\ Saying Goodbye to Say Hello | Christina Brandt

Hugs All 'Round  Picture the scene:  a tarmac in the middle of nowhere.  A small plane arrives, dropping off the next lucky group who’ll experience the magic of the South African bush.  Off to the side is a group who must say goodbye.  Hugs all around, but no one’s willing to board the plane.  I found myself in this situation, saying “Guys, if we don’t say goodbye to this adventure we can’t have any new ones.”

I’m often reminded of those words because most of us are holding onto something that’s keeping us from our next adventures:  closets stuffed with stuff we don’t need or want, icky relationships, ideas that something in our past should have been other than it was, beliefs that we couldn’t possibly realize our dream, etc.
I often write about the themes of letting go and clearing because it’s essential to the process of creating the lives we desire. Who among us hasn’t stayed too long at a party, not known when to quit, held on too long, or overstayed our welcome at least once?  I suspect very few, because recognizing when it’s time to say goodbye is a skill that most of us aren’t taught.

In his book, Necessary Endings, Dr. Henry Cloud says “Being alive requires that we sometimes kill off things in which we were once invested, uproot what we previously nurtured, and tear down what we built for an earlier time.  Refraining, giving up, throwing away, tearing down, hating what we once cherished – all are necessary.  Endings are the reason you are not married to your prom date nor still working in your first job.  But without the ability to do endings well, we flounder, stay stuck, and fail to reach our goals and dreams.  Or worse, we remain in painful and sometimes destructive situations.  Endings are crucial, but we rarely like them.

So, how does one “do an ending” well?  Start by answering these questions:

  • What does “ending” mean to you?  Can you get to a point where you recognize that “life is a series of hellos and goodbyes,” as the song lyrics tell us, making them a normal and even expected part of your life?
  • Can you recognize that in some parts of your life, there’s just “too much” and that letting go could bring peace?
  • Where in your life are you hanging on with hope, despite the fact that deep inside, you know there are no objective reasons to support your (in)action?
  • Do you want the same reality/frustration in your life a year or two from now?  Really imagine what it will be like to wake up two years from now in the same situation.  How does that feel?
  • Get clear about what it’s costing you (time-wise, energy-wise, or financially) to stay in the status quo.
  • How could your life be different if you ended this?  Your brain is designed to help you create the future – it seeks out information/people/situations in your environment that support your vision.  So, imagine the future as you’d like it to be, and let your brain help you create it.
  • Assuming you’re ready to make a change, who/what will support you in ending this situation?  How can you elicit the support you need?
  • How can you create a sense of urgency to drive you forward?  Accountability partners, with whom you set deadline dates and consequences for missing them, can be a big help in getting (and keeping) you moving.
  • Grieve.  Yup, grieve.    Cry, burn letters, create a ceremony…honor the fact that you are finishing something in order to begin something new.

If you’ve been feeling stuck, chances are good that it’s time for something to end.  Getting clear and honest about what needs ending is a critical factor in creating a life and career you love.


  1. Judy says:

    Chris, I love this!
    We adult children tend to have a somewhat misplaced sense of loyalty, which can keep us in jobs/relationships/places/… far longer than is serving us.

    This is really helpful – thank you!
    Judy x

  2. chris says:

    Glad you enjoyed it, Judy. Yes, “icky” loyalty can be an issue for many people.

    Dr. Cloud’s book is great – perhaps another one to add to your reading pile?!

  3. Caitlin says:

    Chris I just loved this! Very timely for me on many levels. It was just the right new ‘spin’ for me on an old topic around how I associate endings with loss, and it gives me much to think about with a new lens. Thank you!

  4. chris says:

    So glad to help, Caitlin. I’m teaching a one-hour teleclass on this topic on January 18, if you’d like to dive deeper.

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