There’s a trick to the Graceful Exit.
It begins with the vision to recognize when a job, a life stage,
a relationship is over – and to let go.
It means leaving what’s over without denying its value.
– Ellen Goodman
I snapped this picture at Balboa Park in San Diego. These two rescue birds were on display in a tree when they were visited by an unwanted guest. The squirrel made himself right at home but the one bird looked like he was saying, “That’s enough. Isn’t it time for you to go?”
A job that bores you to tears
A toxic relationship
A group or club that you have no interest in anymore
Familiarity. Fear. Complacency.
All of these play a roll in staying too long. It’s much easier to grit our teeth and talk to that toxic friend for a half hour than to be straightforward and say, “Your negative attitude is sucking the life out of me.”
Familiarity is like saying, “I’m used to it.” I’m used to him/her being negative. I’m used to watching the clock at work. Every Tuesday at 7 PM, I attend the meeting of the (insert group or club name here) even though I really don’t want to go.
Fear keeps us in place by magnifying our worse-case scenario to the nth degree. If I leave my job/position, we’ll run out of money and end up on the street. If I break off my friendship, he/she will spread rumors about me. All my other friends will end up hating me.
Complacency is the silent killer. It means you’re comfortable. Things kind of suck but don’t suck enough to make you leave.
Leaving is not easy. Tony Robbins talks about pain and pleasure. We’ll continue on the same path until the pain (“I can’t take it anymore!”) simply forces us to make a change.
I struggle with these three things all the time. I once held a position at work for a few years. There came a point when I would sit at my desk and stare blankly at my cubicle wall. I desperately wanted to do something different. When a position opened up in a different part of the company, I applied and was subsequently offered the job. Sounds like a good thing, right? Not so easy. Even though I was blessed with what I was looking for (a new position), as crazy as it sounds, familiarity, fear and complacency almost prevented me from taking the job. I literally had to force myself to move forward.
Where in your life do you need to “go?” Is it a nowhere job that you’re starting to (or already) dread. A relationship that is poisoning your spirit? An ongoing commitment that’s a drain on your time? Identify these things and start making your getaway plans.
There are different strategies to help you break away – too many to mention here. But your first task will be to identify the areas you need to leave behind. Yes, it will be difficult (and sometimes painful). But in the long run, it will all be worth the sacrifice.
Where do you need to “go” in your life?