Back to musings

Before quiet quitting, there was just…quitting

With quiet quitting getting so much attention in 2023, I’ve been reflecting on what leaving the publishing industry to start something else taught me

  • Date Posted


  • Tags


  • Written By

    Jennifer Herman

In June 2020, I quit my job and left an industry I had known for over twenty years. The idea had been percolating for months, but I took the world coming to a stop as a sign from the universe that some changes needed to happen. So quit I did.

With quiet quitting getting so much attention this year, I’ve been reflecting on what leaving the publishing industry to start something else taught me. Although the lessons were many, the highlights are as follows:

1. You can’t change the people around you, but you can change the people around you

After multiple conversations with my boss at the old gig, it became apparent that my career had run its course. As the driver of said profession, it was on me to spend time figuring out what should come next. Change is scary, but stagnation, discontent, and being unchallenged are more terrifying to me.

2. Have a serious talk with your ego, then tell it to take a mini vacation

All that time in the publishing industry gave me confidence in talking to authors, editors, clients, and suppliers that I had long taken for granted. Having to find my footing over the past three years has been challenging. Having to prove myself and my competencies has been more difficult, but all have been good reminders to stay humble and to continue moving forward.

3. Don’t stop believing, and don’t stop learning

You can imagine the comments I got leaving a great job three months into the pandemic. Thrilled to tell the naysayers I came out of it unscathed. I work for a design agency that teaches me things about the industry and myself daily. So many skills you already possess are transferable, and any new ones you need can be learned if you invest in yourself. There are so many things I don’t know or don’t have the answers to, but I ask questions (sometimes repeatedly) and research until things start making sense. Building a network of intelligent, driven, talented people I can rely on has been a game changer for everything else.

We tie so much of our identity up in what we do, but if what you do 30, 40, 50 hours a week isn’t bringing some challenge or fulfillment (speaking particularly to those of us in the mid to late stages of our careers) perhaps it is time to consider a change. I admire the people early in their careers recognizing that there is more to life than work and that finding the right career fit isn’t time wasted but very well spent.