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  • Writer's pictureSara Broadhurst

When it ends...


It seems that there are a lot of people leaving their workplace right now - either through personal choice or through their employer's choice.

Whether it's your choice or someone else's choice, endings are tricky. They bring up all sorts of feelings, trigger emotions from other endings and, even for the most stoic of us, result in fears driven by uncertainty. And hey, endings happen to all of us, sooner or later, so it's just one of those things that, as adults, we should make sure we have the skill for. Thinking about how you would successfully handle an ending, when you're not in the turmoil of having to deal with it is useful. No one (sensible) throws themselves into the ocean without knowing how to swim. Check out these three tips for handling an ending with aplomb:

1. Feel the feels

John Gottman and Julie Schwarz Gottman know something about relationships. They established the Gottman Institute which has over 40 years of research on relationships. If you research relationships, then you also understand endings. Painful feelings tend to be attached to endings, whether you chose that ending or not, and we tend to try and dismiss or suppress those feelings. As we all know, suppressed negative feelings tend to pop up somewhere else when we least expect them. In addition, when we numb our negative feelings we tend to numb our positive feelings too, resulting in a situation where we haven't dealt with our feelings about the ending and those feelings impacting us for much longer than we expect. The Gottman Institute encourage us to turn positively towards our feelings, even those ugly negative ones, to truly deal with them and to stay engaging with the great feelings. So take some time and feel the feels.

2. Look after your personal brand

Brands are not made in the easy times. We can all be polite, caring, creative, innovative, generous when the stakes are low and we feel safe and confident. Brands are made in the tough times, when others are feeling vulnerable or when you are feeling shook. Have a think now, when you're not under pressure, about what you want your brand and reputation to be, what you want to be famous for. If you're not sure, check out the VIA Character Strengths Finder tool. It is a reliable and valid tool (which we use with our clients) enabling users to find the language to describe the things that are important to them. Aotearoa New Zealand is a small place and your personal brand counts - so make sure you know what you want to stand for. When we're under pressure, if we can recall that we want to be known for a particular behaviour or trait, then we are likely to avoid any ill-chosen actions.

3. It's just one more step on the journey

As humans, we can get stuck in the emotional moment (which isn't to say you shouldn't feel the feels, just don't set up camp there) and we're very good at catastrophizing. "If I leave this job, maybe no one will ever hire me again" or if you don't get the promotion you want, you'll end up in a "flophouse in Duluth". Check out Dan Harris' 10% Happier for more on how quickly we shift from being a hugely successful TV anchor to thinking we are going to be homeless. When we do remember, "this isn't the last job I will do" it helps us to keep things in perspective - both the starts and finishes. It helps us to understand that we are moving from one stepping stone to another. While the next stone may not be obviously visible, trust that it's there and multiple stepping stone options will appear to us. Martin Seligman's research on and concept of Learned Optimism is a great resource for building capability if you suspect you're more on the glass-half-empty end of the spectrum.


Try out some of these techniques, even reading some the links or listening to a podcast can be helpful for refreshing your thinking and approach, before you have to use the skills. And remember - an ending might happen for you this year or it might not... but either way, just know, you will be great!

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