“You got to know when to hold ‘em, when to fold ‘em, when to walk away, and when to run.”

I apologize in advance for potentially leaving you with that song stuck in your head. It just popped into my mind when I was thinking about a friend who recently quit her job.

Normally, I am a steadfast believer in the idea that you should never give up. I say it about marriage. I say it about following your dreams. I say it about working toward achieving any goal you might have. On our cocktail table in the living room there is a decorative little, six-sided die with separate choice words engraved on each of the six sides: Yes, Forget It, Try Again, Call Meeting, It’s 50/50, and No.

When To Say No | Decision Making 6-sided Die

I insist on having the die always resting so the word “Yes” is face up. I’m almost superstitious about it, like I’ll jinx myself if it’s displaying the word “No”.

I’ve learned that success is almost always based on one’s ability to say “Yes”. In improv it’s even a concrete rule! Say yes. No matter what gets thrown into a scene, you go with it. But when is it ok to call it quits? How do you know for sure when it’s ok to throw in the towel? I think a big clue is when the cons outweigh any pros, when the pain heavily overshadows any joy.

In the case of my friend, she has been trying to make things convivial at a hair salon for years. She goes to work daily believing she can keep a positive attitude, rise above the sour environment, and quietly take home her paycheck. She needs that paycheck. She has goals that reach far beyond that little salon, goals that the paycheck could help her reach sooner. But after years of being disrespected and under-appreciated, she realized the toxins were building in her belly every day, every week, pervading her spirit, zapping her energy, and affecting her outlook even when not in the salon. In other words, she was collecting a paycheck at an expense far greater than the currency she was bringing in.

When hanging in there means hanging yourself out to dry, it’s time to walk. I’m so proud of her for standing up for her worth as an employee and a person.

She’s already figured out a way to keep doing hair, keep her clients, and continue bringing in the cash by setting up a small in-home salon. To my point, this girl is not a quitter, she’s a doer. But she realized all her efforts to stay put and try to make life work at the previous salon just drained her of everything that makes her special in the first place.

I cheer her on and celebrate her decision to quit. She instinctively knew the time to fold was when she was being hindered from becoming her best self. Only you can answer if that is valid in your own circumstance. It takes self-awareness and honesty to access these situations. You never want to take the easy road simply because the other route is too hard. But sometimes quitting is actually the bravest choice.

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