One Foot Out of The Door
The expression one foot out of the door is used to express a condition wherein your character has mentally but not logistically moved on. It could be a job, a family, a relationship, or a place. They have already envisioned an alternative reality and are anxious to explore it. Certain personality types live one foot out of the door. For others, it creates a true dilemma. The conflict arises when they are not free to leave just yet.
It’s so hard to stay when you desperately want to leave.
1) In a Romance, one partner may be ready to move on. He or she may have envisioned what it might be like to be with someone else. Perhaps they have that someone already picked out. This creates the will they stay or will they go push-pull.
2) In a Mystery, this dynamic creates internal conflict when Dick must solve one last case when he'd rather be spearfishing in Fiji. His partner may be eagerly anticipating a promotion and chafing at having to finish the case.
3) In a Literary or Young Adult Coming of Age tale, this dynamic forms the battleground of the young adult striving for autonomy while still coping with parental expectations and restrictions. Every parent and teenager has dealt with this rocky road from tweenhood through college. It could be told from the parent’s or teen’s point of view.
4) In a Historical tale, Dick may be trapped in a city or small town while dreaming of moving west. He is eager to go, yet something forces him to stay. Perhaps he dreams of being a sailor but must stay and deal with his sick parent while his peers take off on great adventures.
5) In a Thriller, this can affect Dick’s dedication to solving the overall story problem. He may be ambivalent about the cause, the people involved, or his role in it because he'd rather be somewhere else.
Use internal conflict scenes and internal narrative to illustrate the character’s impatience, impaired decision making, fantasizing about the new reality, anxiety, anger, and frustration. He can step forward then step back until a crisis forces the issue. You can close the door on your character, preventing him from ever leaving or you can set him free, allowing him to slam the door behind him. The artistic choice is yours.