Thursday, December 31, 2009

12 questions to ask before quitting

I just finished reading Seth Godin’s The Dip. It is the kind of book that prompts you to reflect on your current situation, or when critical points arise, and what decisions or actions to make.

Seth Godin anchors on the premise that every project or endeavour that we get into starts out as exciting. Then it gets harder until it reaches a really low point. When this situation happens, there are three possible situations:
  1. You are in a dip. It will get better if you keep on pushing.
  2. Cul-de-sac or dead-end. It will not get better no matter how hard you try. It will not necessarily get any worse either. Some refer to this as status-quo.
  3. Cliff. You can't quit until you fall-off (e.g. smoking) and that is where everything falls apart.
You will know that you are in dip if you find the project at hand be worth doing no matter what the hardships are. However, not everyone sticks with it as a good number quits at the height of difficulty. In the process, this creates scarcity. Scarcity creates value.
If you are at a low point and contemplating whether to quit or to stick, Godin suggests 3 questions to ask yourself first:
  1. Am I panicking?
    Best quitters are those who decide in advance when to quit rather than be carried away on the emotions in the moment.
  2. Who am I trying to influence?
    Are you trying to influence a person or a market? One person can make up his mind and changing it can be difficult or nearly impossible. However, Godin explains that a market doesn't have a single mind as each one sees differently. Progress can be achieved one step at a time.
  3. What sort of measurable progress am I making?
    It must have some sort of an impact especially if you are influencing a market. Tactics that doesn't work can be retired while trying out new ones. But your commitment in serving that market needs to be unquestioned.
Every December, a lot of my time is spent in planning out activities for next year. Some of my past endeavours get pursued while others retired. Let me apply the questions used on page 75 of the book to further demonstrate this:

(updated January 2012)
Ateneo-DigitalFilipino Certified Blog and Social Media Entrepreneur Program
My Certified Blog and Social Media Entrepreneur Program project collaboration came out as a result of listening to feedback from participants in my online and face-to-face workshops where participants shared negative experience they had with other similar offerings. As market needs change fast, the way the program gets promoted also has to adjust with the times.
  1. Is this a dip, cliff, or cul-de-sac?
    I consider the situation a dip as the potential of the market is huge and very few can offer what I can. It can also be a cul-de-sac with a growing number of similar competitors.
  2. If it's a cul-de-sac, how can I change it into a dip?
    Decided to be more aggressive this 2012 by coming up with guides that can help participants in understanding the skill sets better in terms of developing, marketing, and earning from it.
  3. Is my persistence going to pay off in the long run?
    Yes it will.
  4. Am I engaged with just one person (or organization) or do my actions spill over into the entire marketplace?
    We are engaged with the entire marketplace. Some of our graduates are also movers in the community and contributors to positive change in their respective communities.
  5. When should I quit?
    If our efforts not enough to drive the market, then will seek possible alliances to achieve the bigger picture.
  6. What chance does this project have to be the best in the world (or country)?If it is able to document its experience and share it to the public, it can set "minimum" standards on how things should be done.
  7. Who decides what best is?
    The market will eventually be the one to decide.
  8. Is doing nothing better than planning on quitting and then doing something great?
    I think planning to move forward and carry it out allows you to move closer in achieving your goals rather than do nothing at all and be contented with what you have.
  9. Are you avoiding the remarkable as a way of quitting without quitting?
    Definitely not. Being remarkable must always be the goal.
I also apply the questionnaire above for the Top 10 Emerging Influential Blogs writing project every year. The project is still on its relevance stage and has not reach the dip yet. Full speed ahead!