Breaking up is hard. But it doesn't have to be traumatic or messy. Whether you want a new job, a new best friend, or a new spouse, today we talk about how to decide if it's time and what to do to exit gracefully. You have to do what's right for you; put yourself in the best situation possible, and learn to walk away with fewer hard feelings and your head held high.
In the race to success, we're not all starting from the same place. Level the pursuit seeks to fill in the gaps and provide accessible bite sized leadership lessons for anyone looking to improve their skills and prepare for the next step, whatever that might be. Welcome back, my friends, I hope that you are having an absolutely fantastic Inauguration Day. Regardless of your political affiliation, the fact that we now have a woman in the White House is pretty freakin awesome. The fact that we also have a doctor up there, I'm not gonna lie pretty exciting for me. So it's a pretty great day. And hopefully, we can all use this opportunity to move forward as a country in a better way. Regardless of what you believe, regardless of your politics, I hope that you're happy to start a new chapter and get started with the work that we need to do to make our country the absolutely wonderful place that we know it can be. So last week, I talked about imposter syndrome. Hopefully, you got something out of that. And I know a lot of people have reached out to me to let him know that some of the things I said resonated with them, which is awesome. So hopefully working through that, because you know you're awesome, I know you're awesome. So let's keep moving forward. But today, we're going to talk about ending a relationship. Now seems kind of weird to talk about really positive things and talk about ending a relationship. But at the same time, depending on your affiliation, you may be happy about ending the relationship that the country did today, I don't know, I'm not going to get into that, please don't flame me. Actually, you can, if you want to, it's fine. But ending relationship is really, really hard for a lot of people. And a lot of the people that think that it's not very hard, they think it's not hard because they don't actually do it, it's people that ghost or just peace out and don't actually engage to end the relationship. And they usually do that because they think it's hard to. So most people do actually think it's a challenge. And even if you are really good at dealing with people, it can still be a challenge because you care about the person and you want everyone to get through it okay, and so there's a lot to try and to approach that situation in a positive way. So we're going to talk about that today. And look at some ways to recognize if you need to enter a relationship, and then ways to make it a little bit more successful for both you and the person or the organization that you're breaking up with. So over the next week, I'd like you to look at your relationships and make sure they're all where you need them to be. If any of them need to end, then it's something to think about. If they don't then make them the best that you can. It's almost a universal human truth, that breaking up with someone ending a relationship, be it professional or personal can be really, really hard to do. And there's a lot of reasons for that. And so we're talking about leaving your work situation, finding a new job, or ending a relationship with your significant other, they share a lot of things. And so I'm going to talk about both of them. There are some differences, so we'll highlight that. But in general, the concepts are pretty much the same. So why is this so hard for most of us? Well, most of us fear change. Most of us like the status quo, it's easier to deal with something that you understand, even if you don't like it, then to go out there and deal with something that you don't know about. So most of us would rather suffer through it, then find something new. And then along with that is being alone in a relationship or being without options. So you may hate your job. But you're not sure what else is out there. And in a relationship, it can be the same thing. So it can be scary to think that you might not be able to get a better situation. So maybe you just stay where you are. And then on the other side, and this is one that I really, really struggle with is loyalty and love and commitment. Caring about that person or loyalty to your organization can make it very difficult to change your own situation to put your own needs first, if you care about this person, if you have shared history with them, especially in a marriage, you know, if you have children and your families have been intertwined, and you have all the same friends, that's a lot. And so it's not just the separation of that and the frustration, but also caring about the impact to that person. And in a job, you may find that there's no more room for advancement, you've gotten everything you can out of this company, you've learned everything you can about this position, but you feel really loyal to them, you feel selfish and looking for more. And that can be really hard because you feel like you're leaving your co workers, you're a boss that mentored you, you're leaving them in the lurch. I mean, that can be a lot of responsibility. And then that rolls over into the feeling of how it's going to reflect on us. Some of us are very cognizant of our image and how people think about us, and you have no control over their perceptions or what information they're getting. But if you're the one leaving the situation, it can be very hard not to feel like you're the one that is betraying people, you're the one that is running out on them. It's just a really hard place to be. And then another aspect of this is the sunk cost fallacy. And what that is, is basically saying that you've invested so much in something that you need to stay