10 Signs It’s Time to Say Goodbye
Every beginning starts with an ending. But knowing when and how to say goodbye can be difficult. To help you move on in your personal or professional life, here are ten signs it might be time to let go and say goodbye and three ways to make it easier.
“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” ~ Steve Jobs
It is said that “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV). I’ve always loved that scripture in the Bible. It puts everything in perspective. It reminds us that nothing lasts in its current state forever. Change is constant, and it is inevitable. When we fight that universal law, we cause ourselves unnecessary grief.
But one of the hardest things to do is to know when and how to let go. How to say goodbye. Saying goodbye is difficult because we remember the good times. We recognize people, places, things, or experiences that once brought us joy, maybe even a sense of purpose and fulfillment. But, unfortunately, nostalgia can keep us stuck.
When a loved one dies. It’s hard to say goodbye. We miss them. Their absence leaves a void that is hard to fill, so we hold on to everything we can that keeps them close.
When a relationship runs its course. Even when the relationship has caused tremendous pain, it can still be hard to let go and say goodbye. We remember the dreams we shared, the hopes we had, and the dark times we weathered together. We think we can survive them again.
When a job or career ends. Whether we chose it or the ending was forced upon us doesn’t change the fact that letting go and saying goodbye is still difficult. Work became a part of our identity for however many years we spent in the job or amassing a career. Coworkers became work friends, and the job became a home away from home. We spend most of our waking hours at our places of employment. So it’s understandable that we feel a loss when it comes time to say goodbye.
When we’re not who we used to be. A part of our self-concept changes. This can be the most difficult to let go of and say goodbye. For example, suppose we’ve always seen ourselves as a parent or spouse, a leader in the community or manager at work, and life circumstances change that part of our identity. In that case, it can be hard to accept.
Goodbyes are hard. But all of us experience them. We experience them throughout our entire lives. And if we reflect on the goodbyes we had to make in our past and are honest with ourselves, most of them did not surprise us. The Universe has a way of showing us signs that a goodbye may be approaching.
We don’t always heed the warnings. We fight back. And sometimes, we are given a reprieve. Sometimes we win, if only temporarily. But most often, we know when an ending is coming. Just as the quote by Steve Jobs above indicates, something inside us tells us when it’s time to move on.
Here are 10 signs it might be time to let go and say goodbye. Of course, some signs are more evident than others. Some signs pertain to personal relationships, work, or to both.
It may be time to say goodbye if:
- The benefit is less than the effort you put in, and there is no effort on the other person’s/organization’s part to meet your needs.
- Your values are not aligned with the person’s or organization’s values.
- You have outgrown the relationship such that staying would mean you stop growing.
- You feel stuck or trapped, unable to move on with your life.
- Your vision for the future does not match the person’s/organization’s vision, and it becomes apparent that it’s their way or the highway. You are the one who must make all the sacrifices.
- You are no longer inspired or motivated to contribute your best effort. Regarding work, you need more energy to get out of bed each morning.
- You feel you can’t be your authentic self or being your true self is not appreciated. Perhaps you no longer recognize yourself.
- You are made to feel less than or treated in ways that hurt your self-esteem or that are verbally, physically, or emotionally abusive.
- Trust has been broken, and the relationship/environment has become toxic.
- The thought of the person or the organization leads to anxiety, depression, or emotional trauma.
There are other reasons it may be time to let go and say goodbye. Can you think of others?
Saying goodbye is for you, not the other person or the organization. It is a way in which you care for, respect, and show up for yourself. Letting go and saying goodbye to a person, organization, or situation that no longer serves you means you are enabling your growth toward your highest and best self. You are creating the conditions that lead to a healthier future.
Three ways that can make it easier to say goodbye are:
- Do a cost-benefit analysis. Write down the costs and benefits of remaining as you are and the costs and benefits of saying goodbye and moving on. Be as objective as you can. Use facts and specific situations in your analysis. Undoubtedly, you will gain clarity about the situation, and making the right decision for you will become easier.
- Write a letter. Write a letter to yourself, the person you’re having a relationship with, or the company or your manager at work. Explain what is going on from your perspective and how it makes you feel, what your needs are, what you’re willing to do to improve things, and what you need from them. Put it all down. Be clear on your non-negotiables. Meaning if they can’t meet those, then goodbye is your only self-respecting answer. Sit with the letter for a few days. Instead of sending the letter to the person, schedule a conversation. With a clear mind, share your letter’s main points. Come to a workable solution or say your goodbyes.
- Seek help. Sometimes letting go and saying goodbye is too challenging to do alone. We need someone to help us. In personal relationships, you may ask a family member, friend, clergy, or therapist to help you. You may ask your manager, human resources professional, or coach for assistance in the work environment. Trained professionals can help you come up with an approach that feels right to you and can also help you create a plan to move forward after the goodbye.
Ultimately, we must begin to see goodbyes as a way of life. They are necessary if we are to move on and grow. By fighting or delaying goodbyes, we can keep ourselves from something even better waiting for us. We can remain stuck.
Each goodbye, however challenging it may be, teaches us something that makes us better, stronger, wiser, and more resilient.
Every new beginning starts with an ending. Learn to say goodbye with love, acceptance, and gratitude.
“If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.” ~ Paulo Coelho
Thanks for reading and being a part of the Your Aha! Life Global Community. I hope you found this article helpful. If you are struggling to let go and say goodbye, try one of the three actions to make it easier for you. For every goodbye, a new hello awaits. Please share the article with your friends.
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