The Upside of Quitting, or Why I Resigned

“Opportunity Cost” is an economic concept. It is defined as, “the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen.” In other words, if I decide to spend 20 minutes writing this blog entry, I have lost any benefit I could have enjoyed from spending that 20 minutes doing something else. This applies to work, too. If I spend the next year working in a particular job, what benefits have I lost by not doing something else?

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That’s a question I have been asking myself a lot lately, after spending nearly two years working as a consultant for a family-owned HR Organizational Development consultancy. In that time, I have learned a lot (usually by metaphorically stubbing my toes and learning not to repeat that mistake!) and have worked with some very talented and committed people. Still, the question of opportunity cost has bubbled up in my mind frequently and I have repeated asked myself whether I am growing, or just learning.

Another economic concept is “sunk cost”. It is defined as, “a cost that has already been incurred and cannot be recovered.” In behavioral economics, people often make irrational decisions because they have already invested so much time, money, or other resources. In my case, that would be the part of my mind that kept thinking, “I’ve already invested almost two years to this job; I should keep at it a while longer.”

Ultimately, I decided to quit. I’ve been working for nearly 30 years and know myself pretty well. I know my strengths, my weaknesses, my motivations, and my aversions. So when two opportunities came along through my network, I recognized quickly that either opportunity would better match with who I am while allowing me to continue growing.

The decision to quit was not easy, but as I recall from one Freakonomics podcast called The Upside of Quitting, we have to recognize when something is not right for us and be able to face it squarely, own up to it, end it, and then move on. As I look at my life, I’ve had examples where I’ve been able to do this well (I attended three schools and majors en route to my bachelor’s degree) and examples where I’ve struggled on at something that wasn’t worth struggling on with (my second boyfriend).

On Friday, I gave my notice. It was a nearly two-month notice to allow sufficient time to transition all my projects and clients smoothly. Over the weekend, I’ve realized that for the first time in nearly a year, I feel very unburdened. This reinforces to me that I’ve made the right decision.

In the coming weeks and months I will share more about the new job. I anticipate it will give me time to resume blogging, which is another good sign.