When Do You Quit and Kill a Project?
Some of those projects are easier than others.
The podcast is doing well. The average podcaster gets about 120 downloads an episode. I’m approaching 10x those numbers, and it’s just the beginning. The team at OneStone Creative makes the process easier. I don’t want to be the host of a show where people complain about life, so we’re working on building a community to match listeners with resources to be their own HR.
The HR Books website is a labor of love. I’m working with RepCap Media on the site, and the appetite for learning is out there. But book clubs are flaky and feminine, and HR professionals are very busy. It’s hard to get people to read twelve books a year, even though books are tools for professional development. But if you’re not learning, your career is atrophying. So that’s why I’ve engaged the Community Company to help us think through plans. And SHRM is onboard to be creative and collaborative once the annual conference is over. Good stuff is on the horizon.
The book proposal is genuine and, also, difficult to write when you have eye surgery. (That’s me. I’m five days post-op and feeling better.) Nearly everything is done except my sample chapter. Even with my impaired eyesight, I’ve made progress. Thank god for my summer school typing class in 1990. Memorizing the QWERTY keyboard was the best career move I’ve ever made.
Because I’m focused on those three projects, I’ve killed other potential revenue streams (consulting, writing blog posts, webinars, etc.) and had to limit my public speaking. Nevertheless, I’m still on the road for most of June once my eyes heal. It’s a busy time. And I realize that my three projects might fail.
How will I know if things are going south?
Here’s my advice on when it’s time to kill things.
1. If people offer unsolicited advice and tell you to stick with something, it’s time to let it go. They’re encouraging you because something seems off. Don’t be afraid to get some distance between you and whatever you’re trying to accomplish. Just because you press pause doesn’t mean you’re quitting. Revisions can’t happen without time and reflection. And, even if you stop, you owe nobody an explanation.
2. Quit something if it doesn’t serve a purpose beyond your ego. I mentioned HR Books is a labor of love. Sometimes I’m like, wow, only the same 200 people want to read books. That’s hard on my heart. But if I think about the broader goals of HR Books, I’m inspired to keep working on the project. It’s a site dedicated to leveling up the HR profession and encouraging people to read books on work, politics, meaning, passion, purpose, and identity. If it were just about being famous, I’d have shelved HR Books months ago. The site is about changing the nature of the industry. Can you say the same thing about whatever you’re pursuing? If not, might be time to press pause or pivot.
3. If the only energy you bring to a project is reactionary, it’s time to end it. I’ve written many book proposals and have done a long and winding dance with publishers who want me to write a book about HR or my journey as an entrepreneur. Those book proposals failed because the energy I brought to the table was rooted in a regressive desire to prove my haters wrong. I couldn’t hack it in HR, so I would write a book and show everybody how I’m the queen of the industry. I failed at being a tech entrepreneur, so I would teach everybody about failure. Last year, a friend told me to stop fucking around and be honest with myself. Write the book I’m meant to write. That, my friends, is “Let’s Fix Work.” And it’s hard work, but it’s earnest. Are you bringing the right energy to your endeavors? Heartfelt attempts don’t always succeed, but vain efforts to silence your haters will always fail.
So, that’s my life update and advice on when to quit. There’s no shame in trying something and failing. But, when you try, make sure it’s a noble endeavor and not just a distraction from the hard work you’re meant to do.
Podcasting. Creating community. Writing. That’s what I’m meant to do. What about you?