Quitting: Sometimes Hard but Necessary

Quitting is hard. But sometimes it is the right move. It’s hard to quit and easy to just keep going. There’s comfort in doing what you’ve always done. Maybe it’s sticking with a losing position that you’ve held forever. Or with an activity or at a job. Or a relationship. It’s hard, but sometimes you just gotta let go. You just need to quit.

Banal but true: Our time and energy are finite. As Ben Horowitz at a16z is fond of saying, “What you do is who you are.” You’ve heard many times that it’s not just about yes– but also about saying no. It’s important to decline opportunities we’re only lukewarm about so we can keep our cycles open and our time/energy/money readily available for when something does come along that makes us say, “Hell yeah!”

In that vein, when we do tether our carriage to the wrong horse (a job, relationship, city, etc), cutting your losses is paramount. Otherwise, you’re just cheating future-you out of time, energy, and resources.

One of my favorite quotes on this topic comes from Horowitz; when asked what a junior employee should do at a company they’ve just joined but don’t fit in culturally, Horowitz’s advice was: “Quit.” He goes on to explain that as a junior new-hire, you won’t be able to change culture at a company. That’s something that can really only be driven top-down, from the executive level. For example, if the CEO is always arriving late to meetings, it’s likely punctuality simply isn’t valued at the company. And as a junior new-hire, the new kid on the block, any effort you expend to remedy that will most likely just be Sisyphean.

So if you’re not fitting in, just recognize you’d joined in error and it’s time to abandon ship and board another. There are many ships in the sea– surely, one will make you happy and better help you grow.