How to know when it’s time to move on

Loyalty and perseverance are highly praised attributes. It takes strength of character and will to stick with something—or someone—when the going gets tough. However, an equally important skill is knowing when to let go and when to move on for the sake of your mental health.

Many people struggle in relationships, jobs, and other situations, unsure of when it is time to throw in the towel. The thought of walking away from an important person or situation can bring up a lot of emotions, including fear, anger, embarrassment and shame. Sometimes, a painful yet familiar situation is preferable to an unfamiliar situation. Not only do most humans have familiarity bias, or preferring the known to the unknown, but stepping into an uncertainty can feel like a big risk or a gamble.

If you’re questioning whether it is time to move on from a certain situation in your life, here are five important things to remember. Keeping these tips in mind may help make the decision easier.

  1. Understand why you were in the situation in the first place. There is always a reason for our choices—some important need that we were attempting to get met by choosing a certain course of action. Instead of making yourself wrong for your current predicament, appreciate your reasons for getting yourself into a particular relationship or situation and all you have gained and learned from that choice.
  2. Be kind to yourself. It will be harder to make a rational decision about your future if you are in a state of self-judgement and frustration. Express compassion and gratitude for yourself, even if you find yourself in the middle of a situation that is no longer serving your highest good.
  3. Talk to close friends. If you are debating whether it is time to move on to something bigger and better, talk to your close friends, family members and colleagues you respect. These individuals can offer valuable insight into your life and your situation that will help you make the best choice moving forward. Friends, family members, or partners who have known you a long time can be particularly helpful.
  4. Take small steps. When making a big change in life, like moving or quitting a job or ending a relationship, there is a temptation to go to extremes and make the transition a dramatic one. Instead, take small, intentional, steps toward your next goal. This will help prevent a rebound effect and will give you a better chance at succeeding in your new path.
  5. Don’t rush yourself. The only person who really knows whether it is time to move on from a situation is you. If you don’t feel you are ready to take a big step, you might not be. Take time to sit quietly and tune into your emotions and inner experience. By giving your intuition time and space, you will be able to hear the small voice inside that tells you when it is time to move on.