Knowing When It’s Time to Quit

Posted by on Oct 5, 2013 in ComLead, Organizational Leadership

Knowing When It’s Time to Quit

Marina Shifrin’s interpretive dance resignation video hit the internet with a storm this week. In it she explains she’s quitting Next Media Animation in Taipei, “an awesome company,” because her boss only cares about quantity of videos and views.

Marina’s opinion didn’t align with her boss’s, and so she decided to quit.

If the YouTube comments are any indication, many of us are living vicariously through Marina’s video. Forbes recently found that 2 million Americans quit their jobs each month, even in our current unstable economy. Forbes has found that “74% of people would today consider finding a new job” and “32% are actively looking.”

So why do so many stay in jobs where they dissatisfied? Economists Steven Dubner and Steve Levitt explains it in terms of “sunk cost” versus “opportunity cost.” In an early Freakonimics Radio podcast, Dubner explains how we weigh the time we’ve already sunk into a commitment against all the potential opportunities we pass up by staying. It’s easy to get caught up in the sunk cost fallacy: believing you shouldn’t quit something because you have already invested so much time and energy into it. For some, it’s worth staying in a job simply for that reason.

In the same Freakonomics story, Levitt, who has happily looks back on many instances of quitting, explains, “You make choices without a lot of information. Then you get more information, and quitting is often the right thing to do.”

For Marina Shifrin, who believed video quality is more important than quantity, it took almost two years to realize her beliefs don’t align with the company. Leadership literature today supports her choice too – agreeing that we do the best work in jobs where we can be our authentic selves.

Have you ever quit something – or dreamed of it? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below!

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