Get in or Get Out (Clue: Ask Yourself…Have I Stayed Too Long?)

Raise your hand if you’ve ever stayed too long. Ahhh. Most hands just went up. Mine included.

If we’re being honest, most of us have lingered in a bad relationship or toxic job when we knew it was time to go.

Like that frog in boiling water, we notice it’s getting warmer, even hot, but our tolerance grows. Our fears or feelings of being overwhelmed trap us. And pretty soon – our goose (or frog) is cooked.

How do you know when it’s time to get out? If it is time, that answer has probably been speaking to you in quiet moments – if you’re listening. If you’re not listening, it may show up as illness (colds, upset stomach, anxiety, stress, depression, panic attacks – or worse).

I’ve found myself over-staying a few times in my life.  Once was during my first job out of college.  I was highly idealistic and while I actually loved the work, I didn’t like how the boss ran the company. I thought I knew better than he did, on well, everything.

I complained about him a lot: he didn’t treat employees or vendors right; he should have done this; he shouldn’t have done that.

One evening, when I was complaining again, a friend took a napkin and drew the following:

“Here’s the boss. Here you are. There’s the door.”

I looked at the napkin, then at him. “Darn. He’s right.”

He continued, “If you can make your agenda, his agenda, then great. Stay.”

Or, if I could remember he can run the company he built any way he chooses…stay. If I couldn’t… there’s the door. Go start my own company.

I decided to stay a while longer but ultimately got out. My remaining time was far more pleasant and productive and I left on a good note (important).

Many years later, I got similar personal advice that helped me “get out”. My ex-husband and I had divorced but continued to stay involved for a few years afterwards. It wasn’t healthy. It wasn’t committed. People get divorced for a reason.

After complaining about this on-again, off-again relationship, another therapist said to me, “What are you doing? Get in or get out.”

I thought about it. “What was I doing?” The non-relationship was going nowhere and it was time to end it. So I did. I GOT OUT. For good – truly for my own good.

Next, I wrote down in detail, the kind of man I wanted in my life. I described his personality, interests, looks, what “our” house looked like, and that we’d have kids, cats and lots of love.

Three months later, I was set up on a blind date with my now husband. We dated for five years and just celebrated 13 years of marriage. He is the guy I described – honest, kind, funny, smart, loves kids and cats. He’s a great dad and my best friend. We also have the type of relationship I envisioned – and worked for: honest, healthy, committed.

There is power in getting clear and getting out – so you can get ALL IN!

IMPORTANT: For many, it is not as easy as deciding to leave and then doing it. There can be concerns about safety, finances, children’s well-being or other things. Still, getting clear about what is best for all is an important first step.




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