Knowing when to bow out gracefully is an art form that has few masters. Most of us yield to the temptation to stay too long at the party, which makes Serah-Marie McMahon’s recent decision to stop publishing Worn Fashion Journal, the Canadian magazine she founded almost a decade ago, all the more admirable.
An antidote to ‘all trends, all the time’ content, Worn traded in the culture of ideas—the Venezuelan obsession with ‘manufactured beauty’ is a recent example—yet it always managed to sustain its renegade streak without falling prey to the cliché of indie outrage.
According to McMahon, interviewed last month by the The Globe and Mail, the independent magazine born out of her frustration with the fashion industry was at the top of its game at the time of its close, generating its highest levels of readership and revenue. McMahon and her colleagues, all of whom held down other jobs, were apparently no longer able to keep pace with the all-or-nothing-at-all demands of the publication.
Worn’s end emphasizes the idea that going out on top is never a bad thing. Sometimes honouring success means walking away from a passion project when the getting is good.
“We have to really understand our own growth and evolutionary process,” says Caird Urquhart, President of New Road Coaching, in Toronto. “You’re not the same person [year by year], and by virtue of that your interests, desires and needs are going to change.”
Calling time on a dream realized is not a failure; it’s necessary to personal development. Urquhart cites Oprah Winfrey’s decision to end her talk show and start anew as an excellent example of that: “She could have sat there forever but she didn’t because it was time to do something different. I’m sure she had a million people telling her that she was nuts.”
It’s never easy to pull the plug on a long-standing dream, especially one whose creative vision and goals have been largely realized. Ironically, it can sometimes be easier to persevere through failure than navigate the complexities of success. In many cases, our dreams vanish so quietly over time that we often fail to notice they’ve been abandoned.
When should you walk away from success? The answer is simple: when you feel it’s time.
The final issue of Worn is on sale now.