with it rather than cutting your losses. You can't do that right. There's certain situations Do you find yourself doing that you've already invested this much money in this car, so I might as well get it fixed. I've invested this much money in this house, so I'm going to get the bathroom renovated, which is stupid. Don't do that I did it in Charleston and it's a mistake. But you have to remember that whatever you've invested in this car, this house, it's gone, you're not getting it back. So you really need to look at where you are today. And moving forward, because everything from before, yes, you have invested it. And hopefully you've learned from that. But you can't get it back. Whether you stay or leave, you're not getting that back. So you need to decide what's what it's actually worth to you. And then along with what I said before about the loyalty and the imaging is the disruption to your life, to your organization, to your significant other to your family. If you live with someone, that's a big deal, if it's your best friend, and you guys have grown apart, and now you don't feel like it's a healthy relationship for you. But you share everything your kids play together, you have carpool, I mean, there's a lot of things where it can be very, very disruptive to make such a big change in an organization, you might be a team lead, there are people that you're mentoring, there are people that have mentored you, there are people that count on you, you have relationships that you all you have to start all of that over again, all those things make it really, really hard to leave a relationship, even something that is a totally toxic situation for you. It can seem more attractive to stay, because of those reasons. So you have to really think about that and make sure that it's the right thing for you. So how do you know that? How do you decide because certainly, many of us have had relationships that were rough that we push through, and they got better, right? So that's not to say you're supposed to cut your losses on every single rough situation, or every time your job is a little bit less fun than you want it to be that you just peace out? No, that's not what we're saying at all, because there is a certain amount of ebb and flow in our relationships, professional and personal. But how do you know if it's really not a good situation? The first thing is, if it's hurting you more than it's helping you. I mean, and that's straight up. If it's a personal relationship, if you are getting nothing back, if you are hurting all the time. If you feel unsupported and unloved, and nothing about it is bringing you joy, then that's something you need to consider. In a work situation. If you feel constantly that you're being more and more being put on you you're not getting support, you're not getting mentorship, you don't understand how your developed, your professional development is supposed to work. You in general, feel as though everything about your situation is bringing you down and taking energy away from you and nothing about it is bringing something back, then you need to consider whether you need to leave a situation. The next is if it's holding you back from reaching your full potential. And again, this is both professional and personal. In a personal relationship. If you have a significant other or a friend who's constantly telling you you can't do it, you're not smart enough, you're not good enough. Or maybe it's more subtle. Do you really want to do that? And why do you read so much? Man, you don't need all that school, you're smart enough. We already think you're smarter than us. We know, you know those little backhanded compliments, oh, look how smart you are. That is insecurity in people. But that can really bring you down. And professionally. If there's no room for advancement, and nobody looking out for you. And no opportunities for professional development. Those are things that you need to think about. Now, there might be other reasons to stay in a job and find those things somewhere else. But in a relationship. In general, if you're looking somewhere else for the good stuff, that's probably not a good relationship for you. So that's something to consider. Another thing is if you're unable to ask questions, or share your needs, and again, this is both personal and professional, if every discussion turns into a stressful interaction, if every time you try to talk to them, it just turns into a fight. If every every question you ask becomes a pie gets a passive aggressive response, that's not a good thing. You should be able to share your needs, you should be able to ask sincere questions and get sincere answers back that should not it's not okay to have everything you say and greeted with aggression or silence or sarcasm or passive aggression. It's not all right. There's a place for that stuff. There's a place for humor. There's a place for giving each other a hard time. Absolutely. I love to I'm a practical joker. I like to mess around I like to be I have very sarcastic sense of humor. But there's a time and a place for that. So this is something I actually had to learn growing up. I was witty and smart. And I had an opinion about everything. And I like to use sarcasm and I found that I could be a really negative influence on people because everything I said was a little sarcastic quip. And so there were people that were around me that never got to hear anything positive and that actually really brought people down. It's not okay. And you may see this in your relationships and honestly, it might even be you. Sarcasm is awesome, absolutely use it. But make sure that negative is not the only thing that people hear from And if there's someone in your life that's like that, you need to look at that and see if there's some positive there too. Another thing to look at when you think about your relationships is, are your best thoughts