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  • Teresa George

Spring cleaning your life? -- What to quit?

Updated: May 22, 2019

Spring cleaning…we often think about it for a yard, house or office. And I’ve gotten into Marie Kondo’s Netflix Series on Cleaning Up and organizing a home (although you couldn’t tell it by looking in my closets). But what about spring cleaning our schedule and our life? What about creating some space for new opportunities?


Often, we’re guilty of piling on, like in football. We add new projects and activities into our already packed schedule – Crossfit workouts, cooking healthier meals, beginning a weekly mentoring with new hires – without considering where that extra time is going to come from. Then we beat ourselves up for being spineless creatures who don’t follow through. Let’s stop setting ourselves up to fail.

Here’s what might help. Begin to create some margin for new activities. Instead of looking at what to add to your plate, look at what you could take off. What should you quit? What do you need to let go of? That job, that habit, that employee who’s been a hindrance to the organization from the get-go? That hobby you no longer enjoy? Scrolling Facebook instead of going to bed earlier? Binging on Netflix? That business strategy that’s still floundering? That person who drains you emotionally after every conversation? Cutting your own grass every Saturday?


When is it time to cut your losses?

I went through that process with a job I accepted early in my career. Within the first six weeks, I knew it wasn’t the right fit, yet the longer I stayed, the more time I had invested, and the harder it was to leave. And the mantra, “Winners never quit!” kept running through my head. If I quit, then I’m a failure.


So, when is quitting a smart move?

Here are some guidelines to help:


1. Ditch the denial.


What reality are you denying? Sure, you’re not saying the earth is flat, but what are you avoiding seeing clearly that keeps you stuck? Even CEOs aren’t immune to this. One major reason why boards fire CEOs is that the CEO is in denial.


In a four-year leadership study, 23 percent of CEOs lost their jobs because they wouldn’t face the facts. This made them insulated, out of touch and unable to take action. “Board members overwhelmingly said they could handle bad news and significant course corrections. What they couldn't handle was a CEO who was in denial and wouldn't recognize the bad news,” the study reported.


2. Re-frame quitting.


Seth Godin wrote The Dip about when to quit. He told one interviewer, “Well, if quitting is a moral failure, then of course you shouldn't quit. But quitting is not a moral failure; it's a strategic decision.”


You are not a loser if you quit. You may be making a smart decision.


3. Change the “how” not the “what”


Maybe “how” you’re doing something needs to change rather than “what” you’re doing. For instance, part of Amazon’s value proposition is doorstep delivery. They are constantly looking at “how” they do that delivery. So, the goal doesn’t change but the tactics might. If your goal is to own your own business, maybe you change the type of business rather than giving up being an entrepreneur altogether.


4. Quit making heat of the moment decisions.


Avoid making a knee-jerk decision in victory or defeat. The day a project blows up at work is not the day to decide to quit. And opting to stay with the company for the next two years when you land a big client is probably not the best idea either. Again, it’s about making strategic decisions out of the heat of the moment.


5. What would you do if you hadn’t invested so much?


Would your actions be different if you hadn’t spent so much time, money, ego, emotional investment in the decision? When I decided to quit my job, I asked myself, “What would I do if I didn’t have so much time invested in this?” That was eye-opening to me, because I immediately thought, “I’d quit!” So, then I realized my time already invested was causing me to invest even more. I didn’t quit that day, but I knew I needed to begin looking for another job.

Bounty from last year's garden

6. Look at the Expiration Date


Some things have a “shelf life” and then expire. When we first bought our house, my husband relished mowing the grass. He looked forward to spending a chunk of his Saturday doing it. But after quite a few years, he got busier and began to dread it. Finally, he decided to sell the lawnmower and hire a lawn service who can get it done during the week. That freed him up to fulfill his “Saturday yard time” differently. He built raised beds to grow vegetables that now brings him satisfaction like mowing the lawn did years ago.



We have only so much time, energy and mental bandwidth to create the life we really want, so let’s take a look at what things we need to stop doing. That will free us up to spend more time doing what’s even more important or creative or fulfilling or profitable. And also, give yourself a break. Sometimes, we try things that don’t work out. It doesn’t mean we didn’t learn valuable lessons from them. It also doesn’t mean we have to keep doing them forever. Sometimes, we need to give ourselves permission to quit.


Enjoy the journey,

Teresa


Let us know in the comments:

What’s one thing you decided to quit this year?

What do you want to make more space in your life for?

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