When Should You Quit Being a Personal Historian and Move On?

I spend time here encouraging and supporting full-time professional personal historians.

But what about those of you who may be wondering if it’s time to give up being a personal historian all together? Remember there’s nothing wrong with quitting.  I wrote about giving up in a previous post Stop With The Productivity Pitches!

I’ve changed careers at least four times in my life. From my experience here are the clues that tell you enough is enough.

Lack of Passion

This is a big one. To establish and run a successful personal history business requires an ongoing belief that what you’re doing is vital. You must absolutely love your work. If you find that the passion has gone and your days are a grind, then it’s time  to move on.

Lack of Income

We all need to make enough money to pay the bills and have a little extra left over. For everyone that amount will vary. But if you’ve been working hard for a couple of years and you’re still having trouble making ends meet, you might want to reconsider being a personal historian. Nothing can kill your passion quicker than a dwindling bank account.

Lack of Energy

Keeping a business flourishing requires energy. There are ongoing marketing, networking, client projects, and administrative tasks.  If you find that you don’t have the energy because of poor health, age, or caregiving responsibilities, you might want to call it quits.

lack of time

A successful personal history business is a full-time job. If you’re trying to run it  while juggling other part-time jobs, you could face a crisis. While you may need extra income to keep yourself afloat, it makes it difficult to grow your personal history business. If you’re in this situation,  consider giving it up and  making personal history a hobby not a business.


Quitting is okay.  I would caution though not to quit too early. Collective wisdom says that it takes at least two years to get a new business up and running. So give it time.

Some of the challenges I’ve mentioned above might be overcome by altering your approach. For example,  a lack of passion may be a result of exhaustion rather than a lack of interest. Finding a way to bring some balance into your life might bring back the passion.

Before making your final decision to move on, weigh all the factors, look for possible solutions, and talk with trusted colleagues and friends. If it still looks like quitting is the answer, go for it!

Photo by Abe Kleinfeld

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3 Responses to When Should You Quit Being a Personal Historian and Move On?

  1. No quicker way to kill passion than exhaustion. I thought I had run out of gas for personal histories a few years ago, but joining my peer group in APH filled up my tank and then some. This year is my tenth anniversary officially as LifeStories (though labour and delivery was five years prior). I am so grateful to be doing this work. It’s definitely what I was meant to do. It’s so positive! Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Pingback: Why I Became a Personal Historian « Yawapi

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