, pencil-lined copy is one of my prized, and most frequently reread, possessions. The following is from its final chapter.

I did not wish to take a cabin passage, but rather to go before the mast and on the deck of the world, for there I could best see the moonlight amid the mountains. I do not wish to go below now.

I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams and endevours to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will but some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favaour in a more liberalse sense, and he will live with the licence of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.
~Henry David Thoreau

Love Enough

The only calibration that counts is how much heart people invest, how much they ignore their fears of being hurt or caught out or humiliated. And the only thing people regret is that they didn’t live boldly enough, that they didn’t invest enough heart, didn’t love enough. Nothing else really counts at all.

…that’s how we measure out our real respect for people—by the degree of feeling they can register, the voltage of life they can carry and tolerate—and enjoy. End of sermon. As Buddha says: live like a mighty river. And as the old Greeks said: live as though all your ancestors were living again through you.
– Ted Hughes

Via Letters of Note

Big Quitters Start Small

Quitting is an exercise like any other. You don’t have to rush in and try to deadlift the heaviest thing in your life. The big, scary weights aren’t going anywhere so you may as well start with something you can pick up.

For example, when I went to Mexico I quit buying facial cleanser. At first, it was just because I was flying hand-luggage only and it was over the 100ml size limit. So I took off without it. A few days of soap and water on the road and… nothing happened. My skin – long accustomed to expensive cleansers and moisturisers – remained exactly the same. It didn’t flake off or swell up or go greasy.

Now I use Dove bar soap once a day, which costs less than a quid and lasts for months. This represents a considerable savings over £6-£10 on a cream cleanser that lasts a few weeks, so switching has saved me a lot of money.

More importantly, once I realised that ‘cleanse, tone, moisturise’ is pure marketing bullshit I started wondering “what else do I really not need?”

Turns out I can live without a huge handbag collection and a closetful of impractical shoes. Nothing bad has happened as a result of only owning one winter coat and one pair of trainers. Sure, I still have loads of stuff I treasure and would hate to get rid of but it’s good to know I don’t need it.

Why Quit?

In case you were wondering, I am 100% serious about the I Quit Club. For real. Quitting can change your life.

Quitting is tough though. Not the act itself, which is as easy as falling off a bike (and a lot more fun) but getting your head around the idea that it’s okay to quit.

I was brought up to think quitting was bad. Grown-ups told me that “winners never quit and quitters never win”.

It never occurred to me to ask: “win what?” so I carried on not-quitting like a good girl, right up to my second year of university.

To put this in context, I’d wanted to be a doctor since I was 12. My big crush was Noah Wyle in ER and a steady diet of white-coat heroics convinced me medicine was my calling.

It was a logical choice: secure, predictable, good money, and above all respectable. Off I waltzed to uni: confident, determined and oblivious to the implications of the fact that I hated physics, struggled with chemistry, shrank from biology, and shuddered at maths. I also studiously suppressed my love of English and writing.

Looking back, I am half-amused and half-horrified at how dumb a bright girl can be (“Was anyone ever so young?” Joan Didion sighed). Nothing got through until my second year when I hit term two of physics. Most stuff I can bluff through but physics stopped me cold. You can’t bullshit an equation. Lectures were torturous and the coursework reduced me to tears.

The idea forced itself into my head, unbidden: “why don’t you quit?” Oh god. That was not in my plan. Quelle drama. I freaked out. Bored my poor friends witless with my teacup tempest. In the States, physics is a pre-med requirement so quitting the class meant the end of my doctor dream. Oh my god. I had my WHOLE LIFE mapped out. Quitting would fuck everything up. But I still couldn’t do physics. So I quit.

The minute I made the decision my anxiety and guilt vanished in a rush of relief. I didn’t have the right answers, but I had definitively eliminated a wrong one. It felt amazing.

What I didn’t appreciate until much later was that you can’t have everything at once. You can’t reach out for something new, or receive a gift, if you’re hanging on to your baggage with both hands.

Join the IQ Club

Join the IQ Club — because smart people know when to quit.

Quitting is good. Seriously. If you want to be happier right now quit something.

What bugs you? Your job? Your crummy relationship? The headlines? Carpooling? Organising play dates for your kids? Pretending to be interested in your friend’s kids? Grocery shopping?

Whatever it is, take a deep breath and say – preferably aloud – “I Quit.”

You can. You are an adult, of sound mind and free will. Act like one. Do not say “I can’t.” If you won’t, be honest and say that. But don’t say “can’t”.

We’ve been sold this bullshit that in order to improve our lives we need to do more. So we run ourselves ragged to work harder, go to the gym more, eat six small meals a day, be more sociable, catch up on the latest whatever, do up the spare room… the list runs on forever. As long as we play that game we’ll always be a few tick-boxes away from perfection, so quit.

What do you have to lose? Bad habits, bad relationships, boring friends, time-and-money wasting hobbies you don’t really enjoy, uncomfortable shoes, the respect of people you don’t give a shit about anyway.

The reason a lot of us don’t quit stuff is we’re scared to falling behind. Bollocks to that. Let’s stop chasing impossibilities and revel in taking control. Be a proud quitter.

Join the IQ Club by posting a comment saying what you’re quitting, email or Tweet @CilaWarncke with your IQ(uit) pledge. My favourite “quit” wins a bar of chocolate and a copy of “On Self-Respect” so hit me up and make it interesting!

Inspiration via Salma Hayek

Never thought I’d find myself quoting an A-list Hollywood actress for her wisdom but hey, life is full of surprises. Salma Hayek’s advice to “ambitious women” is too brilliant to not share.

You have to believe in yourself. You have to take care of yourself, work for yourself, believe in yourself, and also be patient with yourself. Learn when not to push too hard, and give yourself a break. Make sure that what you want is what you want, and not what society expexts of you, or how you can impress the idiots.