about it, "used to"s, or "maybe somedays"? do you have any positive thoughts about the present about what's happening now? If everything about it is remembering good things that happened months or years ago, or maybe someday we'll get to this place. That's not necessarily bad. It's great to have good memories. It's wonderful to have hopeful goals. However, if you spend all your time, wishful thinking, and reminiscing and there's nothing actually good happening right now, you need to think about that. Now, that may not mean that you need to end that relationship. But it probably means you need to spend some time working on it, because that's not going to be productive, to have all of your good thoughts be in the past or in the future, because the Now is the only thing that we really have. And then the final one, which really resonates with me, because it was kind of put me over the top in some of the relationships that were most difficult for me to end is if you don't like who you are in a situation. And this can be the way you behave the way you think the way you treat yourself, it could be becoming irrationally angry or irritated about everything, it could be becoming totally emotional about stuff and flying off the handle, or shutting down completely, where even if you would be someone who would share their emotions and share their thoughts, you've learned that you can't. And so you shut down completely and don't talk at all. And then one of the things and I've seen this and other people and I've seen it myself, is doing things that are unhealthy to spite yourself for not leaving, I guess, or maybe to spite the other person, or doing things that are self destructive, either acting out, putting yourself in dangerous situations, putting yourself in stupid situations, or just being a not good person, because of the way the person makes you feel. Now, we are adults. And so I say that way the person makes you feel someone intentionally because obviously we can choose how we react to our emotions. But people's behavior does trigger things in you. There are certain aspects to how we react that are biological, they are inherent. So we can absolutely choose how we process those information, that information and how we choose to act. And to move forward with it. There's no question. But that initial reaction, we don't have a whole lot of control over. And so if you have someone in your life that triggers those things in you, then you really need to give some thought to that because it is not healthy, it will impact how you look at yourself long term, it will impact your relationship long term. So you really have to take the time to care about yourself. It's wonderful to care about other people, but care about yourself first, and make sure you're taking care. So you've listened to that stuff. You've looked at a relationship and you think, Okay, this is maybe not a good relationship for me, I'm going to end it. So how do you do that? Well, the first thing is you need to do it, as soon as you realize that you're not willing to give anything more to this relationship. Now I say that because a lot of people give a lot of thought maybe even years to deciding whether or not to end a relationship personal or professional. But once you decided you need to do it. Now, in a professional relationship, obviously, you're going to give notice, and there's a protocol for that. But in a personal relationship, you are not going to necessarily do that. Once you know for sure that you're not going to give any more energy to making this relationship better, you need to end it. And once you do that you want it to be you want to do it cleanly. Don't try to downshift your relationship or decrease your interaction. So if this is a personal relationship, if this is a spouse or a significant other, don't try to just go to being friends, it doesn't work for hardly anybody. Because if you were in that relationship, at least one of you had romantic feelings. So just switching is not effective. And honestly, it's kind of cruel to the person that had those romantic feelings. In a professional relationship, it can be very tempting to try to stay around and be the bridge or liaison to the next team. But don't do that unless you absolutely have to some companies you may have to. But in general, if you're leaving, do not try to leave any footprint as much as possible. You need to extricate yourself from that situation. So you can't be friends, at least not at first long term. I'm friends with most of the people I've ever dated. And they're fantastic individuals, and I'm so grateful to have known them. But most people if there's a romantic attachment, you can't do that immediately after the relationship. If it's a close friendship, and it ends based on a decision and not just drifting apart, same thing goes. Now sometimes people truly do just mutually drift apart and both people are okay with it. And that's fine. But you have to really be aware of that because a lot of times it may look like that. But after a while you see that it's not so if you're going to try that you need to be aware that that might not truly be the case. Now there are people that both personally And professionally do like a little bit of drama. And so they will intentionally leave reasons to be contacted, they'll leave stuff at your house, they'll leave projects that are not finished or filing systems, you can't figure out so that you have to reach out to them. Don't do that, if you really want to leave them leave the situation. And if you have someone in your life that does this, try not to engage with them. Because that's not healthy behavior. It's not good for anyone involved, and it's not effective. So if you leave, make a clean break of it. And as you discuss this with this person, or with this organization, be honest, within reason, this is not the time to unload everything that ever takes you