HAVE you ever wanted to just walk out the door, slam it behind you and never go back, but haven’t quite had the guts?
Whether it’s a flaky friend, a difficult boss or a relationship that’s run its course, quitting anything is daunting. But if you have a hard time walking away, you’re not alone.
“A lot of people find it difficult calling it quits, especially the over-40s,” says psychotherapist, coach and author of Get Unstuck, André Radmall.
It possibly stems from generations being raised with the archetypal “keep calm and carry on” British disposition. And it might help explain why generation X and older workers will have had only 10 jobs throughout their whole career, while 16% of millennials have already moved jobs 10 times since starting work.
While the temptation is to dismiss them as fickle and work-shy, it’s more likely down to millennials’ determination to put their mental health and wellbeing first.
So what can older workers learn from their younger counterparts? Here, we ask the experts how you can navigate the art of quitting and enjoy a happier, more fulfilled life…
PLAN YOUR EXIT
Mind made up? Then it’s time to formulate your exit strategy. But before you make the giant leap into the unknown, start by getting your ducks in a row.
“If you’re quitting in one area of your life, make sure you have consistency and strength in other areas to help you through the transition,” advises André.
“So if you’re going to quit a relationship, have friends on standby for when it feels tough, and keep up exercise routines, a good diet and sleep. All of these will support your wellbeing.”
It can also pay to get to grips with how you feel about the idea of “quitting” before you do it. Many of us consider it an act of defeat and see it as a negative action.
“It has connotations of being weak and unsuccessful or of letting people down,” says Lydia. “I strongly suggest changing your language from ‘quitting’ to ‘moving on’ or ‘letting go’.”
André says real failure is: “Staying in a box that traps you and prevents you from being able to serve the world and shine your light.” Taking a stand and walking away can be hugely positive for your career, self-esteem and mental health. You define what failure is; it’s not down to other peoples’ opinions,” André adds.
SPOT ANY RED FLAGS
A bad day at work, yet another passive-aggressive remark from a friend – we’ve all fantasised about putting an end to a toxic situation during times of rage or frustration.
But psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos warns that giving up on something prematurely can actually do more harm than good.
“There’s a huge difference between hardships and toxicities,” she says. “Most things that are worth having in life, you’ll probably feel like you want to quit at some point.
“So being able to distinguish between what is not going to bear fruit and not allow you to grow, and something that is perhaps difficult now but will allow you to change and flourish in the future, is critical.”
First, note any red flags. “We have a tendency to tell ourselves things are OK way after the point at which we should have sought help,” says André.
He advises asking yourself if any of these tell-tale signs hit a nerve. So if you’re screaming yes to any – or all – of the statements below, it could be time to move on.
- You find yourself complaining to friends about the situation.
- You dread going into work or seeing the person who is making you miserable.
- Staying in that place or being with that person is taking way too much effort and energy.
- If you didn’t quit whatever it is that’s making you unhappy, you would feel exhausted and as though all the joy and energy is fading away, increasingly bitter and frustrated, and as though you wouldn’t be living your life to its full potential.
MANIFEST THE FUTURE
Now that you’ve identified the red flags, what next? It’s a tried-and-tested method, but manifesting (or visualising and feeling) your future is a great way to work out what you really want. And it’s a tool that life coach Lydia Kimmerling swears by.
“Quitting often has emotional attachments that cloud our judgement, so try writing down what your ideal day looks and feels like,” she says.
Making a list of pros and cons can help you firm up how you feel, while forcing you to face the reality of quitting – both positive and negative. “Now you need to weigh up the outcomes against how you feel currently and also consider the ideal outcomes,” says Lydia.
“What if leaving this relationship gives you a new lease of life and you meet The One? Or what if on the day of handing in your notice, you’re approached by a company that offers you your dream job? Both have happened a number of times to my clients.”
With your risk assessment done, it’s time to phone a friend. Getting a fresh perspective from a trusted pal or loved one can give you the clarity of thought you’ve been missing.
But Lydia has a word of warning – choosing to quit is something that has to come from you.
“Be clear on what you want,” she says. “Each time you walk away from something that isn’t helping you be your happiest, it’s a statement that says: ‘I am worth more’, ‘I want a better life’ or: ‘I want to be happier’.
“Quite often this is powerful enough to allow what it is you really want in life to find its way to you. The job you love can’t come to you while you stay in the job you hate.”
WALK THE WALK
Now you’re confident in and empowered by your decision, it’s time to do the deed. But, as with any step in the quitting process, it’s important to take this final hurdle carefully.
“Don’t quit on a whim or in the heat of an argument,” says André. “You need to feel in control of the process. It’s emotional, but it needs to be planned and managed.”
Prepare what you’re going to say in advance, and before coming face-to-face with your partner or boss, take a few deep breaths.
Rather than dwelling on all the things your partner did wrong, or how much your boss drove you mad, focus on explaining why your decision is a positive step for you. Steering clear of the blame game can help avoid any residual bad feelings.
And in the wake of your life-changing step, be prepared for an attack of regret, André warns. “Write down three reasons why you quit, and remember these whenever you feel anxious, lost or doubt your decision later on.”
So go on, what are you waiting for? Let’s see what happiness really feels like!