Quitting is for winners

May 14, 2010 in Career,Philosophy

Graduation Day

I’m a big believer in quitting. To me, if I’m choosing to do something that doesn’t make me happy, then why would I continue? To many, this comes off as spoiled, idealistic or perhaps selfish. I prefer to think of it as proactive. Why stay in a situation and complain when I can do something about it?

I’ve quit unhealthy relationships, toxic friendships and a collegiate lacrosse team that just stopped being fun–and isn’t fun the whole point of recreational sports? I’ve also quit jobs: bagging groceries at a grocery store when I moved away to college, making sandwiches after constantly being scheduled to work when I had class, and most recently, a position that kept me in a cubicle all day.

I recently read an article in Marie Claire about the career burnout Generation Y is experiencing. According to the article, “Gen Yers are ditching the corporate world to launch their own businesses (or work for themselves) at a much faster rate than their Gen X predecessors.” The main complaint of the millennials? Careers that impinge upon their personal lives.

Apparently I’m not the only one who is OK with quitting. Gen Yers value a healthy balance among work, play and civic service. We also want to be empowered and engaged, to feel as if the work we do makes a difference. We’re willing to leave behind a job that just doesn’t do it for us, with the idealistic hope that we can find a position that fulfills something within us and the world.

I’ve never been willing to accept that I need to give up my life and my individuality to be successful. I work extremely hard to produce quality work efficiently, whether it be a college paper, a press release or a blog post. I’ve never aspired to work 12-hour days in order to buy a show-offy designer purse, take a rush-cation to Vegas, or just stockpile money in the bank.

It’s reassuring to know that I’m not the only one who is willing to quit the lifestyle that society accepts for something a bit riskier. Career breaking is common among travel bloggers, while others opt for the more lucrative digital nomad lifestyle. Are we quitting because we can’t handle the pressures of a successful career, as the term burnout implies? Or are we simply fusing our passions and talents to create a satisfying work-life balance? I prefer to think that we’re doing the latter.

Tim Ferriss put it extremely well in The Four-Hour Workweek: the point isn’t to have a million dollars in the bank. The point should be to live a life that you enjoy.

  • magicant

    Congrats to Gen Y on figuring this out long before I did (and most never do).

    Can I be an honorary Gen Y-er?

  • http://www.twitter.com/graceb123 grace b

    I agree with you Christine. In high school I transferred from a suburban high school to a tiny private high school. One of the things I could NEVER wrap my head around was why my classmates were slaving day after day to get good grades–staying up until 2 am to read those last 40 pages of our assigned english novel. I also was one of the two or three people in my graduating class (um, of forty kids…) who actually had a job and had to balance that with school. It meant I was less involved on campus and did my homework early in the morning or during the school day–but I was SO much less stressed than the kids who went to sports practice, came home and did six or seven hours of homework. So yea, I'd say that knowing what is best for you will help you work better with others and in society. SO WHAT if we aren't working the 40-hour or 60-hour week for the next twenty years!?

  • camorose

    Absolutely. Gen Y is totally a state of mind :)

  • camorose

    My way of thinking is always work smarter, not harder. Thanks for reading!

  • adventurouskate

    I've had a really hard time discussing this concept with my dad — he's definitely the old school job-family-house-work till ya die mindset. He thinks I'll have nothing in my life except for memories of travel…but, you know what? I don't want to buy a condo around here. Massachusetts is abominably expensive, and to stay here is to LOSE a ton of money. If I did that, I'd be stuck in the highest paying job I could find.

    The thing is, with today's technology, we can do anything for work. From anywhere. Anyone can own a business!

    That's my ultimate goal…digital nomad!

  • camorose

    That's what I love about writing/blogging: it's totally doable as long as you have a computer and an Internet connection. Now I just have to find a way to make it pay for my lifestyle…
    And I think I'd totally rather have cool memories of travel instead of a condo :)

  • http://twenty-somethingtravel.com Stephanie

    I was having this conversation recently with a friend who is considering a career change. “I've already put two years in this field, it seems silly to quit now.” I told him what's silly is to stick on a path you hate just for the sake of it. Quitting is NOT a bad thing, it can be a really healthy thing if it leads you somewhere better.

    And thanks for pointing out that just because Gen-Yers are struggling for happiness and work/life balance doesn't mean we don't work damn hard!

  • http://twitter.com/gillianbcn Gillian Clow

    Love this post! Living in the moment is something that can be SO hard for people to do, but it's something I think is so important to try and do.

  • camorose

    Exactly! I've never understood the mentality of “sticking it out” if you don't really have to. Life is short. Be happy, already!
    I think Gen Y gets a bad rap, but in my opinion, we want to work smarter, not harder. We want to use technology to make life easier and we want to do more than slave away at the same job our entire lives. I'm very proud of our generation :)

  • camorose

    Definitely–it's hard but worth it! Glad you enjoyed it :)

  • Katelyn

    You're just great :) I LOVE this post. If I'm not happy doing what I'm doing, then to hell with it! This puts a lot of things into perspective for me…so THANKS! P.S. we need to Skype soon, I miss you toooooo much!

  • camorose

    Yay totally glad it helped! And yes, let's totally set up a Skype date–just let me know what works for you! ps have fun in SLO–bummed we never made it down there together!

  • ottsworld

    Congrats on being a quitter!!! Career Breakers always win in the long run!

  • http://www.baconismagic.ca Ayngelina

    I'm too old technically for generation Y but I share your thoughts. I've never aspred to work 12 hour days to become a president of a company. I just want to make enough money to live a good life, oh and take a year off to travel every once in a while :)

  • http://twitter.com/HavePack Jeff Patch

    Quitting is DEFINITELY for winners and I'm competing to win. I only have a few more months before my side business becomes my full-time business.

