Time to Walk Away?

One of the most challenging aspects of career transitioning from work that feels like work, to work that you love, is temporarily letting go of the money. It’s just as challenging, when you’re already self-employed and transitioning from an established income stream to one that’s more delightful but temporarily less lucrative.

Even long-time proponents of authentic work can go for the easy money in moments of temporary insanity. I’ve clearly known my core values since 1998 yet just 18 months ago I lost my mind and made a decision unaligned with my values to pick some low hanging fruit. It paid well for a while and I told myself that I’d just work it a few hours a week until I built up a financial reserve. But a funny thing happened, even though financially, my overall situation improved, I began to resent the source of this windfall. I wrestled with myself for months and could not come to a satisfactory decision. So as it often does, life provided a decision for me. I had many less-costly opportunities to let go but I did it the hard way because the fear of letting go was greater than the unknown good on the horizon.

I’m writing about this now because of a comment on my last post on Honoring Commitments from fellow self-employed blogger Cath Lawson. Be sure to visit her blog, for some bold and wise business advice.

Here are the relevant parts of Cath’s comment.
Hi Tom, I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. One of the main reasons I struggle to honour my commitments sometimes, is that I’ll let one horrid task overwhelm me to the point I won’t look at my to do list. It’s something I’m really struggling with. I think I really need to work on getting over the horrid task thing. Most of the ones I dread are connected to a past business. And I think it’s the connections I have the problem with, as opposed to the actual task.

Did you grasp the meaning in her comment? It’s not the tasks that Cath dreads doing but the emotional connections to those tasks. Often when we make a career transition there is residual fallout. There’s stuff we think we need to hang onto and cleanup because it appears to make good business and financial sense. But we all know that appearances can be tricky.

I’m not sure if this is the case in Cath’s situation because I haven’t coached her on it but it certainly was the case in mine. Sometimes it’s better to walk away and forget trying to get over something. Sometimes a clean break is the soundest financial decision.

Once my unaligned decision began to feel like an obligation I should have eaten my losses and made a clean break. That’s what my inner guidance was telling me but I was holding on only for the money and that’s a decision that’s doomed to failure. This once lucrative cash stream became what Thomas Leonard called a toleration.

When you put up with something, it costs you; unnecessary costs are unattractive. Let’s define tolerations as things that bug us, sap our energy and could be eliminated! Tolerations drain you. They make you feel less attractive to yourself. Thomas Leonard

In his excellent book, The Portable Coach: 28 Sure Fire Strategies For Business And Personal Success, Leonard goes on to explain that we unknowingly install tolerations to slow down our personal growth because when we slow down, we are less frightened. However putting up with anything that we could do something about is damaging to our emotional and spiritual well-being. Often we are turning our back on our own inner guidance because we don’t feel ready to make a clean break from a less than authentic past. Yet every time we ignore our own inner guidance it’s like poking a hole in our soul.

How perforated is your soul these days?

What are you putting up with that you could let go of?

Where have you ignored repeated opportunities to make a clean break?

Are you holding on somewhere, just for the money?

If you are, you may want to ask yourself. “What’s the total cost of this ongoing emotional wrestling match? Might the actual cost of walking away now be less?”


  1. As you know, I had to make a similar decision of my own recently. This weekend is the time for me to pull all the related websites offline and I’m SO looking forward to it! I ought to be about a 100,000 pounds lighter come Tuesday morning!

    Suzanne Bird-Harris | Learning Curve Coachings last blog post..Creating Space for Abundance

  2. When I left my last job I really walked away. That last day was very sad in that I left when I was ready, didn’t say goodbye to anyone, grabbed my bag and walked out. The place I worked was so dysfunctional that no one even knew it was my last day. Oh, I forgot, the custodian did. We hugged, I traded gifts, and wished each other well. Pretty sad when the only one an administrator will miss is the custodian. He was the only real person there. He told me once that he really liked me because I treated him like he was somebody….sad.

    Now, I am working on my business. I am very excited but at the same time am trying to figure out how to make up for a monthly difference of $1200 between the bills and the income. Low fruit might look inviting.

    Funny you talk of tolerance. I got kind of blasted on another site for thinking there are limits to tolerance.


