There are lots of reasons to stick around in a job you hate, often chief among them the fact that it provides a paycheck.
But even if you’ve saved up enough to get by while you hunt for a new gig, it can be hard to sit with the feeling that you gave up — that you’re a quitter. It can be all too tempting to endure mind-numbing work and daily abuses from your boss, just so you can say you stuck through it.
But ask an expert on the power of stick-to-itiveness and she’ll tell you: Sometimes quitting is the healthiest option.
That expert is Angela Duckworth, a professor psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and author of the new book, “Grit.”
Duckworth won a MacArthur “genius” award in 2013 for her research on the psychology of achievement; that same year she gave a TED Talk that’s since been viewed millions of times.
The book’s central thesis is that grit, which is a combination of passion and perseverance, is a better predictor of success than innate talent or intelligence. People who can adhere to a goal and power their way through any obstacles standing in their way simply go farther in life than everyone else.
When Duckworth visited the Business Insider offices in April, she explained that grit doesn’t mean being miserable for perseverance’s sake:
Grit really has to start with passion, and you have to love what you do. If you don’t find it interesting, if you don’t find it important, then there’s no point in the perseverance half of it. It’s not perseverance without passion nor passion without perseverance; it’s really both.
And so if you are struggling to figure out whether this the time to quit or not quit and you’re worried that quitting wouldn’t be gritty, I think the question to ask yourself is, “What am I here for? What is it about this job that first attracted me?“
And if it’s something where you can answer the question with, “Well, this is what first attracted me in this direction but actually this other company would be a better way for me to meet that goal,” then you should in fact move.
Duckworth’s insights should be heartening to anyone who’s worried about giving up on a dead-end project or a soul-sucking job. Grit stems from genuine interest — and if that interest is missing, then there’s little point sticking it out. Find someplace that allows you to do meaningful, fulfilling work and feels like a fit for you.
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