I'm writing this on a train that's headed north to Glasgow, the city where I spent my student days and then worked as a designer for five years before moving to London.
It's an ugly beautiful kind of place, which once had the highest density of high-rise housing in Europe, but is also full of art and music, and a generosity of spirit that its better looking neighbour Edinburgh lacks.
When I left my boss said that I'd probably stayed in the job too long, and I think he was right. The rest of my friends had gradually headed south to climb their respective creative career ladders in London, whilst I'd clung onto the notion that me leaving would somehow be letting Scotland down. (I was also crazy about a girl who wasn't crazy about me, but that's a story for another time).
Eventually I had more friends living in London than I had left in Scotland, and couldn't go through the motions at work any more. It was time to make my move. Here's the thing: deep down, I knew I was ready to make changes a lot earlier than I actually did.
But I was scared to quit Glasgow, and not bold enough to jump ship for Berlin, the other option I'd been eying up. I'd bought a flat, put down roots, acclimatised myself to the endless days of rain that roll over the city from the Atlantic.
I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do want I'm about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something — Steve Jobs
Don't make my mistake, and wait so long that it's the negative things around you that push you away, rather than trusting your instincts and letting positive things elsewhere reel you in.
Clues that it might be time to quit
1) You hate Mondays
Does the start of the week gives you "back to school" vibes? Try to be honest with yourself, like Steve was. What do you really want to do with your life? (One thing to remember though: your job is not a trap)
2) You're living someone else's life
Maybe you took a university degree because your father studied the same subject, and you don't want to break the family tradition. Or you're simply doing the things that are expected of you, rather than following your own dreams.
3) You're going through the motions
Are only doing things that are placed in front of you, rather than pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone? Are you acting with a half-hearted "OK then", rather than "Fuck yeah, let's do it!"?
The most important thing to remember is...
Quitting doesn't make you a quitter
Like learning to say "No" to things you don't really want to do, quitting is an art that's hard to master.
It takes guts.
But the good news is that you already have all the guts you need. (Metres and metres of them, coiled away inside you).
You just need to pause for a moment and listen to them.
Give yourself permission
The only person responsible for your life is you. So don't wait for someone else to hand you the keys or show you the door.
It's ok to put your hands up and say "I don't want to do this any more" or "I made a mistake".
Being comfortable with quitting gives you huge leverage on your life. It's healthy to try new things, to push yourself into slightly uncomfortable positions, and to leave people and places behind. (They'll still be there when you get back).
I'm in Glasgow now, and it's raining as usual. But I wouldn't have it any way, because somehow the dreich weather always feels like a welcome home.