  3. Susan/Unique Business Opportunity says:

    What kept coming to mind as I read you post is the question of where does the emotion come from when you’re letting go or starting something new? In recent months I have found some anxiety around some of the projects I have started. Once realized, I decided to look at it because if felt negative. The negativity was from fear. Fear of failing, fear of not doing it well or fear of not being able to keep up with the work load.
    Once I asked myself the question of whether or not the project was in alignment with my core purpose, the anxiety subsided.
    Sometimes when something feels negative to me, it simply needs looked at to see why. You question your thoughts Tom, and that reminds me to question mine.
    Thank you.

    Susan/Unique Business Opportunitys last blog post..Want Time and Financial Freedom?

  4. Hi Tom – when it comes to business they say that it’s best to never burn bridges. I think though if the bridge is so emotionally depleting, then yeah, the clean break would be the healthiest choice.

    Al at 7Ps last blog post..The Criminally-Minded Approach for Achieving Goals

  5. Did you grasp the meaning in her comment? It’s not the tasks that Cath dreads doing but the emotional connections to those tasks.

    Mind-blower! While in my case the dread is unrelated to a business, this concept totally resonated with me. I recently inherited my childhood home and moved in. I brought with me a three-bedroom house full of stuff and tried to cram it into an already-full three-bedroom house. You can imagine the chaos. It looks like–and feels like–I live in a storage unit.

    But sorting, organizing, and cleaning up the chaos is the most dreaded of tasks. How bad is it? I’ve been living with this stagnant mess for 23 months and have barely made a dent. I see now that it’s not the task of sorting itself that I dread, but having to confront the emotional issues of loss, transformation, grief and my past that I dread. As long as Mom’s daily personal bathroom things are in that box in the living room, she’s still “here”. To empty it and throw out most of it means to admit that she’s really gone and will never need this stuff again.

    I suppose this is part of my block about settling the estate as well. Thank you for some startling insights.

    JBs last blog post..Life and…

  6. Peter Ayers says:


    You have a great gift for challenging unexamined thinking.

    As I read your Delightful Work articles, I am compelled to examine my activities and decisions from a far bigger perspective.

    Imagine where our world might be if millions of people, who are settling for their tolerations, would instead listen to their dreams and pursue them.

  7. @JB- Wow! amazing that you are able to glean those truths. Maybe a friend can help you sort through and listen to your heart as you find your memories. Figuring this all out is huge. Good luck to you.

  8. Suzanne you repeatedly show the gumption to do what needs to be done. When it’s time, it’s time. You’ll soon create the space to attract new more delightful work as a result.

    Laurie you may have felt sad but you can hold your head high for choosing your bliss. No one but you can say when it’s time to be tolerant or not. I hope you told them so.

    Susan it’s telling that all of your fears were about some future situation that hasn’t yet materialized. I guess they always are. Congratulations for checking within and and understanding the core you.

    All I appreciate your courage. Every single person that has commented on this thread can deeply relate and each of you has chosen the path less taken.

  9. Al I say screw what “they” say. Donald Trump says it’s not personal, it’s only business and he’s full of it too. It’s all personal; we’re people. Before my big awakening about 10 years ago, I was polite. I didn’t burn my bridges but I did slither away in the dark of night. Now I prefer standing up and speaking my mind. Now I make waves if they need to be made. This feels more like living!

    Peter thanks man, I am more than happy to perform that service. I do imagine such a world where everyone let’s go of what no longer serves them. It’s on its way.

    JB forgive me if I’m over-stepping my bounds here, but it sounds to me as though you’re more ready to truly make your move then you might think you are. What would you Mom wish for you right now?

  10. Glen Allsopp says:

    I find the hardest part of leaving a job is not the security but actually all the people that you are leaving behind, and if you don’t keep in touch then probably won’t see for a while.

    Maybe I’m too emotional 😉

    Glen Allsopps last blog post..The Power of an Abundance Mindset

  11. I yearn to be excellent and financially comfortable at what I would LOVE to do, however, I am financially comfortable at what I currently do and know/feel so at peace that I am currently doing work that positively impacts peoples’ lives ant that it is a challenge to leave this place to go to “that” place. Have I too picked the low hanging fruit? Perhaps. But it tastes good and has numerous phytochemicals that enriches the health of all involved. The real question for me is what is the prompt for the transition you have made, without burning the bridge. (Timing is everything. Remember the movie of when Harry met Sally?)
    Life is short and I treasure it.

