7 Words Study: Goodbye
Go On! Only Decisions Boost Your Effectiveness
Everything comes to an end, so we need to have a process of completion in order to mark the finish clearly and irrevocably. Firstly there is the realisation that either we have fulfilled our purpose or have discovered that it is unfulfillable. Next the decision, which is a resolution to act upon that realisation and so go through the necessary processes of completion to tie up all the loose ends – which allows us to move on, and successfully let go of the past.
The cycle of ordinary life can be seen as a succession of stages from No to Hello to Thanks and to Goodbye. We don’t like our circumstances (No) so we look outwardly for improvement (Hello), for a time we feel value in a situation (Thanks) and eventually we move on (Goodbye).
Each of the seasons has its own beauty, and each of the ages in life has value. Yet the inertia of habit can make it quite difficult to respond enthusiastically to signs that the season has shifted and that the time has come to change direction. Old cycles have to end so that new cycles can begin — this is nature’s law of constant change. We need to respond, and we’re not sure how — and because our rhythms are comfortable and feel secure, we tend not to step out of the life-track of what is normal for us, yet, if we stubbornly refuse to respond, then the signs of the need for change will strengthen and become more uncomfortable.
A project has three phases: beginning, middle and end. To begin is to express hope, the doing bit in the middle is for joy and the end is a realisation. Our end, in the sense that it is our purpose, is better described as the achievement of realisation. Neither failure nor success is as valuable as realisation. Success does not bring the rewards that are imagined — perhaps the form of them is achieved and measured in the hollow terms of fame and fortune, yet the greater treasure has surely to be realisation.
Perhaps one day we wake up with an uncharacteristic lack of enthusiasm for work, or feel too tired to bother to phone the boyfriend. It may be that the headaches are getting more noticeable nowadays or the empty feeling after sex lasts longer. Somehow, out of the misty ambiguity of feeling, an ill-defined shape of a thought emerges that is a little disturbing and unwelcome — and therefore quickly forgotten, ignored, denied and hidden. Yet of course it returns and gains clarity until the realisation has to be admitted: ‘I have doubts about whether this is right for me anymore’.
Though it is tempting to take the easy path, this is illusion; this path is not easy forever, not even for very long — it seduces us only to catch us, and sooner than we know, we find that it is even more difficult to escape the prison of our patterning. We may want to revise aspects of the path we are following and this revision can apply at the level of method — or deeper — at a level of substance, a re-visioning. Rather than change the job and leave the spouse, we might want to stop getting drunk and being so selfish; this could produce the change we prefer. However if there is dawning a realisation that it is actually the goal itself that is fundamentally wrong then we need to acknowledge that we have reached a crisis.
There is in all decisions a need for timeliness, the right time being not too soon and not too late. If we decide something too early, there may be more information available from which we could have made a better decision, there may be insufficient support from what is around us. Early decisions are made out of impatience, even recklessness, and can lack discrimination and sensitivity. However by waiting too long, the iron once hot may grow cold before we strike. Late decisions are more typical of fearful types who would rather make nothing than make a mistake. A fruit eaten too early or too late is never delicious.
Major decisions will be the enactment of a ‘compelling reality’. In other words we make them out of a sense that ‘what must be must be’ and we have no questions about whether it is right or not — we feel that it has to be this way to express the truth of who we are. A choice can be made out of a sense of personal preference — yet somehow a decision is more than a choice and much more emphatic. It is a ‘cosmic event’, a shift in the framework of reality that touches upon everything else and reworks the operation of one’s destiny. This is an idealistic interpretation perhaps — and yet gives a sense that there are profound questions being resolved about what is our soul’s purpose in life, and these questions are the stuff of the big life decisions. In other cases we tend to select out of expediency rather than principle.
Unless we are ready to commit ourselves thoroughly to our decisions, then they are not truly decisions. If we want our decisions to carry weight, to be effective, respected and to hold good, then we have to be resolute. Other options have ended. It helps our decision if we make an announcement, which calls upon community support to help us be more resolute. Thus, the decision to move on is celebrated and made irrevocable — such as at weddings, graduations, retirement parties and so on. Such announcements bind us into the depth of society, forcing clarification and commitment.
Keywords for Goodbye
There is wisdom in knowing how to balance what has been against what can be. Each of the seasons has its own beauty, and each of the chapters of our life has value, yet the inertia of habit can make it quite difficult to respond enthusiastically to signs that the times have shifted and that the point has come to change direction. Comfortable and secure, we tend not to step out of the life-track of what is normal for us. So we may struggle to realize this: that we are either growing or dying. Let us be aware that a joyless, repetitive, humdrum, mindless life is not life at all; it is dying in disguise.
The Goodbye instant is a link between two stories—the past and the future—which seem rather similar and yet have at least one major axiom different. The past holds us back and the future pulls us forward towards new lessons; we are crucified by any sustained indecision. We have to act. Action demands of us a greater degree of involvement than passivity and we are stimulated to a greater degree to touch depths of feeling that are not always engaged. It requires the resolution of dilemma; dynamically, it gives proof of decision. The very requirement of a decision is that we engage in order to awaken more fully, and penetrate into the deeper recesses of the self. Action can often express some quality or inner decision that might otherwise go unnoticed and would be left in the ethereal world of the unrecognised.
