A good ending is important. By good, I don’t mean perfect or rosy or even happy. Even a crunchy, hard ending can be good. Maybe a better word is clean. A clean ending is important. Like a clear, clean break-up. (As if I ever had one of those.)
Without an ending, stuff you don't want will stick and come with you on your journey like an unwelcome parasite.
(Disclaimer: This story is told with client permission. In fact, she feels like a rock star to see her story in print!)
One of my clients called for her session in tears last week. She had wanted to change jobs for two years and finally accepted a new position. She gave her notice with joy. Then she entered a period where she felt nothing. Until, one day, big emotions started pouring out.
She was baffled and relieved to be experiencing sadness. As she talked about the company she was leaving, her deep relationships and the many important experiences she had there became clear. She had grown up as a person and as a professional at this company. Leaving represented saying good-bye to the person she had been and entering her new job further evolved.
Before she could move forward, she needed to end well, to close the experience of this job cleanly.
From her experience, here are the things you can do to create clean endings for yourself whether you are ending a job, a relationship, or an important experience:
- Say good-bye to things that need to be left behind. You can say a quiet good-bye to yourself or have conversations or create rituals that enable you to let go. I once burned a stack of letters from an old boyfriend as a ritual to ensure that he left for good.
- Honor important relationships. When you leave a job or an event, tell people what they meant to you and what you learned from them. Do it even if you cry. Do it even if the relationship was hard.
- Choose the insights you want to take with you. You get to decide what to take to your next opportunity or relationship. Be conscious of how you’ve evolved, claim those things, and add them to your life toolbox.
Whenever you leave, consider how to give the experience an end. Whether it’s a quick hug at the end of a dinner party, a tearful conversation, or a ritual burning of letters, a good ending leaves you free to begin the next step of your journey from a fresh, clean place.