When is it time to call it quits? The signs, the fear and the moment to let go

A little bit of coaching in times of turmoil

Sometimes in life, you start a job – or a small creative business – and it is fantastic at the beginning. You are excited, it all is new, there is so much to learn! But then, one day, something starts to niggle. The spark is gone, cracks begin to appear. You hate to admit it, but your work and you are no longer aligned. You have outgrown each other. And unless the job or business grows with you, there will come a point when it all feels out of sync. That’s when we usually enter a time of turmoil and stress. Because, you know something’s got to change, but what – and how? And more often than not, we end up desperately holding on to things that no longer serve us, especially when there are emotions involved. We feel fear of the unknown, fear of looking stupid, fear of rocking the boat.

Today I am exploring a topic that most of us will encounter at least a few times in our lives: when to call it quits.

I am a very loyal person myself. And although I sometimes give off the impression that I am involved in many creative projects and ideas, and that I have no problem changing direction, I am not a quitter. When I truly don’t believe in something anymore, I will let go of it, but when it comes to something that I have invested time, love, effort and money in, it is a different matter. The best example of this is my vintage furniture shop, which I had in Scotland for four years. My first physical business, which I built up with blood, sweat and tears. I would not easily have given that up, if a fire hadn’t burnt it to the ground. That decision was taken for me, and although painful at the time, it opened up new opportunities that I wouldn’t have seen, had I continued. But I really should have been brave enough to call it quits myself. If the fire hadn’t stopped me, I would have burnt myself to the ground.



For some time, my subconscious mind had been sending me warning messages before the disaster struck (“Nina, it’s time for a change, Nina, things are not working out, Nina, this cannot go on like this”). But, as you know, our rational thinking is quick to dismiss these messages. So I kept going. Because I didn’t know how to quit, I was proud of what I had built up, and I still kind of enjoyed it, despite the fact that I had lost my initial spark, and my tank was empty.

But don’t we all just keep going, while deep down we know the truth? Don’t we all keep dragging ourselves forward, pretending all is OK, talking ourselves out of making the much needed change, because we believe the alternative is too scary?

Whether it is giving up your career, pivoting your business, or even deciding to separate from your partner, the thought of making that hard decision will likely give you a great big painful knot in your stomach. So you lie to yourself, saying “it is not that bad”, things will get better soon, other people have it much worse than you, and at least you have some kind of security. Right? But be honest: do you still feel any joy at all? Close your eyes for a second, and imagine what life would be like in a year’s time if you did make that change. If you no longer had to go to the job you hate, your business was completely aligned with your current values and dreams, and you had the clarity and freedom to make it happen?


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You are capable of so much more than you think

Of course, you feel anxiety around making such decisions. What if it all goes wrong? What if you give it all up, and you end up with nothing? What if you let people down? The truth is, you are a very capable person. Look at everything you have achieved in your life! The decisions you made before. You have always been able to adapt to new situations. Just because you quit something that no longer feels right, that doesn’t mean that you suddenly become paralysed, not knowing what to. You know exactly what to do. You are able to get organised, communicate, smooth things out, and build up a new network. Create new ideas and execute them. You can move mountains. But not when you keep yourself chained.

Your subconscious has been giving you signs now for how long? It is just a matter now of starting to listen, and trusting your intuition. Your gut feeling is always right.

Often, when we let go of all the burdens in our life that are holding us back, the cloud lifts and we see clearly what road to take. No, it is not necessarily going to be easy, but it will be your road, and you will be driving that car. Freedom and joy are going to be in the passenger’s seat. Vision and ambition are going to power up that vehicle. Can you feel it?


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When is the right time to change?

When is the right time to call it quits? There probably never is a right time. The only certainty I can give you, is that it is inevitable that there will be a moment when it happens. It is up to you whether you want to take matters into your own hands, or whether you leave it up to life to make the decision for you. A fire, in my case. In your case, it could end up becoming a burn-out, a conflict, an illness or a depression. If you are seeing the warning signs flickering on your dashboard, do you normally keep driving your car until you get stranded on the side of the road…somewhere in the dark….in the middle of nowhere? Or do you know what to do before it gets to that stage?

Change is hard. But change is also exciting. Life is a journey and an adventure! And today we have the power to choose between going forward or holding ourselves back.

I recently read a book by psychotherapist James Hollis, called ‘Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life’, in which he talks about these difficult crossroads in life:

“The daily confrontation with these gremlins of fear and lethargy obliges us to choose between anxiety and depression ….  Anxiety will be our companion if we risk the next stage of our journey, and depression our companion if we do not. Psychological or spiritual development always requires a greater capacity in us for the toleration of anxiety and ambiguity …. Faced with such a choice, choose anxiety and ambiguity, for they are developmental, always, while depression is regressive.”

You will know in your heart what to do. And there is never a perfect time. At a certain point, all you are doing is delaying the inevitable. And delay will bring dis-ease. Go and meditate today, do some journaling, or go on a long walk in nature, and ask yourself the question: what will I choose in the second half of my life? Will I choose joy? Or am I holding on to something out of fear? For fear we can overcome. And joy will follow.

You’ve got this.


I am here if you are ready to work 1-to-1 with me on your business. Book a free 30-minute call in my diary.

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