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Annie Duke, poker legend, explains why quitting is a good idea By Stocksak


© Stocksak. Annie Duke poses in an undated photograph taken by Stocksak on October 27, 2022. Courtesy Annie Duke/Handout via REUTERS

Chris Taylor

NEW YORK – At this point, it seems like everyone is talking about the trend of “quiet quitting,” where employees slowly start disengaging from their work.

Annie Duke has a suggestion.

The legendary poker player has a new book out on the subject titled “Quit: The Power of Knowing When To Walk Away.”

“Quitting shouldn’t be a dirty word or insult,” Duke says. “In fact, quitting a critical skill to develop.”

Duke is not advocating that we abandon our responsibilities. But quitting is a life choice we can get better at – by thinking intelligently about when, why and how to do it, says Duke, who left the world of competitive poker and is the author of several books on the art of decision-making.

Of course, this flies in the face of dominant cultural norms – that you can never give up and must stick it out at all costs.

That is the typical “hustle culture” narrative, and it is just wrong, Duke says. If we are being honest, we are quitting stuff all the time in life – whether leaving a toxic relationship for a healthier one or moving on from a dead-end job in search of one that is more fulfilling. Sometimes, giving up on a particular path is the best thing.

Indeed, the pandemic era has seen quitting be a high-ranking topic in America’s minds. The so-called “Great Resignation” led more than 47 million people to leave jobs in 2021, according to the Labor Department. They were motivated by a strong job marketplace, the mass loss which led to a reshaping and realization that life is indeed very short.

So instead of blindly following the ethos of “never quit,” perhaps we should be learning how to quit more often, and better. Here are some thoughts from Duke

DO NOT LEAVE IT UNTIL THE END

Duke says that if you are constantly thinking about quitting, it is likely that you should have done it sooner. Once that point is reached, the decision is easy.

It is impossible to be 100% certain about any decision in your life. But typically, most people who quit end up believing they made the right choice, she says – and are happier for it.

After all, if you are miserable in a job and decide to stick it out a few more years, think of the significant “opportunity costs” involved – you could have spent that time pursuing a new and better path.

KNOW WHEN TO FOLD

It can feel like you are wasting your time and effort if you have worked for years in a job. Those are called “sunk costs,” and they are warping your decision-making.

Duke says that you should be focusing on the best path to get there. Like a poor poker player, it is often better to fold than to continue playing the game and risk more money to get worse hands.

SET ‘KILL CRITERIA’

When we’re right in the middle of a situation, we often make bad decisions, because our emotions have overwhelmed us. That is why those climbing Mount Everest set “turnaround times” in advance – hard time limits that prompt them to turn around before they reach the summit, lest they find themselves in grave danger.

Set some goals and objectives before you start a new job. If you feel like your career is stagnating or you are feeling lost, these “kill criteria”, will help you make better decisions.

HAVE A ‘QUITTING COACH’

Duke says that quitting a job that is tied to your identity is the hardest thing. Duke says that if a company or role has become part of you, then what are you doing now?

This is why people may be reluctant to quit. You might also need outside help to see the situation clearly. “Find someone you trust, who has your best interests at heart, and sit down with them,” she says. “A friend can help us through those hard decisions, because to others, it can often be pretty obvious that we need to quit.”

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Stocksak Editorial

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