Scrabble tiles on green felt spell QUIT

I Quit!

If you’re anything like me, knowing when to say when is often a challenge. I mean, if you love someone shouldn’t you be able to make the relationship work? If you believe in the vision, shouldn’t you stick it out until that vision becomes a reality? Good people, virtuous people, inspiring people never quit.

Or do they?

When is quitting, walking away, crying ‘UNCLE!’, the most loving thing you can do?

And when does staying, toughing it out, pushing through it become an act of self-sabotage and self-torture?

Enter: my daughter’s brand spanking new public Montessori charter school.

The vision? Amazing.
The teachers? Exceptional.
The parent community? Inspiring.
The reality of the day to day life for my daughter? Terrifying (Really)

I remember sending her off for her first day of kindergarten. She was so filled with enthusiasm and glee. Here we were being pioneers, hopping on board the maiden voyage through uncharted territory in such a diverse community. The seas started getting rough when her head teacher ended up on medical leave before the holiday break. Her classroom, filled with kindergartners, 1st, and 2nd graders, began to spiral out of control. Behaviors began to escalate, kids were acting out, work stopped getting done, and teachers started looking like the walking dead. Things were getting unsafe for our daughter.

So what did I do?

I enrolled my inner activist—my inner fixer—and organized volunteers. We had parents in the classroom to help every day and I myself started volunteering multiple days a week. Before I knew it my life had been hijacked…it was all consuming. The organizing, the email chains, the meetings with the principal. Not to mention the sleepless nights, the sheer anxiety, the feelings of sorrow for the kids that were acting out in crazy ways (think throwing stuff, kicking teachers, and running out of the classroom), and the pit in my stomach when I dropped off my daughter not knowing if she was going to be in harm’s way. (Please note that this account is specific to my daughter and her classroom at the school. Other classrooms, I hear, are fantastic, so please take my experience as just that…mine.)

Perhaps you can relate? Maybe you’re in a relationship that you KNOW isn’t right anymore? Or you’ve remained one year (or ten years) too long at that “golden handcuffs” job? Or you’ve outgrown the city you live 20 years ago?

So how do you know when to say when? What are the signs that it’s time to yell “I QUIT!” at the top of your lungs? Here’s what I’ve discovered on my own journey and through coaching lots of clients over the past 13 years:


Please note: you may fall into the It’s Time to Stay category today and three months (or three days or three minutes) from now find yourself in the It’s Time to Quit place. This is about following your Inner Wisdom!

For me and my husband, once we found out that our head teacher had resigned, we immediately knew it was time to leave. So we did just that. Annabella started a new school, and as we sat there observing her sing “I’m a Little Teacup” with her classmates, I felt choked up. Ah…this is what kindergarten is supposed to feel like. Like a fuzzy blanket on a chilly morning.

And then I went home and sobbed for the kids in this country who will never have that experience in their public school (or even at home). I will keep supporting a major revolution in public schools in this country and her old school’s vision, following my Inner Wisdom, making the biggest difference I can. While still putting my daughter’s needs and well being first. What I know is that I can’t BE the change if I’m filled with anxiety and panic, can I?

In the words of Kenny Rogers, “You got to know when to hold em, know when to fold em, know when to walk away, know when to run.” (Insert fabulous dance break here.)

What about you? Where do you need permission to quit in your life?

Where do you know in your heart it’s time to stay? 

Let me know your thoughts below.

Photo Jeff Djevdet via CC License

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About The Author

Amy Ahlers's picture

Amy Ahlers, the Wake-Up Call Coach and bestselling author, is on a mission to stop women from being so darn hard on themselves. Since 2000, she has been an International Certified Success Coach, the CEO of Wake-Up Call Coaching, and co-founder of Inner Mean Girl Reform School with Christine Arylo, Visionary Ignition Switch with Lissa Rankin, and Find Your Calling with Lissa Rankin and Martha Beck. Her newest passion is supporting moms to embrace the whole truth of motherhood, messiness, and magic with the Mama Truth Circle.

Amy has been a featured expert on lots of TV & radio shows, and for media outlets like ABC, FOX, The Washington Post, and The Huffington Post. She loves lighting up the stage at events where she wakes people up to the voice of their Inner Wisdom and helps them cultivate the courage to act on it. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter, inspiring women to find the everyday sacred.

Her first book, Big Fat Lies Women Tell Themselves: Ditch your Inner Critic and Wake Up Your Inner Superstar (New World Library, 2011), shot up to #1 in several categories on Amazon, including Self-Help, Happiness, and Self-Esteem. Her next book,  Reform Your Inner Mean Girl: 7 Steps to Stop Bullying Yourself and Start Loving Yourself, she co-wrote with Christine Arylo and is due out in April of 2015 from Beyond Words.

A 2010 recipient of the Women Who Dare Award from Girls Inc., she holds a BA from the University of California, earned the CPCC designation from The Coaches Training Institute, and is a Master Coach Equivalent. Amy is known best for her unconditional love, relentless enthusiasm, and kick ass truth telling. You can often find Amy in the San Francisco Bay Area holding hands with her husband, Rob, as they run after their firecracker daughters, Annabella and Evie Rose.

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