When to Walk Away: 3 Signs It’s Time to Leave Your Job or Relationship

This lesson has shown up in different situations, both personally and professionally. Let's unpack this and see how it can relate to you and your life. 

The next few paragraphs get a little deep and borderline theological/metaphysical. Still, I think it's relevant to mention it as part of the big picture. If you feel it's too much to digest at the moment, you can skip ahead to the section that says BRINGING IT TOGETHER. 


Faith, by definition, is believing that something is or will happen without having proof in the present moment. Or, as a poster I read said so concisely, "Faith is not hoping that God can, it's knowing that God will." Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, the concept of faith is part of human nature. Parents tell their kids that they have faith in them, bosses say to their employees that they have faith in their abilities, and patients tell their doctors they have faith in their knowledge and expertise. Faith is one of the driving forces in our lives. The question eventually arises: What's the difference between Faith and Trust? As I've come to understand it, trust occurs after you've seen evidence that the outcome happened before. One might argue that the examples of faith I mentioned above are actually examples of trust, but the distinction to keep in mind is that if the desired outcome occurred in someone other than themself, then the individual perceives they are instilling faith because the previously occurring situation did not happen to them. 


A fantasy, on the other hand, as one definition reads, is "an imagined or conjured up sequence fulfilling a psychological need; a daydream." For the 83% of the human population that believes in a higher power (myself included), this definition can feel rather harsh compared to the meaning of faith. For the 17% that don't believe in a higher power, faith and fantasy are synonymous. 


Of course, every person and situation is different. Still, if the desired outcome happens, your faith is validated, and you feel joy, increased self-esteem, and increased faith. If the desired outcome does not occur, feelings of disappointment, anger, doubt, and lower self-esteem may occur.


So, how do you know if you have faith or fantasy? The answer is time! The only way to know is to let time pass, be patient, and see if the desired outcome occurs. But that's the challenge! How long do you wait? How long should you be patient? Should you try and help your desired outcome along? While some outcomes have an exact timeline, such as test results or event dates. Others require YOU to decide to stop waiting or being patient, and again that's the challenge. 

In your personal life, this could be waiting to see if a relationship is going through a bad time or if it's dysfunctional and irreparable. I think we can all relate to a relationship that had a lot of good times, but things became pretty bad. Should I do more? Should I seek help? Should I walk away? Am I giving up? What will I do without this person? What will people think? 

In your professional life, I think most of us can relate to accepting a job with high expectations or big promises offered, only to disappoint. Maybe a boss promised you a raise or benefits by a specific time and then didn't mention it again. Maybe there's more work on your docket than initially proposed, and they promise you more help as soon as they can. But it seems those were empty promises because they never hired more help.

Having faith in a personal or professional or professional relationship is important. Still, it's important not to live in a fantasy and notice when the changes you are hoping for are not likely to happen.   


Here are some indicators it's time to walk away from your job or personal relationship. 

1. It Causes You to Feel Anxious or Depressed.

If your relationship or job causes you to feel nervous or sad often, even by just talking or thinking about it, this is a clear indicator that something about it is not a good fit for you. Remember that symptoms of anxiety and depression can go beyond feeling nervous or sad. It can also manifest itself as changes in eating habits, increased alcohol consumption, changes in sleep quality or patterns, new-onset or increased body pains. If you see feelings of anxiety or depression frequently showing up for you in the same setting of a personal or professional relationship, it may be an indicator that it's time to walk away. It's ok to welcome change and transition. This is self-love and not quitting!

2. Multiple Empty Promises.

Two sayings come to mind to support this point.

The first is:

Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.

The other one is:

A tiger doesn't change its stripes.

Here's where being realistic and brave come together. If your boss promised you something and they disregard it or claim they never said it, ok, hey, mistakes happen. But if it happens again and again, it's time to examine what's going on. Excusing a person for making an empty promise may show that you are the bigger person at first, but keep in mind that if you consistently excuse empty promises, you are actually showing that you find that behavior acceptable. Remember your worth and see that recurrent empty promises are a sign that it's time to walk away. This is self-love and not impatience!

3. You're Afraid to Speak Up.

Relationships, whether personal or professional, require collaboration. Healthy, successful nurturing relationships are democracies, not dictatorships. As such, while a relationship may have an alpha, a leader, the opinions and feelings of the other part(s) of that relationship should have a voice. Many times in relationships, one forgets that the reason why someone chooses another to enter into a relationship with them is because of their individuality, their unique self, which was what they needed at that time. Regardless if you were a receptionist, manager, friend, spouse, etc. If you willingly entered into a relationship with someone, personally or professionally, you were what you needed in each other at that time. That need varies based on the relationship and current situation. It could have been money, help, companionship, someone to talk to or someone or something to pass the time or to feel productive. 

Regardless of the type of relationship, everyone should have a voice and be heard. This does not mean that the other people in the relationship must follow your suggestion every time you speak up; that would be a dictatorship. However, if you bring your ideas, concerns, or feelings to the table and you are consistently dismissed, shot down, or humiliated, for merely suggesting a change, this is a red flag. This can lead to self-doubt, insecurity, and ultimately being afraid to speak up. It may not be that your opinions, feelings, or ideas are not valid; it may simply be that you are no longer a good fit for each other in that relationship. Maybe you have grown as a person and see opportunities that the other doesn't. Perhaps they want someone they can control so that they can feel powerful or important. Maybe your ideas or opinions make them feel insecure. 

Despite the multitude of reasons the other person has for responding the way they do. If you are consistently afraid to speak up because you fear retaliation, humiliation, or termination, this is a sign that it is time to walk away from that personal or professional relationship. This is self-love and not weakness!

Relationships are an inevitable part of the human experience. When they are healthy and functional, they help us grow and become better versions of ourselves. But when they are toxic, they can hold us back and break us down. There's a saying that goes: 

People enter your life for a reason or a season.

I've come to find that we often hold onto relationships that were meant to be for only a season. Fear is behind that decision. Change and transition can be difficult and even scary. But, change is necessary for growth. You are alive in every sense of the word, and as such, it's ok to be open to the possibility that yesterday's choice does not serve today's need. If you find that applies to you, and it is in your best interest to walk away, it doesn't mean that you're selfish, weak, impatient, or quitting. Instead, it means you acknowledge your worth and are putting your self-love into action. 

From what personal or professional relationships have you had to walk away? 

What signs did you see that indicated it was time to welcome change?

Do you feel you need to walk away from a personal or professional relationship but don't know how? What's holding you back?  

I'd love to hear from you.


Important Note:

There's a difference between being in a bad personal or professional relationship and an abusive relationship. If you feel unsafe, please seek help. Here are some resources to help you out. And of course, if you are in immediate danger, call 911.  

Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 799-SAFE (7233); thehotline.org

Bullying: https://www.stopbullying.gov/

Workplace Bullying: https://www.workplacebullyingcoalition.org/ 

Suicide Hotline: (800) 273-8255; https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

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