I was watching the “Bourne Identity” last night again and was struck by the scene where Jason and Marie are in the diner enjoying their coffee. Jason tells her that he’s already cased the joint for the best exit; he knows where the best getaway car is parked. He knows how to get out if the situation goes sideways.

It reminded me of a conversation I recently had with a friend, where we both admitted at one point or another to having “one foot out the door.”

The problem with always thinking about an escape route is that you don’t invest in the current situation – you don’t give it your full attention and you don’t give it a chance.

A job that you don’t dedicate yourself to because you’re always looking for some way out becomes unsatisfying.

A relationship that you don’t invest in withers because you don’t commit to making it the best it can be.

Everything in our life thrives with attention. When we’ve got one foot out the door, we don’t give our lives a chance to thrive. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy: we expect a situation to fall short so we don’t invest the energy required to make it succeed.

But what if you couldn’t leave?

What if you HAD to stay, and make the best of a situation?

I’ve played this game with myself with dramatic results. The apartment that was driving me batty, the job that was boring me to tears. I asked myself, what if I couldn’t leave? What would I do differently?

The job became more engaging because I dug in and started doing stuff to make the best of it. The apartment became more livable because I cleaned it and bought some comfortable furniture.

The relationship… well, that’s a different story. Sometimes pretending you can’t leave makes you realize how essential it is to do so. Quickly. And that provides its own clarity.

Try this journaling exercise at home. Think about a situation you’re in right now that’s not going how you’d like. Maybe you want to leave your job but you can’t afford to right now. Maybe your relationship or your living situation is not optimal.

As yourself:

  • What if I couldn’t leave?

See if making the best of what you’ve got makes the situation a little more livable.

Or if it makes you realize it’s time to take that “one foot out the door” and turn it into two!