Years ago I dated a heroin addict. I used to say she threw away our relationship over dope. Not true. The only relationship she ever really had was with heroin. I was just a side chick.

And yeah, yeah, I can hear it already. “Of course it’s a relationship! We’ve been together five years! I don’t want to throw away all the time I’ve invested in this.” I remember telling myself the same sorts of excuses. Problem is, the number of years you’ve put into something only proves you have a habit. It doesn’t prove you have a relationship. You might have been investing in a relationship, or you might have been investing in mere co-dependence.

It’s the same thing with careers, jobs and financial investments. We use the word “invest” in all sorts of contexts, but is that verb accurate?

For instance, have you been at the same company ten years? Great! But that doesn’t prove you have a career. It proves you have a job, and maybe a job is what you need. I’m not knocking jobs. I had to work mere jobs for about a decade or so, mostly because of a messed up mindset that held me back. But the point is, the mindset didn’t change first. What changed first was that I just got tired of the old way of living, and started trying out new options. A career developed out of that experimentation.

It’s not always a great idea to wait for your heart and soul to change. Maybe it’s time to try new things now.

I know, you have that voice in your head saying, “Don’t lose what you’ve already got!” But the question is, what do I have, really? Do I really have a career? Or do I just have a boss? Is this piece of real estate really an investment? Or is it just a sinkhole? Is this really a trusting, caring, growing relationship? Or is it…something else?

Some of us need to be less afraid to lose. I don’t know what to call what I had with that heroin addict, but I now can admit what I didn’t have. I didn’t have a relationship.

And you can’t lose what you don’t have.