When to Pivot vs. Pull the Plug – The Truth About Quitting

Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever

Lance Armstrong

It’s always too early to quit.

Norman Vincent Peale

If you quit once, it becomes a habit. Never quit.

Michael Jordan

A quitter never wins, and a winner never quits

Napolean Hill

Eeeeesh, isn’t that a roster of smart men? And those are just a handful of quotes that get bandied about alongside other words of wisdom meant to inspire and evoke success. Do a search on popular quotes about quitting and you’ll see just how many there are.

Well, maybe there is more to the story than this.

As a travel industry career coach, the one question that keeps coming up over and over again in my sessions is this…

“Diane, Is it time for me to consider a new profession? Will the travel industry survive this shit-show? Do I cut my losses, quit now and try something new?”

Since it is the number one question on everybody’s mind, I wanted to address it here for those of you who haven’t yet signed up to chat with me one-on-one. Btw…would love to hear from you. You can schedule a call by clicking on the button at the tail of this post.


Here’s my take on the situation

No one will argue that 2020 was the worst year ever for the travel industry. It sucked far deeper than 2001/2 or 2008/9 ever did. 2020 reached a whole new level of suck. Many travel businesses had to shut their doors.  Oodles of travel advisors were laid-off or furloughed and still are. Many have now completed all 695 episodes of the Simpsons – I even know a few close friends who can mimic word for word every line of the Golden Girls.  #nojudgement.

So how do you know when it’s time to quit and when it is time to take the advice of Lance Armstrong, Norman Vincent Peale, Michael Jordan and Napoleon Hill – buckle up and hunker down for the ride?

You might be surprised by my answer because it is not a resounding “YES, hang in there, pal.”

Will you be one of the few who make it through this COVID crap or will you become a COVID casualty? The answer is…it really depends. I hope what I’m about to say will strike a chord with you. It might just turn all the lessons you’ve been previously taught about perseverance on their ear. 

My question to you would be…how much do you want it? 

 And hear me out. I don’t mean to make this sound trite. I’m here in the trenches with you after all. Sometimes, quitting is exactly what you need to do. What if letting go is the biggest gift you can give yourself?


I recently read Seth Godin’s book “The Dip” where he talks about the value of quitting and why there is no shame in it. 

The truth is, winners do quit. They quit things all the time. The secret is to know when to quit and what to quit.

Did you know that Michael Phelps is a quitter?

Michael Phelps is an amazing athlete by anyone’s standards. At one point, he was the world’s fastest swimmer – he’s the most decorated athlete the Olympics has ever known. But Michael Phelps is a quitter.

Now I don’t know Michael that well. We don’t hang on the weekends over brewskies. But what I do know is that in order for Michael to have achieved the success in his field, he had to have quit things. Maybe the kids down the street asked him to play baseball. He probably liked the idea but as soon as he realized that he couldn’t throw a curveball to save his life, he quit. And as a result, Michael Phelps will never wear a Baltimore Orioles jersey, but he can drape all 28 Olympic medals he’s won proudly around his neck. 

You can’t be a gold medalist at all things. You need to choose whatever your path is and then commit 100% to that path. And that is going to take all that you’ve got. You are going to have to give up some things and you are going to need to quit what you don’t love in order to work towards what you do.

So is that travel for you? I dunno. Only you can answer that. 

The premise of Seth Godin’s book “The Dip” is that every single career path includes a chasm of SUCK (he refers to it as the Dip). It’s what separates the hobbyist and amateur from the professional. The professional will reap great rewards that might resemble Olympic medals. Or success could equal a six-figure and seven-figure salary but you have to do the work to get across that chasm of SUCK. 

If you aren’t willing to do that work…do everyone a favour and get the F*ck out now!  Quit!

