In March 2018 I was in the middle of an acting course and the familiar, uneasy feeling of wanting to quit moved into my body.
I’d just delivered my TEDx on Quitting, and so rather than beating myself up for once again wanting to leave a project, I got curious — what was happening here? WHY did I want to quit?
As I walked home from the tube that night two words came to me — ‘is it disinterest or discomfort?’
Disinterest would mean the topic wasn’t something I wanted to spend time on anymore. Simply moving on to new things, without too much heaviness.
But discomfort, that was sneakier — perhaps I REALLY wanted to do this course, but I’d hit a wall and was finding it hard…
These two words bounced off each other and I pretty much sprinted home, took pen to paper, and began to sketch out the model I’m sharing today.
Over the last 2.5 years this model has moved from being solely about quitting, to a more holistic temperature check for all our projects at any stage of the journey.
We naturally go through all the healthy states with any creative endeavour: if we expect the highs and lows, and use the model to regain balance, we are less likely to quit the projects we really care about. At the same time, noticing the warning signs early on for projects that no longer serve us stops us from blindly persevering, when our energy could be better used elsewhere.
This is a compassionate, self-led tool to help us understand ourselves better, get to know our quitting patterns, and ultimately help us spend more time focused on the stuff that matters.
Embody: Go through the 4 terms and feel where they are in your body.
What does it feel like for you when something is…
…. high interest?
…. low interest?
Do you notice any positive or negative connotations you add to them?
The 4 Healthy States
Inquiry: We all have biases too, of which healthy states are good and bad.
Ask yourself —
Which state(s) do you think you should be in?
Which do you avoid?
Which do you judge yourself for being in?
Which do you think you spend most of your time in?
The 4 Unhealthy States
REFLECTION: Look back over times where you have quit — do your reasons fit into one of those 4 categories?
For example if our start up has completely taken over, we might need to make time to do some really boring every day things — go for short walks, cook mindfully, sit on the sofa. Noticing that we’re in BURN OUT early enough means we can make changes to re-balance, but if we don’t notice then we might go into an enforced RESTORE, where we have no choice but to stop and deal with very mundane parts of our every day existence.
This means we need to learn to laugh at ourselves or remember the joy we felt when we started the project — whatever it takes to feel a little lighter. If this is not possible in the situation that’s affecting us, then we need to find this elsewhere — spend time with friends who makes us shriek with laughter, dance around the living room to 90s cheese, get on a bike and cycle into the sunset (or whatever your light relief is). Flow is whatever activity we do that can raise our vibrations and make us smile.
For example, starting a new project that really excites us or taking a skill to the next level. However, we need to be careful not to overshoot the mark, sign up for a million new courses and bypass GROWTH straight into BURN OUT…
We’ve got to do that thing we don’t want to do but we know is good for us. In Plateau with your love life? Go on a date. In Plateau with your fitness? Go for a run. It’s the thing that keeps coming back to haunt you and you just need to break through it.
Think of a project you’re currently working on. Is it High or Low Interest (roughly)? Is it High or Low Discomfort? Within that Quadrant is it more Healthy or Unhealthy? Mark it on the model.
Acknowledging where it is is the first step, and often can bring in a lot of relief just to name it.
How do you feel about being there? If you’re happy, that’s great!
If you don’t want to be there, or you feel like you’re on the edge of moving into an unhealthy state (eg. you’re in Growth but it feels like it’s almost Burn Out), then use the re-balancing technique to bring in another energy for a bit.
Remember — if you need more…
…GRIT — do the thing you don’t want to do, but know you need to
…GROWTH — take on the next challenge that excites you
…RESTORE — go and do some really mundane, easy things for the day and take the pressure off
…FLOW — go and have some fun or throw yourself into something that feels effortless — bring the energy up!
2. Check in with your whole life
Write down 5–10 things that currently are taking up time or energy in your life and plot them onto the QQ.
Look at the model — do you have a good balance across your life? Or is one area overcrowded?
If it’s overcrowded, consider which of the projects or commitments be moved into another part of the QQ, using the re-balancing tool. Or, can you take any of them off the model completely?
3. Knowing When to Quit
For more information please visit www.quittingquadrant.com
My Podcast ‘Knowing When to Quit’ is now live! Listen here
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