  • camorose

    Aww thanks! I definitely agree :)

  • camorose

    Exactly! As long as I have enough money to travel–even if it's in hostels and I'm grabbing street food, I'm happy :)

  • camorose

    So awesome! I just need to figure out a side business to turn into a full business–although for right now, I guess I'll just focus on writing and waitressing :)

  • thebockster

    great post!! i think quitting is great when you don't like something- nicely put! i am a sucker for punishment and “life lessons” (thanks, tv sitcoms!) so i tend to stick things out for the most part when i feel like i could learn something from that. and when i do, i stay faaar away from it! i do remember quitting synchronized swimming after realizing that i couldn't float ;)

  • http://theresnoplacelikeoz.com Heather

    Always nice to meet more career breakers!! Found your article through a RT on Twitter :-)

  • http://twitter.com/OverYonderlust Erica Kuschel

    You just spoke to my heart. I have had this discussion with my husband so many times. I think at this point we are seriously considering opening up our own travel business here in Austin. Lucky us the local business scene here is strong and bands together.

    I am so glad you wrote this – its phenomenal. I'm currently trying to flee my cubicle job so I can find something more meaningful – even if its just having a conversation with someone that needs it. Why can't we create meaning in our own lives. I think its important, not narcissistic.

  • http://www.joliejamie.blogspot.com Jamie

    This is a wonderful post! Just found your site through BK Nomad. I'm leaving my job in September to live in France. I can't wait & I can't wait to read more of your blog!!

    xx
    Jamie
    http://www.joliejamie.blogspot.com

  • camorose

    So great! I just read about you on The Aussie Nomad–I'll be sure to stick you in my RSS to follow your adventures down under!

  • camorose

    That's so great to hear! Quitting can be a really hard step to take, but sometimes it's necessary to take the risk to get a huge reward! Life is short, we should definitely be trying to make it as fulfilling as possible. Keep me updated on the business plans!

  • camorose

    Thanks–I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Where will you be in France? That's such exciting news–always a good choice to head over here :)

  • http://expatriare.blogspot.com Katya

    I just graduated from college less than a year ago and I havn't even held a “real” job because of this fantastic economy. The more I think about it the less I seem attracted to the idea and am looking at the idea of having my own travel blog/ portable photography business. Thanks for posting this!

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  • camorose

    That seems to be the thinking for more and more of our generation. Good luck with everything–keep me updated on how it goes!

  • raquel

    love this!!

    in an unrelated note, i've been trying to comment on all your previous entries with no success… maybe your blog doesn't like me?

  • camorose

    Hmmm… I don't like the sound of that! Try signing up for a Disqus account, it's super easy and it *should* make commenting easier. But I'm glad you're reading and I'll cross my fingers that my blog starts liking you as much as I do!

  • StephD87

    Christine!

    I love your blog, especially this post!! It sounds like you are doing amazing things! Congrats!

    I quit one internship for another and it was totally worth it. Even though I had my own office at this start-up company it just was not worth my time, every task I was assigned was not in the job description at all! So quitting was the best decision and now I'm totally loving interning at the news station in Chico with hopes of being a reporter some day! Yes I crossed over to the other side of journalism, but I do think I'll be back on the PR side one of these days!

    Oh, I'm also trying to start a fitness blog.. I'm using wordpress but it seems so confusing. What site did you use to make this one?

    Anyways, goodluck!! you are awesome!

  • camorose

    Awww thanks Steph! You are so perfect for broadcast, I know you are going to be amazing!
    I'm on the WordPress Thesis theme–but it can definitely get a bit confusing. If you're interested, shoot me an email and I can tell you about some of the developers I worked with and/or give you a few tips :)

  • http://travelsofadam.com Adam

    Okay, I totally agree with the sentiment. If you're unhappy in a position (job, relationship, whatever), you are the only one who can change it—whether that's improving it or leaving it behind. I think this is one of the hardest things for people to learn. It takes a lot of courage but as soon as people get it, it's hard to look back.

    I won't say anything about Tim Ferriss.

  • camorose

    I'm learning that there are two types of people: those who love Tim Ferris and those who hate him. While I'm not completely on the “automate your lifestyle” bandwagon, I do like the philosophy of enjoying your lifestyle instead of being tied down with work.
    Also, the travel blogging community continues to show me that once people “get it,” they rarely look back. It's so awesome to find a group of people that share that gungho attitude!

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  • http://vagabonderz.com Carlo Alcos

    I guess it all depends on the circumstances too. Quitting because something is too hard is not necessarily good. But when things stop making sense or aren’t relevant anymore, then yes, it’s totally healthy to take stock, reassess, and make changes.

    This is one of the major reasons why going back to school seems so wrong for me…because I know how fast things can change and how much they can change. It’s really hard to justify investing several years and several thousand dollars into something I might lose interest in. I think this is why there is a lot of unhappiness in the workplace. With the money and time spent acquiring a specialization, it’s really hard to just drop it, even if it’s making you unhappy. I prefer to just take life as it comes and try to roll with whatever is thrown at me.

    Change is hard and uncomfortable, but the rewards can be huge.

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  • http://runningthroughthisworld.com Jenna Vandenberg

    Thanks for your post! I’m quitting my job (which I love, incidently) next month to travel for a year. Your post cancels out at least some of the “are you an idiot” comments I’ve been getting.  

  • Anonymous

    Glad it helped! People are just jealous anyway :)

  • http://travelingphoblogwripher.blogspot.com/ Sarabell

    This is EXACTLY how I feel.
    I’m pretty sure we could be best friends who never see each other.

  • camorose

    Haha next time you’re in NYC–we’ll meet up!

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