Life is a roller coaster. When I’m at the top and things are going well, it’s easy to have a good attitude and do my best. When I’m at the bottom it’s easy to make excuses for a bad attitude or poor performance. If it’s a sustained down period I start to question: is this the right place for me, the right person for me, the right job for me? I keep asking these questions over and over until I face these choices:
- Fall into a rut and blame circumstances
- Quit and move on
- Put in the work anyway
I have to admit that numbers one and two are pretty appealing to me and I have chosen them. I have a tough time with commitment. They are the easy way out. Sometimes I have chosen those paths before and things have worked out. Lately though I wonder…
- What am I missing out on by not choosing number three?
- Do I want to keep moving on?
- What if the issue is me?
Despite choosing it from time-to-time, I know by choosing number one I short-change myself. If Mitch isn’t following through on his commitments, most wouldn’t blame me for cutting corners on mine. We all know how that ends. If I don’t agree with a decision at work, I could (and have) used that as an excuse for my lack of performance. At the end of the day I have to look myself in the mirror, and I know whether or not I did my best. I’m the one who has to live with that…well, and I have to answer to God as to why I didn’t use the time and skills He gave me to the best of my abilities. Yikes. Nope, number one is not a choice for me (Note: I need you to hold me accountable to this because I am human and will slip back to this place pretty easily).
Sometimes choosing number two, to quit and move on, is the best choice. But how do you know? No really, I’m asking…because I have no idea. When I’m grappling with whether or not to quit, I revisit why I made the decision and commitment in the first place. Do those reasons still stand true? Sometimes that’s enough to help me re-center, re-focus, and re-introduce my best self despite the circumstances. Next I consider why I want to quit. Because it’s hard? Not good enough…we’re all better than that. Because values aren’t aligned? Pretty good reason, I just have to make sure that’s really true and not just an excuse to quit. I also like to ponder two key questions mentors have taught me:
- Am I running away from something or running toward something?
- Am I 100% sure I have given it my best and everything I have?
When we run away from things, our problems follow us into that next relationship or next job. When we run away, we don’t learn the good lessons those experiences can teach us that make us stronger and more resilient…the lessons that are foundational to future success.
When we quit before we have given it 100% and everything we have, how can we be sure that it won’t work out? How do we know it’s not something we need to change about ourself? Having quit or given up to early or too easily, my advice would be don’t move on until you can look yourself and God in the face and say you have given it your all…that’s how regret creeps into your life.
When we put in the work despite tough circumstances, we are doing what we were put here to do. That’s the work we can be most proud of. I loved this sentiment from a recent Daily Stoic email. Marcus Aurelius wrote to himself that it’s possible to live a good life anywhere…not easy, but possible. Certain days I could read that and call bull…but he may be onto something. In all seasons of life there will be opportunities, temptations, frustrations and stresses. What matters is how you act and how you respond.
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re a janitor or a senator. It doesn’t matter whether you’re negotiating a multi-million dollar deal or negotiating traffic on the way to your unpaid internship. What matters is what you do with this time. What matters is how you manage it.”
Do your work and live your life worthy of your name. Or even better, worthy of God’s.