How to know whether to stick it out or quit

When things are really, really hard—relationships, job, life—how do you know whether you need to work harder to improve them or it means it's time to make a change?

If you’re Elizabeth Gilbert, you go into a quiet place like your bathroom at 3 a.m. and cry and pray to God for the answers. As unrealistic as it seems, it’s probably true that only God knows the answer to this one, and I’ll be the first to call bull on anybody who says he could answer this one for you.

But what I can suggest with a clear conscious is to follow Rilke’s advice that we love the questions and be patient with all that is unresolved in our hearts. If you are loving the questions, it means you haven’t gotten hijacked by the power of the unpredictable reinforcement schedule. That’s just a fancy name for when you get attached or addicted to something because it doesn’t come to you in a predictable way. It’s how casinos make money hand over fist—you always think you’re going to beat the dealer “next time.” Or for an example a little closer to home: Anyone else willing they get hijacked by the “get mail” button on their email window? This is classic unpredictable reinforcement scheduling at its best; you never know when the email from that guy you met at Starbucks or a big new client is going to be there.

So...should you stay or should you go?
To keep you enlightened and loving the questions, I'll try to channel Ms. Eat Pray Love and offer up a few suggestions:
•If the payoff is too unpredictable, get the heck out out.
•If the relationship no longer challenges you and you’ve long since stopped offering up challenges for the other person, get the heck out.
•If you’ve long had a sense that you’re outgrowing the situation or relationship, get the heck out.
•And if you’ve become a lying, cheating, mean mess, you’ve long been out; go ahead and make it real.

But before you make any decision...
If this post has fired you up to make some big changes in your life, I hope you'll do something important before you send off that resignation letter or tell you man you two "need to have a talk." I invite challenge yourself to accept what the relationship has to offer while you willingly eschew what you wish it would offer. Does that job you're thinking of ditching happily let you take off early if you want to go watch your kid's soccer game? Does your husband cook dinner every night so you can meditate? When you take your ego out of it and get your head out of the clouds (or somewhere else!), you open up an opportunity to keep your soul clean and maintain your soul connection to another.

Here's my bottom line
I believe in keeping your circles from being unbroken (if you can). I believe in doing the often boring and hard work to maintain infrastructure of your relationships (if you can). I believe in living the questions (if you can).

Be peace, be love,