One of the hardest parts of an ending—whether it’s the end of a relationship, a job (or a whole career), or your residence in a home or city—is the knowledge and acceptance that this will have been it.
When you’re going—really going—a particular insidious voice can show up in your head. I call this voice the Never-Dids.
“But I never finished…”
“But I/we never got to…”
“But I haven’t gotten this perfect yet.”
When there’s always a tomorrow in that place, job, or relationship, there’s always a possibility to do better, to complete more, to enjoy or experience more, to perfect and hone.
When tomorrow will find you somewhere new…that’s when the Never-Dids come out to play.
When I was 27, I had a tonsillectomy. After years of having horrible throat pain and other complications every time I had so much as a flicker of a cold, I finally saw an ENT who suggested I get the nasty things taken out.
He warned me that as procedures go, an adult tonsillectomy is “not pleasant.”
I nearly screamed, “I don’t care! Take them OUT!!!!!”
I was ready to put the years of tonsil torture behind me.
As it happened, in the couple of weeks before my tonsillectomy, I had fallen—hard—for someone I’d started to date.
This was one of those horse-before-the-cart deals; strongly encouraged by the signals I was seeing—and, yeah, okay, probably by some signals I wanted to see—Ilet myself fall way too fast.
When I work with people who have decided to make a major change in their relationships or careers, one of the most common themes I hear is regret about having waited until now:
“I knew things weren’t going well. Why didn’t I end it sooner?” “I wasted so much time.” “I could have been over this and moving on a year ago, but instead I stayed stuck.” “All those years and nothing to show for it.” “I lost x months/years of my life.” “I knew in my heart it was time to go…but I stayed for years.” “All my friends told me I should leave, but I didn’t listen.” “If only…I just wish…Why couldn’t I have…”
Today I want to teach you a 6-step process that will help you banish the guilt and self-punishing and help you turn that “doomed” relationship or “dead-end” job into one of the best things that ever happened to you—even after the fact.
Print out this list and keep it on your bedside table, desk, or fridge until you are through your breakup. That way, when you find yourself:
reaching for that phone to call your ex in spite of yourself
constantly checking and rechecking your ex’s Facebook page
or just lying in a lethargic lump on your couch, replaying the same conversations over and over in your head,
…all you have to do is pick up the list and choose something. Make yourself just do it. If the toxic breakup gremlin tries to pull you back into inaction or unwanted action, say, “Thank you for inviting me, but I’m busy right now.”
As a coach, I believe wholeheartedly in the grey areas—of life, and of relationships.
Few things are black and white.
There are so many negotiables.
We choose to honor certain values over others. We decide that there is enough “right” to make it worth accepting or working on the “wrong.”
Yes—when it comes to differences, conflicts, and incompatibilities in a relationship, there is a lot you can work with.
There’s room for give and take.
There’s a place for reevaluating what you thought you needed, and being flexible enough to accept someone as they are and make the relationship work.
But there is one fundamental quality that your partner MUST have, and it’s so important that I’m willing to put a stake in the ground for it. So important, in fact, that I’ve named it the Golden Dealbreaker. It will not steer you wrong. Here it is: