Stop! Before You Quit Anything (Including School), Do This!
Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about. — Winston Churchill
Are You Really Sure You Want to Quit?
Adult learners are particularly prone to stress and feelings of being overwhelmed. As adults, we have taken on so many responsibilities it often feels as if we’re being pulled in multiple directions all at once. We can get caught up in an overloaded present and forget to look at the bigger picture of our lives. Worse still, often, to relieve the pressure, we give-up on what we truly want for ourselves believing that we should sacrifice our own fulfillment for the needs of others around us.
Are we being virtuous or short-sighted? Are not the ones we care about better off with us in their lives when we are whole and accomplished? Are we not more fun, interesting, and inspiring to be around when we live the life we are meant to live, which, without question, necessitates taking the steps along the way that we are meant to take in order to be fully and completely our realized selves?
Our decisions matter. Not just for ourselves but also for those we care deeply about. Quitting is easy; it’s a quick fix for feelings of momentary discomfort — maybe we feel we’re in over our head in our coursework, or overbooked time-wise. But these are temporary problems for which there are here-and-now solutions. What we actually need is a change in our perspective. This is where the rocking chair test begins!
The Rocking Chair Test
Life coaches often utilize the rocking chair test as a way of helping individuals gain almost instant perspective in their lives especially when it comes to making crucial life decisions. It’s a simple premise with profound meaning for each individual who takes the test. And it’s a test one can, and should, return to frequently in life.
Imagine you are seated in a rocking chair late in your life — you’re in your 80s or 90s. You’re looking back on the moment you decided to quit college. From your perspective at the end of your life, ask yourself the following questions:
- Did my decision add or subtract to my life?
- Did my decision help me stay true to myself and the life I intended for myself?
- Did my decision serve as a positive role model for others?
- Did my decision help me add value to the lives of those around me?
- Did my decision allow me to make a lasting and beneficial contribution to my community?
These questions are designed to help you gain clarity in the present. In the YouTube presentation, The Rocking Chair Test: Eric Kipp at TEDxKeioSFC, Eric Kipp outlines his process when taking the rocking chair test:
- Begin With the End in Mind (another way to look at this might be with this question: how do you wish to be remembered?)
- Put Things in Perspective (another way to look at this might be that your answers to your questions will tell you what’s truly important and a priority to you now and for the future — for example, is being a lifelong learner meaningful to you?)
- Prioritize Your Day-to-Day (another way to look at this might be that the daily steps you take, and the daily decisions you make are the building blocks of your future self)
- Rule Out Regret (or perhaps you could say, once you’ve set your course, banish self-doubt — you are operating at your very best, and that is enough and all that you can ask of yourself)
Check out Kipp’s talk for yourself. It’s about how he founded Hiking Yoga, an organization which embodies his passion for reconnecting people with their own communities through hiking and yoga. Friends get together for 90 minutes of exploration combining, as Kipp puts it, “the cardio of hiking and the power and grace of yoga.”
Beyond Kipp’s own story however, is the message that looking deep within yourself not only helps you isolate your true passions but frees you to take action toward realizing your true potential. In the process you benefit yourself, and your community. As Kipp says, “…the world doesn’t need more vanilla from you, the world needs your very best.
Have a Seat!
So, before you decide to quit school, or make any other major life decision, take the rocking chair test. The insights we gain are priceless, allow us to make better decisions, think more deeply about our ownership of our own destiny, and take meaningful action toward our best possible future. If we can imagine our 80 or 90 year-old self beaming with pride, we’re headed in the right direction!
What do you think?
- Are you currently enrolled in a program you’re thinking of leaving?
- Do you feel the rocking chair test is useful?
- Do you feel the rocking chair test is a waste of time?