Michael Phelps realized early on that he wasn’t going to be a superstar baseball player, but man…did he love the pool. He loved it so much that he was willing to get up every morning and swim laps until his arms fell off. He gave up dates with girls. He gave up chocolate milkshakes. He quit all that stuff so that he had room to hone his craft. As a result, he still sucks at baseball but he is exceptional in the pool. Maybe you suck at baseball too. Maybe you are the Michael Phelps of the travel world.

And how do you know if travel is really what you love? How do you know if it’s the path you are supposed to be on?

I would ask yourself the following questions, honestly.

  1. If you could go back to the beginning of your career and start again knowing what you know now, would you still choose travel?
  2. Have you accomplished the goals and learned the lessons you were meant to accomplish and learn? Or is there stuff still waiting on the table for you?
  3. Did you get into this business based on romantic ideas of what you thought it might be vs. the reality?
  4. Would you pursue this career if you weren’t being paid?

And hey, you might be thinking…but wait, Diane, I have kids to feed, rent to pay, a wine habit to support. I love travel but I need to make a living. 

Sure, I get that but if this is the right profession for you, you’ll find a way to make rent. Just think of all of those Hollywood actors who waited tables at the Tex Mex dive on Sunset before getting their big break. There’s always a way.

And if you answer those questions and realize the travel industry is your passion, then hell no, you shouldn’t quit.

But you also can’t sit on the couch and wait for this time to pass. No matter if you are still actively working in the industry or collecting unemployment insurance, this is not the time to take a break.

This is the time to master the art of being a true professional and expert in your field. You might need to pivot (the trending word of 2020). Take the courses you’ve always wanted to take. Become a social media maven. Branch out on your own so that you can maximize your commissions. Build your own website and start publishing articles. Start an email list if you haven’t already. It’s not too late.


Because here is the good news. And don’t we all need some?

The Dip is where the magic happens. The dip is the space between the amateur hobbyist and the artisan who has mastered her craft. 

Many of our peers have already quit the industry. I wish them every success.. but bye, bye.

And of those that remain, 95% of them won’t take advantage of this downtime. And these are the people who I’m the saddest for. Those who stay and do nothing are in even worse shape. They don’t have the cajones to quit, and they don’t have the fortitude to pivot. They just lie at the bottom of the chasm and bleed out.

The Dip gets rid of the riffraff and creates scarcity. And scarcity equals value. People are always willing to pay for what they perceive as value. People will pay for the privilege of working with those who made it across the chasm of SUCK and come out the other side. 


For the travel industry, the coronavirus dug a massive canyon of a dip in our industry. Many advisors threw their hands in the air and said, “Frig…so not worth it.” But for those of you who think this industry is worth it…and you hang in there and cross the dip – you can be secure in knowing that once you get to the other side, it won’t be crowded.  It will be easy to keep two metres of distance between us because all the others will have packed up their marbles and gone home.

And for those who make it to the other side, you will be part of the elite few and as such, your success is unlimited.

I’d like to leave you with an excerpt from Bonnie Ware’s, “Regrets of the Dying,” the number one regret most often voiced was –  

“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

All this to say…if you decide travel really isn’t your love, then quit. There is no shame in that. Don’t stick with something out of fear of what others will think of you. Don’t let your ego make that decision. Go find the thing that you will swim 10,000 laps to achieve and go do that.

But if you love travel, like me, then hang in there — grab your machete and let’s make our way to the other side of this chasm of SUCK.


I’d like to invite you to sign up to be a founding member of my upcoming course – The Travelpreneur Masterclass. As a founding member, you will have lifetime access to the course in addition to advance access to a host of bonuses plus freebies. These are only for this founding group as a thank you for having faith in me when I was still finding my sea legs. 

Register Now.

Don’t worry, you’ll reserve the right to opt out of the group prior to putting any money down. 

If you found this article useful. If you know someone who is battling with whether to toss in the beach towel or pick up the shovel and dig in, why not share this post with them?

And if you’d like to book your first complimentary coaching session, you can do so below. We can explore how can help you grow your travel business.

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