To Quit or Not to Quit


I don’t like to quit groups. Once I’ve joined, it just seems wrong to give up and walk away. I also don’t like to be part of groups that I do not enjoy. That is a waste of my time.

These two preferences create uncomfortable consequences in my life. First, I don’t easily join groups because I’m afraid I may not like them and later have to quit. The second is that I stick with groups longer than my heart and brain tell me makes sense.

One time my wife and I joined a group that was working on housing issues. Although there were early signs of trouble, we continued to justify our participation on the team.

Finally, it became obvious we no longer wanted to be part of this project. Still, making the decision wasn’t easy. The arguments for staying included the importance of the issue and the bond we felt with our teammates. The arguments for leaving included our loss of interest and our lack of optimism about the results. We finally decided to resign from the team.

So why is quitting difficult? Why does there seem to be such negative attitudes about it? Imagine the upside if quitting was more socially acceptable.

  • We could explore new interests without as much risk.
  • We would all be happier, since we wouldn’t feel stuck in bad situations.
  • Our energy and commitment levels would rise, as we were only working on projects to which we were committed.
  • Teams wouldn’t have to deal with people who have quit but haven’t left.

We all have limited time and energy. Quitting can be a useful strategy to keep from wasting it.

By Tom LaForce

Tom LaForce owns LaForce Teamwork Services, a Minneapolis-based consulting company. He's on a mission to create better results through teamwork. He wrote Meeting Hero: Plan and Lead Engaging, Productive Meetings.