Knowing When To Quit And When To Put In The Work

1 January 2024
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When you think about going to work, do you go through a sense of dread, or struggle to see yourself working there for a long time?

Wouldn’t you want your worst enemy to work there?

Do you often pursue goals but struggle to determine whether to keep going or choosing a different path?

Or do you feel overwhelmed by the many aspects of deciding whether to quit or continue working and don’t know where to start?

Well, by the end of this article, you will know when to quit and when to put in the work.

You will also have strategies to make your work more enjoyable and fulfilling, allowing you to navigate work related challenges with increased clarity.

Knowing When to Quit: Recognizing Warning Signs

Recognising warning signs is crucial when deciding when to quit.

Recognising them will help you assess whether it’s time to move on and explore new opportunities that better match your values and aspirations.

Let’s look at some of the most common signs.

A Lack of Progress or Fulfillment

When you, under a longer period, sense a lack of progress or fulfillment, it’s a sign to reevaluate if you are in the right place.

Reflection is necessary when you feel you’re not progressing towards your goals or finding fulfillment in your work.

Besides your current pursuits, are there any other paths that you find to bring you happiness and fulfillment?

Constant Feelings of Frustration or Burnout

The feelings of daily frustration or burnout often arise when we feel stuck or stagnant in our work.

Do you experience a sense of confinement or a lack of stimulation in your current job?

Are you yearning for more opportunities to strengthen and deepen your skills?

If so, start by asking:

What specific aspects of your current work situation result in you feeling constrained or lacking motivation?

Are you able to recognize any recurring patterns or shared themes?

What are some areas or skills you need to upgrade or build upon? How do these align with your long-term career goals?

Are there any projects in your present position that you could pursue for more progress and motivation?

If not, what steps can you take to seek new opportunities outside of your existing role?

By reflecting on these questions, you gain clarity on your current state and shift your focus to exploring strategies to create more fulfillment and progress in your professional life.

Misalignment with Personal Values and Goals

Is your current work aligned with your fundamental values and ideals?

If not, understanding this misalignment is important.

What are your core beliefs, principles, and long-term aspirations? How do your current work or goals align with them?

What is important to you in your work and future? Are there any aspects of your current work that contradict or go against these values?

What possibilities or opportunities do you envision for yourself?

Persistent Lack of Motivation or Enthusiasm

Do you often experience a consistent and ongoing absence of motivation or enthusiasm?

Are you struggling to find the drive and passion to pursue your goals and aspirations?

Do you feel like your energy and excitement levels are low, hindering your ability to engage and take part in activities that once brought you joy?

When faced with persistent demotivation and a lack of enthusiasm, it’s beneficial to explore various strategies and techniques to reignite your motivation or embark on a job hunt.

What factors or aspects of your current work or goals are contributing to your lack of motivation and enthusiasm?

Are there any patterns or common themes in the activities or tasks that once brought you joy but no longer do?

In the past, what strategies or techniques have you experimented with to reignite your motivation and passion?

To what extent were they successful? Can you explore an alternative approach?

Consistent Negative Feedback or Criticism

Repeated negative feedback suggests you’re in the wrong place or need to change your mindset.

When contemplating this, I find it helpful to adopt the following perspective: people rarely leave a satisfying marriage or job where they thrive and grow.

If you are not using your talents and skills to their full potential in your current profession, it’s time to explore other opportunities.

How can you use the negative feedback or criticism as an opportunity for growth and self-improvement?

Are there any specific areas or skills that you can focus on addressing the feedback or criticism?

If you understood their expectations and worked towards improving in those areas, would it influence your perception of your current job?

Feeling Stuck or Stagnant in Your Current Situation

The sensation of feeling trapped or unprogressive is like being caught in a never-ending loop.

Your comfort zone is a place for recovery and rest, not a permanent place to stay.

Don’t fear change; fear stagnation.

Perhaps it’s time to consider exploring new opportunities and broadening your horizons?

Recognizing this feeling and embracing it, instead of numbing yourself, empowers you to take the steps to break free from your current state.

What specific aspects of your current situation make you feel stuck or stagnant? Are there any patterns or common themes?

What opportunities or areas for growth do you envision for yourself outside of your comfort zone?

What steps can you take to break free from your current situation and explore new opportunities and horizons?

Difficulty in Visualizing a Clear Path or Future in Your Current Pursuit

Sometimes, our habits and familiarity make it difficult to perceive an obvious path or envision a different future.

This makes us feel lost or unsure, so we stick to what we know.

Having a sense of purpose and direction leads to greater satisfaction and fulfillment in both work and life.

What steps can you take to gain a clearer understanding of the path ahead?

Are there mentors or resources you can turn to for guidance?

What aspects of your current pursuit are causing feelings of uncertainty and frustration?

How can you break them down into smaller, manageable goals to create a clearer roadmap?

What is the ultimate outcome you desire for your current pursuit?

What specific actions can you implement today in order to make progress towards your desired direction and cultivate a sense of purpose and direction?

Evaluating Costs and Benefits

It’s crucial that you understand that quitting is not a sign of weakness, but as a calculated and strategic decision.

What you need to learn is to quit the right things and pursue things for the right reasons.