Although Goodbye itself is momentary, the process that surrounds it takes time. It is necessary to close down what has been opened and attend to all outstanding questions so that resolution takes place properly. Typically we don’t want to take responsibility to finish everything off tidily because it is more enjoyable for us to direct attention towards what will be and not what was. Our motivation to ‘do the right thing’ comes out of a sense of self-image that ‘I am the kind of person that finishes what s/he starts’: a dignity of identity. Also it preserves and strengthens will, which otherwise could be undermined. The importance of completion is to do with tying up loose ends so that we can journey into the future knowing that there are no issues that will pull us back and diminish our possibilities for success in what is now about to begin.
Moving on is likely to be an adventure—it is better like this because it helps us to make a clean break—although it can feel rather dangerous. It is good to set off from a prepared position of strength, having some degree of purpose, certainty of resolve and whatever resources we may need for the journey. Enthusiasm, born of the heart, is the joyous motivating vibrancy that carries us forward from a separation towards future involvements, and if we ride this wave as would a surfer then we have the right approach towards meeting an unknown future.
As an old door begins to close we are somehow squeezed to bring out more from a situation. An irreversible ending approaches, and there is an intensity of vitality to be felt, which has an energising effect that pushes us to a deeper level of self-examination and self-expression. Perhaps in this is to be found the greatest gift of all: the wisdom, which validates and explains the purpose for the involvement and the need for it to finish.
The wisdom of Goodbye
The cycle of ordinary life can be seen as a succession of stages from No to Hello to Thank You and to Goodbye. We don’t like our circumstances (No) so we look outwardly for improvement (Hello), for a time we feel value in a situation (Thank You) and eventually we move on (Goodbye).
Everything comes to an end, so we need to have a process of completion in order to mark the ending clearly and irrevocably. Firstly there is the realization that either we have fulfilled our purpose or have discovered that it is unfulfillable. We may not have been entirely clear what our purpose was; yet now there is more understanding. With the 20-20 vision of hindsight we realize it’s done, and to continue would not further our cause. Next comes the decision, which is a resolution to act upon the realization and go through the necessary processes of completion in order that all the loose ends are tied up neatly and cannot reach into our future life to tug and restrain us. This allows us to move on, effectively letting go of the past.
Sadly, it has to be acknowledged that many – perhaps most – people are rather stuck in a rut, unable to work out what to do next. However, good managers keep abreast of the changes and realise what’s going on within a larger context, and they are willing to make proactive decisions about what needs to be done, and then see it through to completion. We all have to manage our lives, and the skills needed are no less useful for individuals as they are for corporate executives. To optimise your career, organise a village fete, or to run a multinational, you will need to know about decisions, project management and meetings.
7 Aspects of Career
This might include:
No, defining our identity;
Hello, considering options which will hold our attention;
Thanks, its value in promoting happiness;
Goodbye, potentials for advancement;
Please, our self-image as a goal;
Sorry, a sense of community service;
Yes, retiring gracefully into the position of ‘elder’.
No: Accountant, Security, Inspector (Firm boundaries, discrimination).
Hello: Entertainer, Salesman, Tour Guide, Receptionist (expansive, open, friendly).
Thanks: Kindergarten Teacher, Personnel Officer, Artist (warm, appreciative).
Goodbye: Traveller, Buyer, Journalist (completions, resolution).
Please: Team Manager, Executive, Project Leader (clear intention, ability to co-opt).
Sorry: Doctor, Nurse, Priest, Arbiter (non-judgemental, unbiased).
Yes: Counsellor, Publican, Secretary (tolerant, accepting).
Getting stuck, being indecisive, holding on too long, failure to complete on promises and responsibilities, fear of change, tendency to give up, over-dependency on others.
These are fixed types who seem to prefer staying in an unhappy situation rather than giving something new a try. Whether it’s lack of courage, lethargy or terrible indecision, they stay put when most of us would be long gone. Life is all about how to manage the changes – so someone who does not manage, and does not change, inevitably begins to deaden.
A strong and yet dysfunctional expression of Goodbye can arise as a result of a childhood lived with too much Moving On, perhaps army children posted to far-flung places, moving home every year or so. Another form of inappropriate Goodbye is the case where a child loses a parent and is left with feelings of abandonment, rejection, desertion, powerlessness and an expectation of under-nourishment.
Who would be surprised if this gave rise to anger and resentment in the grown adult? We might expect to see a loner, unwilling and unable to trust that attachments of the heart will lead to anything that lasts. Rather than stay around for someone precious to desert them, at the first sign of danger they will dash off injured. There is reluctance to form long-term commitments, a failure to deliver the goods, a poor sense of responsibility for the emotional impact that their leaving will cause. This is the rolling stone gathering no moss, with no extra baggage and no fixed abode — never fully present here and now, yet perhaps with an optimism for a brighter time where the restlessness will abate and there will be a nourishing love that cannot escape.
The war-like attitude of humanity has clearly reached absurd levels now that we are taking on an opponent whom we can never defeat, and anyway who nurtures us continually without asking for payment. Our abuses against Mother Nature are no longer being ignored by her. In response there have been a ‘few shots across the bow’, like Hurricane Katrina, which seem to have produced no more than a ripple of concern.
Environmental issues, Global Warming, terrible pollution, and GM foods are just a few examples of problems that won’t just go away. Let’s be awake to the reality that we have allowed those in authority to slip into an unwinnable war that can only lead towards suffering and destruction. It is the eleventh hour.