We hate to end things, particularly relationships. We fight against the finality. Yet, argues Bill Douglas, that finality is what we actually need to find our true fulfillment. Here are his thoughts.
Finality leads to freedom. Finality can sound so bad, yet it can be so good. The decision and act of finally closing the book on something I had felt I was bound to – by choice – was extremely difficult, yet it actually led to my freedom.
There have been times in my life that I had to make a resolution to go through an evolution. Until that conscious choice, the dismal abyss of indecision and low self-esteem commanded each day.
For too long I was stuck, mourning what had passed (or was going to pass) and that delayed my ability to embrace what was coming next.
What passing, you ask? What did I have to put to rest… finish… move beyond? Actually, a few times in my life I’ve had to do this: redefine all that was once known to best serve my newly created reality.
As a young entrepreneur:
I had to let go of a business I loved. Invigorated, I never felt like I was working. The upside and the dreams had me so enthralled. My energy levels were through the roof.
However, business is ruthless. A business without cash is like a body without oxygen… it dies. That time came: plenty of customers, not enough money to fill all the orders. We’d grown too quickly. Without filling the orders there’s simply not enough profit. At the time it sounded unthinkable.
I had to put this fast-growth business down and move past it. The finality of it was a tough pill to swallow, but I did it. Closed the books and took the time to do a post mortem. I wish then I had known the concept of the reboot.
After I could identify the silver lining of these trying circumstances, then my mind and my time were free to identify new opportunities. One, in particular, was exponentially better than my last business and I proceeded to build that into a great success.
As a friend:
When I was 25, the concept of removing someone from my life, particularly someone I’d once thought of as a friend, would have sounded cold, ruthless, or arrogant. When I was 40, it became clear I needed to do this.
A particular friendship began draining me – quite the time sponge and emotional anchor. I don’t mean simply every once in a while, I mean all the time.
When this person crossed a core value of mine, the decision became clear. Clear does not mean easy. The finality from that crucial conversation was not immediately freeing. It brought guilt at first, and then it led to the awakening that this was a good thing. It was a breath of fresh air to me and all my other friendships.
As a husband:
I spent the better part of two years stuck mourning what I knew was going to happen. Ironically, when it finally became the past, I let it delay my ability to embrace what was coming next.
I knew, we both knew, that the marriage wasn’t working. She was more candid about it that I was. Not cruel; clear. I heard her, but did not want to accept what she said.
I wanted to change her mind. I wanted to change and be everything she said she wanted. Problem is, that wasn’t me. The person she wanted was different than the me I had become. We had clearly grown apart, and each wanted different things for the next phase of our lives.
Finality. Deciding that our marriage was over was one of the hardest days of my life. I did most of my grieving while I was still married. By the time I filed, I was clear on the why and my anger had dissipated.
I had evolved in my 17 years of marriage, no doubt: as a person, a father, a partner. But only after the marriage ended did I take such a major growth step in my life. Even after divorce, it took me many months. I struggled to fully release, forgive, and move forward.
After I’d resolved to close that chapter of my life, I was free to pursue dreams again. You know what I’m talking about. The dreams I thought I couldn’t do, or maybe I just had an excuse not to try because of my status quo.
Ending our family unit was painful. I wouldn’t wish that upon anyone. However, I’m an optimist so I choose to see the good in life.
The silver lining of such trying circumstances enabled me to become a better father, a better entrepreneur, and a better friend. I became much more philanthropic, focused on positively impacting others.
As examples, after my divorce I:
- Travelled to Haiti in the aftermath of the huge earthquake, something I’d never have considered 2 years earlier. Being in a city riddled with a quarter million dead was humbling and life altering.
- Operate a group for divorced entrepreneurs, a place for those in the precarious and lonely, often disastrous, post divorce quandary, which I believe deserves more attention within the entrepreneurial community.
That finality motivated me to live again in strength. Physical strength, yes, and more importantly, to live with emotional strength. Self-esteem returned, as did success. I used to allow myself to live life as that weak, self-defeating soul that I was, and I committed to myself to end that state of mind. I chose to reject those negative feelings. Life began anew, with vigor!
Three scenarios. Three closures. Three instances of finality… all bringing freedom for living, growing, and loving.
In my experience, finality leads to freedom. I knew when it was time. These were not rash decisions. I contemplated them thoroughly, and my gut was right.
Personal freedom is… Incredible. Some may associate “freedom” with loneness or being alone. To me, it’s the ability to be myself, confidently and happily. And, even better, to have relationships within which I can live freely with trust and candor.
Life is a Gift!
Bill Douglas, “ResilienceGuy”, is an accomplished Mentor, Coach & Speaker helping executives & entrepreneurs with growth & strength. He can be reached at [email protected] See this and other posts in Bill’s Blog: www.resilienceguy.com/blog/