To Stay or Leave: How to Know (Exactly) When to Quit

It has been said "quitters never win. And winners never quit". Yet, there’s no point staying in a place where all you feel is just frustration.

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At some point in our life, we all have one of those days where it seems nothing goes right — especially at our job. Those days when you feel like a robot (not a human) and lost all your purpose in the first place. And you keep asking yourself “this is tough, should I quit my job now and make a new start or stay?”

Tired and feeling like giving up. I have been in these moments before and I bet you too. In fact, it’s very human to feel this way. There’s a stupid quote saying, “quitters never win. And winners never quit”. Why did I say that’s a bit of stupid advice? The reason is quite simple—there’s no point staying in a place where all you feel is just frustration, especially if you feel like you are capable of doing more than what you’re doing now. Apart from that, there’s a possibility that you will turn into a toxic in the organization.

This whole topic may sound very counterintuitive because people said it’s the mindset that we have to change. They say it’s not about the jobs, environment, managers, etc. But let’s face it, quitting gives room for change. It can bring you a fresh start and eventually leads you to be more alive, happier and productive. Even though, this is not always the case, quitting also helps you point to new ‘direction’ that you may never think before.

However, there are two sides to every coin. Quitting sometimes doesn’t help at all. There’s a big chance that you still have a miserable day and life even after you move on to what you called ‘the next stage’.

So how do we know the difference when to quit and when to stick? In The Dip, Seth Godin explains there are several easy signs that tell the difference:

Quit; The Dip or The Cul-De-Sac?

First thing first, know your motives and understand your current situation. Seth Godin says that you should understand whether the roadblock you’re facing is the Dip or the Cul-De-Sac.

The Dip is “a long slog between starting and mastery”. Which means it’s worth doing and you shouldn’t quit at this stage. The Dip is a moment when you visualize that things you do now will be fruitful and align with your real purpose, mission, and goal. The Dip is also what separates the best in the world from everyone else.

On the other side, there’s a Cul-De-Sac which in French means “dead-end”. Godin says this is a situation where you work and work and work but nothing much changes. This is the moment when you treat your job merely only as a job. The time when you own the ‘employee’ mindset and just go with the flow.

If you’re still not sure which ones you are facing now, maybe you can try to answer some of these questions:

  • Am I getting something good out of this experience (and from my boss)?
  • Is there any potential of me being the best in the field? Or simply, do I get any transferable skills that can help me achieve my future goal?
  • Do I feel more energized, content, and accomplished when I finish the task?

If you say “hell, yeah” to any of the above, then that’s probably the Dip. Once you feel that it is the direction that you want to pursue, then you should keep going even if the odds aren’t in your favor yet.

Be Exceptional or Quit

When you find yourself at the crossroads, you only have two choices whether to continue and be exceptional or quit. Don’t be the average and stop being just ‘survive’.

When you realize you’re at Cul-De-Sac, or in the moment you realize the journey is not worth it, I suggest you quit now. Don’t be toxic in the organization. Don’t wait until you’re ‘ready’ because you’re not just wasting your time & energy, but also the resources around you.

Be smart about your choice. Quitting is not equal to failing anyway. If quitting can lead you to another awesome direction, then why not?

Yet, if deep down yourself you can visualize that the journey is worth it and you have the potential to be great at it, then don’t quit just because you’re having the stress of the moment.

We’re all have different motivations at work, yet you have to understand that feeling tired, overworked, and stress are all actually normal. Those feelings will come and go no matter how much you truly love or passionate about your job. Your sense of purpose is eventually the key that keeps you move forward.


Godin, Seth. 2007. “The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick).” iBooks. 

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