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Aug. 16, 2022, 5:00 a.m. EDT

How to find the courage to quit what’s ailing you

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By Sandra Ebejer

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Read: Serena Williams feels ‘no happiness’ retiring — just like many people who leave careers they love

Discovering what I want to do, and doing it

So, the excavation was really about going back to the basics. Who am I underneath all of this? Where did things start to go sideways? How do I find my way back to what is going to feel fulfilling? How do I stop doing things based on what other people want for me and from me, and start doing things based on what  I  want, even if it means disappointing people, even if it means some people won’t understand?

How did ‘Quitted’ come about?

“Quitted” came about because Holly Whitaker, my co-host, who I had been friends with on Instagram, reached out to me and said, ‘I am in the process of quitting-slash-being kicked out of the company that I founded in my own name. I’ve watched you take a smaller role in this brand that you founded that has your name and face all over it, and I know that you’ve been working on extricating yourself from it. I wonder if you would talk to me because I think you might understand what this feels like.’ We started talking about quitting and why we stay in things that we know aren’t serving us, [like] staying in a marriage you know isn’t right or questioning a religion but staying in it because it provides you community.

Also see: I’m 62, unemployed, living off my savings and waiting on Social Security — ‘Can I go fishing for the next 25 years and forget about work?’

Familiarity is often overrated

What are some of the things you’ve learned from your podcast guests?

The thing that keeps coming up is the willingness to take a risk [and] how afraid most of us are of doing things differently. There’s a biological basis for this. Our brain wants patterns, and our brain chooses familiarity, even if we hate it. [Podcast guest] Martha Beck talks about it like, ‘I’m going to eat this [vile] sandwich, and I’m going to continue to eat it even though I hate it. Because what if what’s out there is worse? What if there’s a worse sandwich? At least I know what I’m getting with this one.’

In order to make a choice to leave something, to do something differently or change a way of thinking, you have to leave the safety of what’s familiar. What’s been really interesting is hearing the stories of how people have done that, and the relief [they’ve felt]. Like, the relief that comes when you are in alignment with who you are and what your soul needs, even though there’s so much fear of the unknown. There is so much uncertainty, there’s a loss of community, there’s the loss of the future you thought you’d have, a sort of grieving the identity. At the same time, there’s the relief component that comes from being in alignment with what your deepest heart knows is true for you.

Change doesn’t have to be drastic

What advice do you have for to those who would like to quit something but are afraid to?

Martha Beck talks about one degree turns in her book, “ The Way of Integrity ,” and that is a strategy to use when the turn that you want to make feels insurmountable. Take one very tiny step every day toward making a change in the direction that you want. It can be tiny, tiny, tiny baby steps. There are really effective ways to make a change that don’t have to be drastic. They don’t have to feel like jumping off a cliff.

We started off by talking about where you were a few years ago, but what about now? What is the latest with your company?

In mid-2021, my business partner decided that it was time for us to sell. I had about a year before the sale went through, [and] over the course of that time, I came around to the idea of selling. I also came to the understanding that my desire to hold on [to the company] was based more on fear than anything else. It was not based in what was best for the longevity of the brand. It was not based in my passion for the business.

When I took a step back and was like, ‘What do I want to be doing in five years?’ It wasn’t running a consumer brand. I love what we built, I love the brand, I love our team, but I had been working for a few years to reduce my role. So, this was an opportunity. I am now a part-time consultant [for Em & Friends], which I will be doing for another nine months, and then my role ends.

What’s next? Who knows?

What do you see as the next step in your career?

I have no idea, and that is  so  deeply uncomfortable. It also feels really important to not just slap a new identity on. I am very conscious of my ego, brain, whatever you call it, to be like, ‘I want to be this! I’m going to be this! I’m gonna be this!’ Because the not-knowing place is uncomfortable. I don’t have an answer to, ‘What do you do?’

I need an income; I can’t retire. I need to get another job. I genuinely don’t know what it’s going to be. I’m feeling like it’s time for me to just to sit with myself and contemplate and see what comes forward.

Sandra Ebejer lives in upstate New York with her husband, son, and two cats who haven’t figured out how to get along. Her work has been published in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Real Simple, Writer’s Digest, Shondaland, and others. Read more at   or find her on Twitter 

This article is reprinted by permission from  , © 2022 Twin Cities Public Television, Inc. All rights reserved.

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