I wrote yesterday. . . well I pointed to the concept of resilience and building ours slowly through new methods of connecting with others beyond physical means. Another concept I feel worth our inner attention is knowing when to move on. Not a disrespectful manner or tossing all care and concern about another or an issue aside. No Im referring to a skill of knowing when your actions and presence are serving no merit for others or yourself. This is “responsible” moving on.

Many things in life will be easy to learn, some of them will be explicit, like how to do your laundry, invest your income, and raise your children. Some of them will be subtle and/or abstract, but important nonetheless. Ideas such as how to respond to illness, deal with rejection, and what to do when a relationship isn’t working. These are on small levels abstract, yet we learn to negotiate them. There are others as well.

One of the most valuable skills that everybody would benefit from learning, should they want to live a fruitful life, is when to move on.
Moving on, and thinking beyond the issues, can be a difficult task for a number of reasons. First, we may be emotionally connected, or even addicted, to that from which we need to move on. Second, it can be hard to strike a balance as to when to let things go, and when to keep pushing forward because we’ve already invested so much. When we make the mistake of holding on for too long, behavioral sciences call this the “sunk costs fallacy.”

Individuals commit the sunk cost fallacy when they continue a behavior or endeavor as a result of previously invested resources (time, money or effort). This fallacy, which is related to loss aversion and status quo bias, can also be viewed as bias resulting from an ongoing commitment. For example, individuals sometimes order too much food and then over-eat just to “get their money’s worth”.  Similarly, a person may have a $20 ticket to a concert and then drive for hours through a blizzard, just because she feels that she has to attend due to having made the initial investment. If the costs outweigh the benefits, the extra costs incurred (inconvenience, time or even money) are held in a different mental account than the one associated with the ticket transaction.

Fortunately for us, the complications of moving on can be minimized by this basic concept – knowing when to move on is knowing when to let go, whether that be to a relationship, a situation, or even just an idea you still hold about yourself. It is important that we forgive ourselves for making mistakes but it is also crucial that we stop and take a moment to learn something from them, make them our teachers and not our problems. As we become more mature and competent individuals, we begin to truly understand that everything will pass. This is why knowing when to keep moving forward is so intimately tied to personal development and emotional maturity.

When we decide it is time to let go, we must go forth with a plan so we have the confidence to know where we are going. We can’t connect our dots for they are ahead of us and the big picture incomplete; the dots only make sense when the picture is complete. So you have to move your pencil forward knowing that the dots will somehow connect. You have to trust in your steps and know you will complete the path.

Peace and Love, Jim

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