Pat Benatar, Jerry McGuire and several personal development authors weigh in on this Thursday’s quitting topic. 

Ever see the movie “Jerry McGuire”? Let’s hope this doesn’t morph into the sort of mission statement/credo that he unfortunately writes when he’s exhausted and ultimately ends up costing him his job. Not that I think I’ll get fired from my own blog but who wants to hear a mission statement, right? I’ve always thought they were sort of b.s. but here goes anyway.

This week’s quitting has a lot to do with what Tom Cruise’s character did in that movie, I can’t lie about that. It has a lot to do with on the one hand screaming “Treat me right” ala Pat Benatar and philosophically asking whose life is it anyway on the other. If you throw in some good ‘ol Nebraska sense of responsibility and Irish guilt then you’ve got an idea of the mine field I’ll try and navigate when I try to quit allowing other people to direct what I do. The dilemma also comes back a bit to people pleasing; that sense of “if I can help, I should” and truly wanting to be a good person (who’d a thunk that could be a liability, huh?). It’s the question of “Where do you draw the line?” that I think a lot of us struggle with every day.

Case in point, my day job: What do you do and what do you delegate? In the beginning as a manager I wanted to show those I led that I didn’t think I was above doing the work. I wanted to show them that we were in this together. So I did everything that they did. Then, I got told that I shouldn’t do those things by my boss. His logic was sound business. “I’m not paying you what I’m paying you, to do work that we pay someone half of what you are paid, to do” (Or something along those lines) That made sense to me so I stopped doing some things; but not all of them, or at least not all of the time, which is inconsistent (I know). And inconsistency is bad. So… hello balancing act right?

The problem is my balance is not your balance, or her balance or his balance. Truth is we’re all trying to balance and hold it all together and no one likes someone who can’t be counted on to come through on their promises or responsibilities however we perceive them. And yet, allowing others ownership of what you do makes you walk their line ultimately. And now Johnny Cash is rolling through my mind. (It might be a self-preservation thing. My melon starts to hurt when I think too hard) In an effort to make your head not hurt so much you might try and simplify this down to just saying no but that ignores what I think is one of life’s basic tenets: to help if you’re able. The fact remains, it’s true what Cal Newport said in his book Deep Work. If I tell you yes, I have to tell someone else (probably myself) no. I don’t want to seem self-serving or self-absorbed or self-centered but this week’s quitting has everything to do with acknowledging that there are some things that I want to accomplish here and when I say “here” I mean while I’m alive on this rock. There are some things I want to get done and there is only so much time to do them.

We all have the same 24 hours every day and what this gets down to is “How are you going to use them?” Who is going to direct them? Over the past umpteen (never thought I’d work that colloquialism into a sentence) months I’ve been trying to get a handle on what it is that I should be doing with my time. I’m getting closer but I’m probably not quite there yet. I did a Life Plan as a part of Michael Hyatt’s book Living Forward and that was good. Involved, but good. One of the book’s key takeaways for me was that you need to determine what the important things are, where you’re at with them and where you want them to be. Then (and here’s the tricky part) remind yourself periodically how you’re doing and what they are so that everything you do passes muster on getting you where you want to go in the things that matter most to you. I’ll admit it all seems very complex and not entirely inline philosophically with my desire to live my life organically.

You see, I really do hate planning. I hate scheduling and I hate having to figure out where I’m going to be and what I’m going to be doing every minute of every day. It’s sort of that hippie-idealism that a past supervisor said I had that would forever keep me dissatisfied. That said I’ve come to the conclusion that there are some absolutes. For me, prayer in the morning as I drive to work (no, I don’t close my eyes because hello, driving!) is an absolute. Even before that, first thing in the morning there’s this, this writing thing from 5-7:00 a.m. Beyond that, further into the day of course is the job from 8-5 (and the aforementioned decisions about what and how much to do and for whom). If that weren’t gnarly enough then there’s essentially the five hours after work until bedtime during which there ought to be something along the exercise line because, well, fatness. Then there’s family and spouse and stuff around the house and on and on and on. Sound familiar? It’s a far cry from organic and simplicity doesn’t even get in the picture.

I keep going back to something the authors of The Four Disciplines of Execution said in their book. Complex is easy. Simple is hard. I think before I read that and the rest of their book (which was very worthwhile, by the way) I knew that to be true. That’s why it’s vital that we develop and figure out what is important and then stick to it. So again, as I wrap this up and Miss Benatar screeches in my head, “Treat me right. Open your eyes, maybe you’ll see the light” I realize if I don’t quit letting others have ownership of what I do in this life and determine what’s important to me I’ll never see the light. It’s not that other people have anything sinister in store for me they just aren’t aware of my Life Plan (They wouldn’t read it anyway, even if I gave it to them because, well, Jerry McGuire).

Don’t worry, I didn’t actually do that.


Well, I said this would be thorny and I was right about that. I’m sure I’ll have follow-ups to report on this one as an ongoing “quitting”. If this has made you think or you have any advice (good or otherwise) please comment below. Maybe someone you know might like this or get something out of it? If so, please share it with them. The social icons are down there too. 

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