08/13/2014 12:30 pm ET Updated Oct 13, 2014

I Want To Quit!


Exploring next career moves, doing a job search or starting a new endeavor like your own business are all daunting and often frustrating propositions. Many times you'll come up against a lack of results or clarity that dumps a heap of hopelessness on you in the from of "I want to quit!!" Should you?

To quit or not to quit? What do you think I'm going to say? No! Of course, you don't quit. Not yet anyway.

I always say: Life will tell you if you're wrong. You don't need to decide." Roadblocks, a lack of results, obstacles and setbacks -- those could all certainly be interpreted as life saying, "Give up." But maybe there's another message.

If you were running a race or working out at the gym and you experienced pain, you'd have the choice to stop or to work through it. Most athletes work through it being sensitive to the threshold where they'd cause major injury. The smart ones also know to build in recovery time in between the big competitions or work outs.

When it comes to your exploration or ramp-up, "pain" can mean, "Wait!" Just pull back, observe, divert your attention to something else to gain perspective and then re-engage. Taking your foot off the accelerator and coasting in neutral for a bit can go a long way to knowing whether to proceed and how to do so or whether to redirect your energies to something else altogether.

Maureen is Senior VP in the finance industry and she has been on a campaign to further her career. She knew it wasn't time to begin a job search but she did feel that strategizing a way to be better known and more valuable in her organization as well as her industry at large, was necessary to her future plans. She made a Herculean commitment to networking and even cold calling at an ambitious pace of several times a week. She was quite successful and then hit a wall. People weren't calling back at the same rate, the lunch meetings weren't happening and the pipeline was drying up. There was some harsh self-criticism, berating herself for quitting her pace, but we reframed that to allow herself some breathing room. In the open space, an opportunity appeared to be given larger responsibility along with greater exposure within her company. Succeeding at the new task would be a huge boost and resume-building highlight which would poise her for a promotion or better opportunity elsewhere.

Let's call what happened to Maureen the result of "focused in-action." She wasn't giving up but she was allowing a break to see what might emerge. In this case, an opportunity came up but you might find inspiration for a different strategy, the idea to call on someone else you may need to talk to or you may find a slight course correction.

The next time you want to quit, take a break instead. Allow some focused in-action and pick up within two to three weeks. If you go longer, it will become unfocused in-action and you could derail. If nothing emerges in your break, you may need to go back to drawing board. It's OK.Take a break.

Quit? Never. You may have to go a different way but keep your eye on the ultimate prize -- a satisfying line of work. It just may look different than you thought.