Living Well: Leaving A Negative Situation


No matter how great an opportunity may be in the beginning, there often comes a time when we must pursue a new path in order to evolve and become our best self.

Sometimes those transitions are peaceful and easy to make. Other times, especially in negative situations, departure can be difficult. Emotions may be high, we may feel stuck, or maybe we are a little bit afraid that by leaving the current situation we might be worse off in the future.

For me, relationships and careers in particular are the most challenging to end. Figuring out if I should leave and then how to do it has not come easily. But I have learned a few tools which have made ending a longterm, live-in relationship and closing my fourteen year old company as peaceful and positive as possible.

The first thing for each of these situations that I needed to do was determine whether ending was the right course of action.

When it came to the relationship, I spent a lot of weekend afternoons on long walks contemplating the greater purpose of the time we spent together. I recognized the good that it had served in my life and our growth as people. By deeply honoring the positive aspects of the relationship, I could then allow myself to recognize the not-so-great parts of the relationship which would not serve either of us well in the longterm. I could see the positive from the past as well as the positive that would come for us both in the future.

As for ending my career as a designer, I used this simple question to guide my decision: Would I feel more “me” by staying or leaving the situation?

After asking myself this question I immediately knew that the ability to serve others full-time with business, life, and home consulting allowed me to use my strengths most effectively. It would also quite simply bring me more joy than staying where I was.

Sure, there were lots of doubts about whether my other business pursuits would pay the bills the way the company had in the past, similar to how someone might feel at a salaried job. But the question regarding which career path left me feeling more authentic allowed me to push past my limiting beliefs and go after what I truly wanted.

It allowed me to listen to my intuition instead of my ego’s fears.

Once I had made up my mind about each of these situations, I then had to decide how to end them.

For both the relationship and business, honesty and service were essential.

The break up was eventually a difficult, but mutual decision. After many candid conversations about what we most wanted in our futures, we agreed that being apart was best for us both. Had the ending not been mutual, I still believe that by telling the truth I was ultimately doing the most good for us both.

Once we made the decision to separate we also made a commitment to honor one another as individuals after the break up as much as we had during our relationship. We didn’t remain close over the years since, but we still hold one another in high regard and respect each other and our time together.

It certainly wasn’t the easiest thing to do, but it was the best way to find closure and prepare for my future relationships.

Likewise, closing the business required an honest approach.

Once I was ready to close and had an end date in mind, I needed to alert my customers about the situation. I knew our core customers would be disappointed and sad when the heard the news. But by honestly sharing my reason for closing the shop and my plans for the future of my career, people understood that it was truly in my best interest to move forward.

And though I would have preferred to mentally check out during the last few weeks of the business, I did my best to continue to serve and be as present as I could up until the closing day. I had put a lot of time and effort into that company and I wanted to end strong, rather than throw in the towel at the finish.

Though every situation will vary, I believe that these principles of respect, authenticity, and service can bring the most closure and peace in difficult circumstances.

Four things to consider:
1. Honor the good that has come from the situation as well as the good that can come from evolving in a new direction.
2. Seek the outcome that allows you to feel most authentic.
3. Share your decision honestly and respectfully.
4. Give your best effort as you prepare to leave.