  12. Hi Tom – thanks very much for the link and for mentioning my comment. In my case, it’s quite silly. I’m owed a lot of money from a former business, but someone who made my life difficult in the past is trying to stop me from getting it.

    I know I should go over their heads, but you’re right – it’s the emotional connection of doing so that is really putting me off. Every time I think about doing it, I start remembering how bad that person made me feel in the past. It’s silly I guess, because I’m allowing them to control me still, when I shouldn’t.

    Cath Lawsons last blog post..Social Media Sites Of The Future

  13. I’ve struggled with this recently. I work at a job that I really like, but I don’t love it, and it’s not my passion. It also pays we well, and helps me to support my family. And that’s where it get tough for me. Do I look to make a break from a job that I truly do like? To take a chance at what I’m finding is a real passion for me? I guess I know the answer, but taking that leap is a leap of faith I’m not ready for yet. Mentally, I’m not prepared. However, it’s reading things like this that give me hope that I can get there. I think it’s going to take a lot of mental preparation on my part, as well as the belief that I can make it happen.

    Anyway, thanks, this is what I need to continue hearing.

    Lances last blog post..Sunday Thought For The Day

  14. Glen there is no such thing as being too emotional my friend. Feelings arise for a good reason. In your case they are probably there to tell you to keep in touch.

    Susan you’ll never find me in judgment of another’s work life decisions. Each needs to make those calls for themselves. I remember that movie but mostly the fake orgasm in the restaurant. 🙂

    The prompt for me was the feeling of obligation. When work begins to feel like something I must do, I know that I’m not being true to myself.

    Cath there is nothing silly about it. Sure do gop over their head but also you can change the way you feel about dealing with them. If you’d like a very effective method for doing so, send me an email and I’ll be happy to forward an excellent solution.

    Lance yep it’s your choice but you may never feel totally ready to make the leap. You’ll get closer by mentally and emotionally getting more comfortable with it. Also build a financial reserve if you can. It also helps to hang around others who are very positive about the possibilities of work life bliss.

    Have you already identified the work that is your passion?

  15. Leanne Magraith says:

    My situation has a few similarities with Lance’s although I can’t say I really like my job. There are days when I like my job and there have also been days when it I am bored out of my brain.

    I am there because I need the money to pay the (large)mortgage, bills etc. My business is my passion. I have only just started my own business and hope to be able to leave my job one day and be self employed.

    I realised after reading your post that it is not just financial necessity that is keeping me there, there are underlying emotional reasons related to feeling safe and secure.

    I need to be able to fully recognize all of the reasons so that I can be ready to cut my ties and go free as soon as I am able to from a financial point of view and not let emotions get in the way.

    Leanne Magraiths last blog post..Recharging Your Batteries

  16. Leanne you are spot on in your assessment. It’s never just the money. We need to uncover the attached feelings and make sure that we first feel them and then make sure that we set up a transition that feels emotionally strong. You have set the intention that you will one day be on your own. The next step is to define the parameters of that move. When x and y are this I move. Define x and y and then work towards making it happen.

  17. I find that it’s when I let other things go that the things that I truly want and need have more room to enter my life.

    Thanks for posing these excellent questions, they’re certainly food for thought. I’ll be thinking about what tolerations I have allowed to stay and in consequence what they may have cost.

    Bean Joness last blog post.."Click Here to Order" – New Book with Foreword by Mark Joyner

  18. I completely agree that sometimes our progress is stalled because we get scared and subconsciously start to put on the breaks. I use the Sedona Method to help me release any unconscious beliefs I may be holding that keep me from moving forward, as well as any lingering feelings of fear.

    Marelisas last blog post..25 More Ways to Celebrate Life

  19. Bean welcome, you’ve found one of the keys to creating space. By consciously letting go of what we don’t want a natural vacuum is created for the things we do want. You’ll have even more space and energy by eliminating your tolerations.

  20. Marelisa I’m pleased that the Sedona method works for you. I use Emotional Freedom Technique to do the same thing. It’s important to clear any lingering feelings that could be tripping us up beyond our conscious awareness.

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