As a coach, my focus is on serving clients who are entering into - or mired in - a season of transition. I'm the coach for you if something in your life has come to an end. Maybe it's the job; maybe it's the relationship. Maybe it's the tribe, belief, or identity that is no longer serving you in this new place.
Or maybe it's as *simple* as recognizing the end of what you can no longer tolerate as acceptable. The gray winter between what was and what’s next is often undervalued for the fertile soil of learning it may produce. Afterall, as with the seasons, something is becoming during this time.
All endings give way to new beginnings. Thus, I’m often curious in my own life about what’s the next thing that wants to end?
I found myself sitting with this question recently and stumbled upon a bit of internal conflict. How does one determine if what they’re experiencing is a necessary ending or a test of their grit? Thought leaders seems to share differing opinions on the matter.
For example, in works such as The Dip, Seth Godin speaks often about sunk costs and new decision points, essentially when to quit and when to persevere. Then again, in The War of Art, Steven Pressfield describes “resistance” as that force or energy that opposes the creative process, (and which then must be defeated).
So when there’s a pain point in our lives, how do we determine if that pain is tied to an ending that we won’t let go of, or if it’s resistance that we must push through?
At that particular moment in my life, in fact, there was a pain point, a resistance. “Do I ignore sunk costs and pull the plug?” I asked myself, “or play the long game and keep grinding?”
Here’s what my curiosity generated.
First, consider the pain and the prize, such as the correlation between childbirth and the joy of beholding new life. I had to ask myself: what’s giving birth here? Is the pain I’m feeling a natural part of the process of what is becoming? In my case, the answer was “no.” The pain was tied to people on my project who were negatively impacting my desired state. Their behavior was/is never going to change. Nothing was becoming; in fact, what I wanted to become was being hindered. Pain without a prize.
Second, notice the resistance and the respite. Imagine pushing an object up a mountain: it’s heavy, painful, uncomfortable, costly. But you know that this effort is momentary, and you know that plot of earth where you will crest the hill, reflect on what you’ve learned, and be grateful for what you’ve accomplished. For example, the pain of learning how to build your website will not always be present, for someday you will have a finished (enough) product. However, pulling dead weight is a different energy altogether. Maybe you opted to have someone build your site, and the developer is sandbagging your momentum, screening your calls, and failing to deliver. You cannot foresee a respite in regard to this person’s disposition. (Interestingly, even as I capture these thoughts, the theme of person vs. process keeps surfacing).
So what happened in my personal example? Did I accept (and implement) the necessary ending? Or did I persevere through the challenge?
What ended for me was the emotional attachment to the outcome: I realize now that I can let go of this effort when and if the time comes. I'll be ok, life will go on, new opportunities will rise from the ashes. But I'm also willing to live with the pain for now, having gained a new perspective and appreciation of the benefits that are present. This will continue to develop and evolve, and I'm grateful for the learning I've experienced.
What about you? Is the scent of ending in the air? Or are you inspired to double down and strive toward the prize?