by Paul Casey

When to Pull Out of a Time Commitment

You have 2 competing arguments in your head: I have made a commitment to this cause/person and I hold loyalty as a core value, yet I feel an increasing urge to back out of this ongoing effort and allocate my limited time elsewhere.  How do you determine if the time is now for calling it quits without nagging guilt about this choice? Here are 11 filters through which to run the decision:

  1. Am I starting to feel the effects of burnout, and a more desperate need to lighten my load?
  2. Are my other priority commitments suffering as a result of my too-full schedule, including this effort?
  3. Have I lost the necessary passion/emotional energy to further this cause?
  4. Do I find myself not making much of a difference/impact, using my strengths, by my ongoing participation?
  5. Have new opportunities presented themselves that get me more excited with potential greater payoff than this one?
  6. Have I dropped enough balls on this commitment (e.g. absences, missed deadlines) that I’m tired of letting down the others involved? 
  7. Am I in a season of transition that requires extra emotional energy to deal with it in a healthy way?
  8. Am I not experiencing true “community”? Have I not made enough vital relationship links that tie me closely to the individuals that I serve alongside?
  9. Do I no longer receive sufficient benefits for the amount of time dedicated to the effort?
  10. Is the culture too dysfunctional/toxic/disorganized to remain a part of?
  11. Is it just time to move on, as I want to leave on good terms, having accomplished what I came here to do?

Answering YES to the majority of these questions is a good indicator that you need to say good-bye.

  • Do it honorably.
  • Finish the tasks that you have owned and give enough notice as to not leave your cohorts in a lurch.
  • Only speak positively on the way out, and if possible, try to find your replacement before you leave.
  • Smile at the good memories and what got done on your watch; it served you for a time, and you are better for how you grew through it.

A coach can help you process decisions like these. Want a free 45-minute strategy session? Email me at  It would be an honor to be a part of your growth journey.


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