When considering whether to continue or quit, it is essential to assess the trade-offs and benefits.

Ask yourself:

Will giving up hinder or enhance my personal growth?

Are there are alternative paths that align better with my goals?

What skills would you be without if you gave up?

What skills are you going to miss out on if you keep going?

Determining When to Put in the Work

Passion and Purpose

Once you find a goal or project that aligns with your passion and purpose, the effort required becomes more manageable.

Ask yourself:

Does this endeavor resonate with my values and long-term aspirations?

Will the effort invested lead me closer to my desired lifestyle?

Would I still be doing this if money wasn’t a problem?

Embracing Challenges and Growth

In difficult times, we often find the strength to continue if we feel inspired, have the required skills, and support.

Determining whether to put in the work or quit, resilience plays a crucial role.

How can you cultivate inspiration and motivation during challenging times to keep pushing forward?

What specific skills or knowledge do you need to develop or gain in order to overcome obstacles and continue making progress?

Who do you rely on for support and guidance in tough situations?

Making the Work More Enjoyable

Look at how you are working.

What would an effortless version of it look like?

A question that has and still moves mountains for me is: “In which three specific areas can I make a 10% improvement to increase the enjoyment in my work?”

If you implement these changes in three specific areas, not only will you experience a 30% increase in pleasure, but you will also enjoy the additional benefits of the compound effect that comes along with it.

When you create an intention and combine it with an action, you look for it in everything you do.

If you’ve ever purchased a new car, you’ve noticed that you see the same car everywhere.

This phenomenon is also called the frequency illusion, is a cognitive bias that affects how we think and process information.

The frequency illusion occurs when something you’ve noticed appears to be everywhere, creating the perception that it is more common than it is.

If you make your work more enjoyable, you will not only find it more pleasant, but also unlock your innate motivation.

To create intrinsic motivation, set meaningful goals that align with your values. Plan based on actions, not goals.

Let’s break it down:

Create an Action-oriented life focuses on breaking down goals into smaller, actionable steps or tasks.

Identifying the specific actions needed helps to make the overall goal more attainable and less intimidating.

Change your perspective from focusing on the outcome to valuing the process and the actions you engage in along the way in order to shift your mindset.

This reduces anxiety and stress associated with the uncertainty of achieving a specific outcome.

Builds momentum by taking consistent actions creates a sense of progress and momentum.

This will encourage you to observe the measurable achievements of your endeavors, even if they are incremental progress towards a larger aim.

Embrace adaptability.

Change your approach and actions without seeing it as failure.

Even though you have an obvious goal, stay open-minded and flexible in your actions, accepting feedback, changing circumstances, or new information as a tool for change.

Focus on what you control. Your goals can be affected by external factors that come into play.

Directing your attention and energy toward things you control will increase your sense of agency.

Cultivates habits that lead to action.

Action-based habits and processes create a foundation for sustained progress.

Instead of setting a broad goal like “lose 20 pounds,” an action-oriented plan will involve specific actions, such as exercising for 15 minutes each day. Reducing calorie intake and drinking more water.

While losing 20 pounds in the future is uncertain, the daily dedication to taking small steps forward is a more attainable goal.

Embracing an action-oriented lifestyle not only makes the goal more attainable, but also provides a well-defined roadmap with clear milestones and checkpoints.

It helps you stay organized, track, measure, and evaluate progress, which means you tackle challenges more effectively.

Incorporate Play and Creativity Into Your Work

Adding play and creativity to your work is vital for increasing both enjoyment and productivity.

Step out of your comfort zone and explore innovative methods and alternative solutions when faced with challenges.

Embrace a mindset of curiosity and innovation.

Take Regular Breaks and Engage in Mind-Rejuvenating Activities:

Understand that breaks are not a waste of time, but an investment in your overall productivity.

Step away from your work and engage in activities that relax and recharge your mind.

Consider going for a walk, practicing mindfulness or meditation, or engaging in a hobby that brings you joy.

These activities help clear your mind and stimulate creativity.

Remember, incorporating play and creativity into your work is not about being frivolous or unprofessional, but about fostering an environment that encourages innovation, problem-solving, and personal growth.

Embrace the power of play and watch as your work transforms with newfound creativity!

Final Thoughts

You will spend a large part of your life on work-related tasks.

Rather than something to endure, this period is an opportunity for personal growth and development.

Work offers a unique chance to connect with yourself and others on a deeper level.

It allows for meaningful interactions and the creation of strong bonds.

Being able to tell when it’s time to move on from a job is about mastering the skill of weighing benefits and drawbacks.

In order to stay for a longer period and thrive, it is crucial to focus on making the work itself more enjoyable and fulfilling.

Once you’ve mastered these two skills, you’ll be able to handle your work life with more clarity and satisfaction, making it a more fulfilling and rewarding experience.


Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World,” by Cal Newport

“Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance,” by Angela Duckworth –

“Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,” by Carol S. Dweck

“Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us,” by Daniel H. Pink

Research Papers and Studies

Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117(3), 497–529.(

Duckworth, A. L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M. D., & Kelly, D. R. (2007). Grit: Perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92(6), 1087–1101.(

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