Sometimes it’s okay to be a quitter

I’m transitioning into my new role. I can’t possibly manage to do three jobs at once and be effective. I’ve hired an Office Manager (Alleluia!) who seems to be adjusting to her new role. I don’t have a lot of time to train her so I must graciously allow for the inevitable mistakes. I’d rather have someone who accepts general direction, tries and fails than have someone who sits passively waiting for detailed instructions from me.

Meanwhile, I’m still swamped. Every day is a juggling act with too many balls in the air, too many plates spinning, too many sharp objects in flight. Rapid decision-making and a willingness to let some things hit the ground are my new operating model. My inbox exploded last month. I’m copied on all sorts of e-mails, both relevant and irrelevant. There’s no need for me to read everything but I appreciate having the awareness of all of the activity underway to launch our latest product family. I’m developing the ability to quickly scan, assess and act.

I’m must spend (read “waste precious”) cycles cleaning up messes left behind by my company’s former administration. I have faith that things will settle down soon but meanwhile I’m learning some important lessons. One lesson is that sometimes it’s okay to walk away from things. Discretion is required to determine how much effort to put into a given situation. I have to ask myself, “how much should I invest in this given all that is competing for my attention?”

I recently found myself struggling to get through a book I’m reading for leisure with the intent to write a review. It never occurred to me to walk away with the remaining pages unturned. It took me weeks to read the first ~50 pages. Then this book sat (for more weeks) on the top of my stack of books to read. All progress stopped. After reading Michael Hyatt’s article on reading non-fiction I decided to write the review, including the disclosure “I never made it past the first 50 pages.” In the end, I decided I could devote enough time to scan through the rest of the book, looking for jewels buried in the unread text. I spent exactly 1 hour reading the next 200 pages and indeed, I found a few note-worthy jewels. I wrote a review and now I’m ready to move on to the next book. I feel good. I didn’t quit reading the book but I quit reading the book as if it were a Physics textbook.

This is the foundation of compromise: revisiting goals and assessing what’s required to satisfy those goals. It’s self-defeating to try to be an overachiever in every aspect of life. Trade-offs are necessary.

Have you ever had to reassess and adjust your goals in order to be successful?

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One Response

  1. Many of the books I don’t make it through are ones I pick up at the library. They are just sitting there, staring at my from the “New Arrivals” shelf, and so I pick up the ones that look interesting. And many of them are. So I skim around and, if I like them and want to dig a bit deeper, then I put them up on Goodreads as “To Read” so I don’t forget about them.

    Great post. Reading about compromise always reminds me of how I sometimes just need to drop the ball and move to a new court . . .

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