Your Time Is Up: When Calling It Quits Is The Right Thing To Do
When my friend walked into the café to meet with me the other day, she seemed to be radiating happiness. “I quit my job today,” she told me. “I just submitted my resignation letter.” I couldn’t believe it: my friend was successful- an executive director at one of Abu Dhabi’s leading government entities. I know more than a few people who are envious of her role, wishing that they too could do what she has managed to do. I was thus curious to know why she had chosen to quit- what had gotten into her head? She simply smiled and said, “It didn’t make me happy anymore. When I made that decision [to quit], I slept like I never had in a very long time.” While this seems quite silly to some of her close friends, I believe that reason is more than enough.
We hear similar stories all of the time. Just last week, another friend of mine quit her job to start her own business. Entrepreneurs quit working at what seem to be perfectly run businesses to start even more exciting ones, and there are tons of examples of this. Consider Muhammed Mekki, co-founder of the online retailer, namshi.com. He quit that successful venture and went on to co-found AstroLabs, the only Google tech hub in the MENA region, which also offers business licenses to its members- an enterprise that has been doing really well since it started.
Personally, I always believe in holding my ground and exhausting all options before calling it quits. That way, I leave no room for self-blame to creep in. Having that determination in life have helped me achieve many of my goals. Though maintaining that attitude is great in a lot of aspects in life, it’s not always good when it comes to managing your own business. Sometimes, it becomes emotionally draining, and it can even backfire. In fact, I learned that knowing when to quit is just as important as holding your ground. Not only will it save you the emotional drama, but it would also free up some mental space to focus on areas that really matter, the ones actually make you happy. After all, isn’t that the reason why you started a business- so that you spend your time working in something you are passionate about?
Let me give you an example closer to home. When I launched my marketing and branding consultancy a couple of years ago, our service offering was rather wide and we targeted a larger customer base. It was only after a year and few trials and errors that I discovered where my true strength lies. Now, our offering is a lot more targeted, and even though we might miss on reaching a wider audience, we’re comfortable knowing that with a more specific focus, we could excel greatly.
This thus brings us to the important question: how do you know when is the right to quit? Here are a few essential questions to ask yourself to determine when it is time to move on:
1. Are you happy? If it does not make you happy anymore, and is affecting your wellbeing, then it is time for you to evaluate matters. Do you feel excited when you wake up in the morning? This is the most important early indicator. When I started my business, I could not wait to wake up in the morning and go about my working day. I still feel the same, and that is a healthy sign. How do you feel about yours? Do you dread working on your business? There is your cue right there.
2. Are you needlessly aggressive? Another sign is when you find yourself being too hard on your employees. I want to make it clear that this is not when you are pushing your employees to excel. In fact, some of the best entrepreneurs out there are known to be tough. But when you find that everything that your employees do is irritating you, or when you are annoyed and you channel the frustration you feel towards them, then that is a cue for you to stop and think things through.
3. Are you losing your touch with clients? Are you getting outwardly frustrated with your customers? The customers are the most important element of your business. Without them, your business would cease to exist. So, if you have been acting out against them, and you no longer have the desire to address their needs/complaints, then you need to back up a bit. If you are not excited about satisfying or serving your customers -who are the backbone of your business- then what are you doing here anyway?
4. Are you healthy, mentally and physically? If your friends and family notice a change in your behavior and wellbeing, then that’s a warning sign as well. When it comes to health, a regular checkup is important to make sure all is as it should be. In business, it’s not that different, and early detection is extremely important and will help you avoid a problem that could spread out and affect your business, those who work with you, your family, and most importantly, your wellbeing.
If you spot any of the above symptoms in yourself, then pause and analyze matters. If it’s something that can be fixed by hiring more staff or changing a strategy, then go ahead and do it. If not, then you need to listen to that little voice in your head that tells you to quit and move on to something better, as painful as that may be. Sometimes, quitting something could be the best thing you can do for your happiness. Quitting is not always a bad thing. In fact, it could be the push you needed to start something more exciting.
Manar Alhinai is an Emirati journalist, author, and brand storyteller. She is the co-founder and Storyteller-in-Chief of Sekka and the director of the Khaleeji Art Museum. For the past 10 years, Manar worked with global and regional brands, to help them narrate their stories, and connect with their audience, using the art of storytelling.
She holds a master’s degree in Diversity Management from the University of Leeds, England. She pursued further degrees and certifications from SOAS London, University of Pennsylvania, Yale School of Management, and NorthWestern University.
Manar is the recipient of the Arab Woman Award in 2011 and 2020.