You have to leave before you are ready.

Leave what? Whatever it is you need to leave. Your crappy job, your dead-end relationship, the abusive environment you find yourself in. It sucks, it will hurt, and you will anger or disappoint people. But it won’t hurt anywhere near as much as you think it will. In fact, your agonizing over whether to leave probably hurts far worse than leaving will.

Let me say that again. For most people, agonizing over leaving, quitting or saying no causes more pain than leaving, quitting, or saying no.

I’m going to tell you about the one time in my life I dealt with a Hollywood-style villain. I was working with a financial predator who also dabbled in sexual harassment. She had given me my start in the financial services industry, and since she was extended family she apparently thought I should put up with her no matter how disturbing her behavior was. Well, I thought differently. I left. I quit working with her and started a new business.

Was leaving hard? For a few minutes. It was mostly hard for everyone else, especially those who still, to this day, play her game.

But the new business I started? It worked out quite well, largely because I found an excellent mentor. And how did I find him? He had put an ad on craigslist saying he was looking for an accountant/financial adviser who wanted to rent an office, and learn how to grow a successful practice.

Now why the heck did I respond to that ad in the first place? I was hungry, focused, almost desperate. Why was I so focused? Because I had already quit working with the family member.

His ad also appealed to me because I could tell he had the same investment philosophy I did. But that wouldn’t have mattered if I had been conflicted. If I had still been clinging to that old, awful situation, I would not have been able to commit to a new, healthy business relationship.

Also, look at it from my associate’s perspective. Why would he want to work with me if I was still clinging to a financial predator who also happened to be a family member?

It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about business relationships, romantic relationships, or any other kind of relationship. Sticking around in a dead relationship while you wait for something better to come along will not work. Why? Because it’s precisely your sticking around that causes something better to never come along!