If you haven’t seen it, I’ll describe it for you. In a now viral video, writer Marina Shifrin turns the camera on herself at the office around 4:30 a.m. She then proceeds to dance herself out of a job. Throughout the video, words splash across the screen explaining her reasons, then at the end we read, “I quit.” Then one more time in caps for good measure, “I QUIT!
You know what I thought about as I watched the video? I wish more people did this.
We humans (that means me included) often get stuck in a hamster wheel of habit. We do things that aren’t good for us, remain where we shouldn’t and put ourselves through voluntary suffering all in the name of comfort. We don’t know these things are damaging, because it’s normal to us.
But a rare few, like Marina, snap out of it and quit before it’s too late. Here are six things you should quit doing today, before it’s too late.
Quit Stopping – I’ve completed six half marathons (13.1 miles) over the past few years and each one has been an emotional experience for me. Here’s how it usually goes…
The gun goes off: “This is great! Today is gonna be a personal record, I just know it.”
Mile 5: “Am I sane?”
Mile 10: “You want this, ouch, you want this, ouch.”
Mile 13: “Where’s the dang finish line!!!!”
Finish line: “That. Was. Awesome. When’s the next one?”
They say that at the very moment you want to quit, you’re actually almost there. It’s the stupid human in us…we go so far and then our brains take over and tell us it’s too hard. When did we get the memo that life was supposed to be easy all the time?
Think right now about something you keep stopping. You committed to it, but then you suddenly quit because it started to require a little extra elbow grease. A project at work, a relationship, a fitness goal. Remember why you started it, then push onward. Because the more you stop and think about quitting, the longer it’ll take to get to your desired result. Or worse, you’ll never know what it feels like to reach the finish line.
Quit Saying Tomorrow – You know the saying, “Yesterday you said tomorrow?” Seriously, stop that! Delaying or procrastinating around something that you think is important means one of two things. You’re either scared to start because it means your life will change or you want it for the wrong reasons (i.e. someone else is encouraging you to do it).
So yes, that new healthy eating thing you want to do will be very difficult and possibly unpleasant. But every day you wait to start is another day you’re not helping yourself. And you keep telling yourself that you’ll wait until the kids are a certain age before you finish your degree, but is that really the main reason you’re waiting? Or is it because studying is not nearly as exciting as all the other options you have right now? And while you’re at it, why are you donating free money to the gym? They haven’t seen you in months.
Quit Being A Victim – When people tell me they’re doing something or making certain choices because they have “no choice,” it makes me want to bang my head on the table…and then put that on repeat. You have a choice in everything you do. Barring a few really crazy exceptions, no one holds your hand to the fire on anything. And if you’re choosing to remain in a place that isn’t positive, you’re victimizing yourself.
You are not so worthless that you have to keep dating that person. Obama and the economy are not forcing you to stay in that career. There are other places you could live. And it’s not your schedule that prevents you from being healthy.
Our social groups are great for complaining. We all discuss our problems with our friends and that’s ok. But there are limits. Everyone gets a few opportunities to complain about a particular hardship, but if you seek advice and respond with “but I can’t” (said in whiny voice) too many times, you officially become a victim. Eventually, you’ll have to ask yourself whether you even want to fix the problem.
Quit Saying Yes – My Yoga instructor reminded me recently that anytime we say yes to something, we’re saying no to something else. So when you say yes to a happy hour, you’re saying no to <insert your choice of workout>. When you say yes to a crappy review from your boss, you’re saying no to getting acknowledged for the great work that was overlooked. When you say yes to watching pointless reality TV shows, you’re saying no to doing the dishes. Or if you say yes to staying late at the office, you’re saying no to your relationship.
It could be you don’t need to entirely quit saying yes. You may just need to analyze when you’re saying yes and what you’re trading for it. You might find yourself saying yes to things you don’t even care about and no to things that could make your life better in some way.
Quit Expecting – I got an email the other night from someone looking for advice after reading this article. He told me that he’s been working for the same company for his entire career, rising through the ranks and loving it. But recently he realized he’s hit a wall – he’s had many reviews and each time he meets with management, they’re not giving him the promotion he knows he’s ready for. My question to him was, “Have you asked for it?”
It’s very rare for a company to proactively promote someone at a fast pace. Especially true in older organizations, if you expect your company to promote you when they feel you’re ready for it, you’ll be sitting around waiting for about 10 years to reach the next level.
Your boss is like your significant other. Don’t expect them to read your mind. They’ll only know what you need when you tell them. If you really have your heart set on something (like a promotion), you must be vocal about it. If you don’t speak up, you’re leaving the translation up to them. Expect at your own risk.
Quit Avoiding – Suck it up. We all have things we don’t want to do, but we have to do them because we’re adults. (Should I have started the paragraph with, “Dear Congress”?)
I once managed a team responsible for a corporate-wide project with a lot of moving pieces. There were some majorly miserable elements to that project and there were some really sexy parts (i.e. things you put on your resume) too. As I sat with my boss reviewing progress one day, she asked why I hadn’t finished one particular task (a task that couldn’t be delegated). I responded with, “It’s boring me!” Her response was, “Your point?”
Yeah, life doesn’t work that way. You can’t pluck the fun parts out and leave the tough parts on the table. You take all or none.
If we didn’t have to work hard to reach success, we wouldn’t appreciate it. If there’s something you’re putting off because it’s boring you, it’s hard, physically demanding or tiring…just get up and get it done. Quit avoiding it. There will be rewards along the way and there will be a great sense of accomplishment at the end.