Looking back through my posts I’ve noticed several loose ends that need clearing up.
- I am not going to work on a case study involving accessibility, at least not right now.
- I am not writing a journal article, again, not right now.
- I did not complete my goal last year of 3 posts a month.
- I did not start a podcast and I don’t have plans to start one.
- I have decided not to pursue another master’s, a JD, or seminary for good.
Before I go wild with the laundry list of things I have not accomplished (easy to do), I wanted to dive into what these “failures” mean for myself, others, and fellow soon-to-be quitters.
Really the list above are all examples of an occurrence we all do every day, quit. We say, “I want to do [fill in blank]” or we ask for help in “accomplishing something big”, but the reality is much more upsetting than you may realize.
You see. I’m going through a time in my life where I’m exploring my career goals, hopes, and dreams. This also means that I’m trying different forms of goal setting and self-motivation strategies. Goals are the hot-button issue of my life. That’s why you should check out my last post here about goals. That post resulted from much needed reflection. While that’s good and fine, the question still remains, “how can you live without integrity?”. To rephrase, “How can you just simply quit after announcing your plans to the world?”.
Simply put, you have to have learned something from the experience and tell yourself a few key sentences.
I do not lack integrity. I’m not a quitter. I have not failed. If you’re in the same boat as I am, you are not a quitter or a failure either.
Integrity – the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.
No one relied on me completing any of the projects I listed. No one checked in, commented, praised, condemned, warned, or even shared a “like” about those items on social media let alone needed me to complete them. (Well maybe the podcast with my boss, but I mostly asked him questions). The only stakeholder in the completion of those tasks was myself. I live with the knowledge that I quit.
While I believe that you can have a certain amount of self-integrity, holding yourself accountable for your actions, I believe that you are also the judge of those actions. If you tell yourself, “today, I’ll eat something healthy” and instead eat an entire pizza, have you lost integrity? Sure, it hurts to feel like you failed yourself, but learning feels like that sometimes, but no means are you lesser.
The answer simply then is “no”. The reason, you learn something after you’ve forgiven yourself and you try better next time. There isn’t a magic percentage that makes a person have integrity. There isn’t a scientifically proven amount of failures before you quit for good. The truth of the matter, you keep trying different things until you get what you need.
Being a quitter
Quitter – a person who gives up easily or does not have the courage or determination to finish a task.
I will admit that the list is quite long. However, I’ve always been a guy that a grandiose proclamation can keep a person motivated. I’ve told myself many a time that, “I told everyone that I was going to do XXX, so I’m going to do XXX”. I’ve learned that this is silly for one good reason: I may change my mind.
Recently, I’ve been exploring different specialties of Rhetoric and Technical Communication. I even have a list of 48 phd programs that I have some interest in. I’m also trying to narrow my interests. As I explore each program, the faculty have many various specialties of their own. So I’ve joined round-table discussions, forums, listservs, and follow influencers on Twitter/LinkedIn in an attempt to learn more about my passions.
Following the trail of opportunity, i.e. the call for proposals, I announced projects that would position me in such a way that I could attend conferences as a presenter. I also explored the ways to make me stand out.
As I learned more about the subject matter involved in those projects, I learned that my heart was not in the right place. The accessibility project was an attempt to join MedRhet (Medical Rhetoric). After talking with my fiance, I learned I just wanted to share our worlds. She’s a doctor. However, I’m just not interested in becoming a MedRhet specialist.
I also learned that an “Everday Rhetoric Podcast” sounds great, but I do not have what it takes to work on a podcast. If I don’t feel like I could invest money, then I know I can’t invest in myself to work on it.
For the secondary education, I’ve been told my whole life to become a lawyer. My earliest memory of this was the second grade. I’ve also been told to become a pastor, a counsellor, and a programmer. I’ve looked into them long enough. At some point, quitting is just letting go. There’s no shame in that.
Finding the Everyday Rhetoric
“Change your mind”, “dip your toes in”, “trying something new”, “figuring it all out”, “experiment”, “take a stab”, “give it a whirl”, “trial period”, “give it your best shot”, “dream”, whatever you want to call it, remember that “trying” is not the same as “completing”.
Really what concerns me is the harshness that people give themselves for exploring without finding treasure. You can follow the map, dig at the “X”, and still come up empty-handed. That doesn’t mean that you need to start telling yourself that you “lack integrity”. Heck, if you’re looking at the map and don’t believe you’ll find treasure, that’s okay too. You might just need a different map. That’s just the pirates life.
Pretending to be a pirate aside, my point still stands. It is okay to talk to others about potential goals or projects. It’s okay to get swept up in an opportunity. It’s okay to get to a stopping point that makes you want to quit. It’s even okay to quit now and again.
The only thing that is not okay, not learning from the experience.
At the beginning of this post I stated that there were a few “loose ends that need clearing up” and the “everyday reality is much more upsetting”. What makes the everyday quitting “upsetting” is the fact that it is perfectly fine to quit a task that only involves yourself as stakeholder just as long as you’ve learned more than you lost.
Really, this post was to remind myself that I have not lost anything from not doing those projects. I have only gained new knowledge and insight into my career goals. I’ve learned more about my passions and have reflected on my experiences.
I also wanted to address those in my readership that have had a rough time these last few months. Life is a depressing if you’ve failed to write anything during NaNoWriMo, failed to get applications in during December/January, and have not responded to a single CFP. I know of several of you that have yet to buy tickets to various conferences. That’s 3 months of missing the ball, but life goes on and so do you.
As always, thank you for reading and I hope that you have found something of value to add to your everyday rhetoric repertoire. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch. Likewise, if there is any advice you could give me, I would love to hear from you. Thank you.