To Quit or Not to Quit…That is The Question

I recently stumbled across a quote that I can’t attribute to anyone since I read it on a random meme online. The quote read, “Life has two rules: #1 Never quit #2 Always remember rule #1.” My reaction? I call bull.  Maybe if the moron who said this out loud would have qualified the statement by referencing a specific sport or other competitive activity, I could go along with this idiotic line of thinking, but that’s not the case, so again, I call bull.  I mean, sure, I’m not suggesting that little Johnny or Jennifer should quit competing against an opponent in their chosen sport simply because they are losing or because they aren’t getting their way, but let’s look at this within the broader context of adulthood.


But first, think back to your childhood:  How many times can you recall being told that only losers quit? Once? A dozen? As an adult, how many times have you reinforced that notion to a child, or anyone, for that matter? Then, we have the nerve to question why people stay in bad relationships or toxic workplaces. Could it be that the social stigma of quitting has interfered with our ability to exercise better judgment and to honor our sense of self-worth? Allow me to be the voice of reason: I’m here to tell you that it is absolutely okay to quit!  The good news is, I’m not the only one who feels that way.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2.7 million U.S. employees voluntarily quit their jobs in July 2015 and that number has been consistent for each of the last 11 months. Rather than delve into a comprehensive breakdown of quits by industry, or even demographics, suffice it to say that 2.7 million employees is a hell of a lot of losers if we are sticking to the school of thought that only losers quit. Surely, some percentage of those losers was justified in their decision, right? Before we go further, let’s agree to refrain from calling them losers and dispel the myth that only losers quit.

Years ago, I worked in a mid-size law firm downtown Seattle, Washington. I was attending the University of Washington and was considering the possibility of law school next. Several friends and family members encouraged me to explore law as a career. I worked as an attorney assistant in the intellectual property department supporting three of the firm’s 20+ attorneys.  Let me be very clear: this was by far the most boring, ridiculously mundane position I’ve ever held. I quickly realized that law, specifically patent, trademark, and copyright wasn’t my thing. You’ve probably guessed by now that I quit that job. I later discovered that the only reason my friends and family suggested law as a career is because I like to argue. Go figure. The point is that quitting that job was the only logical course of action unless I was willing to miserable every day.

Let’s examine, in my opinion, the top reasons people quit their jobs, shall we?

  • It’s okay to quit when staying on the current path is mentally and/or physically harmful to you or another human being.
  • It’s okay to quit when your existing course of action is producing results opposite of the desired outcome.
  • It’s okay to quit when the opportunity cost of continuing negates the perceived benefit to be gained.
  • It’s okay to quit when the original purpose for beginning is no longer present.
  • It’s okay to quit when you determine that your unique talents and skills are not suited for the role you are in.

As a former freelance headhunter in the technology industry, I have direct contact with hundreds of jobseekers that reach out to me to express their desire to change employers. The two most common reasons or complaints I hear is that they hate their boss or don’t feel valued as a team member. Compensation is typically a close third.

The idea that it is somehow honorable or noble to remain in a job, that for whatever reason, no longer serves you is absurd. With advances in technology and new job openings on the rise, it is easier than ever to search for new job opportunities. You can literally search, identify, and apply for jobs from your smartphone.

Believe it or not, you can even quit from your smartphone! I’m not saying I recommend it, but if you are considering seeking new employment, you should absolutely take a look at the Quit Your Job app. If nothing else, it’s a fun and comical way to approach your situation. The app guides users through a series of questions and allows you to select who should receive your resignation via text. Then, it goes on to produce a cleverly composed message of your reason for quitting.

App Quit Your Job

One sample text reads, “Annie, I always thought meeting the owner of my company would be an inspiring event.  I finally did today, and it was indeed inspiring. Have you ever met the owner of this company? It’s like talking to a door.  A door that had issues buttoning its shirt this morning and decided the ‘uneven buttons look’ was good enough.  It made me realize that if the idiot owner of this dysfunctional company can start and run a business, so can I.  So I quit.  I don’t know what I’ll do yet, but it’s better than this.  I bet there’s an untapped market of freshly disillusioned workers.  I’m gonna look into that.”

Yeah, I’m thinking using this app couldn’t possibly be conducive to one’s future employability… Just saying. In fact, I might reconsider my opinion on quitters being losers if I knew that someone actually used this app to resign from a job. I must admit, I would laugh a little first. It’s okay to quit, but you don’t (and shouldn’t) have to be a smart-aleck about it.

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