off in the relationship, it's not the time to tell them all the ways that they screwed up. It's not the time for True Confessions, if there was cheating or dishonesty in the relationship, this is probably not the time to unload as you're on the way out. That's cruel. That is mean. So if you're gonna do that, do it because it's in service of this person. And they need to know it for some reason, which only you can decide. But don't do it, just so that you can feel better about yourself, or having been honest about everything, that's not cool. In a professional situation, you also want to be honest. But if there are personal issues, if you deal with discrimination or bias, hopefully you brought that to their attention before you're ready to leave, because you don't deserve to deal with that day in and day out. But also, if you're going to do it on the way out, you need to do it appropriately, professionally and with class. And it can be frustrating to say, Well, I had to deal with this, why should I have to show class now. But it will only be positive for you in the long run, if you can have that discussion in a rational way and share that information for them. So they can make the place better because right that's what you're supposed to be doing when you give that information is trying to help them make the place better, not just venting, or nuking someone on the way out. So now you've said your piece, and you give them a chance to talk. Just listen. Don't defend yourself. And actually this is true for professionally as well. Listen to what they have to say, file it away, respect them, you you have the power in this right you you chose to break up, you chose to leave the situation, you still have the power. So let them have their moment and let them say everything they need to whether it's a professional person telling you all the things you did wrong, whether it's a spouse telling you all the ways that you were a terrible spouse, whatever it is, take it file it away, some of it is probably has grains of truth in it. So it may be worthwhile to to think about it. And to give it a little bit of thought, as far as ways that you can be better going forward. But don't defend yourself, because it just prolongs the situation. And honestly, when you start defending yourself, it gives them hope, it makes them think that there's room for negotiation. So just take it and then take responsibility for the decision you've made. You've made this decision, don't try to tell them all the reasons it's their fault, you made this decision, don't try to find off the responsibility, make the decision, stick with it and take responsibility for it. Anything else is not productive. And it generates discussion that just causes turmoil. If you need to leave, that's right for you, you don't have to defend that. It's your decision. It's your life, they're your feelings, they're not wrong. So if you need to do it, do it, but commit to it. And then finally, and this is more of a logistical point, control the location, if you can, obviously, if you're submitting your two weeks notice at work or if you're having an exit interview with your boss or something like that, generally, it's probably not going to be a super emotional event. And so it shouldn't be a huge deal. But if you're if you're firing somebody, or if you are breaking up with somebody, control the location, don't do it in public. But do it in a place where you can exit grief gracefully. Don't ever bring someone to your house or to your office to end a relationship with them. Because then you're stuck there and you have to try to get them to leave, so do it someplace where you can leave, and they can stay if they want to. But after you've concluded what you need to say, you can get out. So those are lots of ways that you can do this. So what happens if you mess it up? How can you mess it up? Well, number one is not actually letting go. You have to let go. I mentioned it before as far as breaking up cleanly, but you actually have to leave. You have to stop communication. You can't stalk them on social media, you can't continue to get updates, you can't call them when you see a meme that makes you think of them. That's not cool. You have to you have to step away. And this can actually be really hard in a job situation because this is your your work family, right. These are the people that you spend more of your waking time with than anyone else. And so you're going to want to be part of shift Sheila's birthday party, you're gonna want to show up to the Christmas party, you're going to want to know about those things. If they were a group of co workers that you're close with. It's not your place. anymore, you need to find a new place and find a new situation. Now, obviously, if there might be people that whose you want to continue having a relationship with friends, but you're not part of that work center anymore, and so you have to step away, I will tell you guys, that can be really, really hard, especially if you're close. You know, in the military, we move around a lot. And also we have deployments. And it is so hard for life to go on without you, when you deploy it, or upcs. And everyone, you see all the pictures that people are doing, having a party or having potluck or something, and they're having a great time, and they don't even notice that. That's really hard. So relationship like that. Your ex is gonna date someone else, they're gonna marry someone else, they're gonna have parties and go out. They're allowed to do that. But so are you. So you have to find your own new situation. Now, a caveat to that that is changing your mind for real. So my husband and I joke about tests; I don't believe in playing mind games, I'm not good at that stuff. I think it's stupid. And so I don't ever ask him a question that has an answer. Like, I just tell him what I think if I ask him a question, it's supposed to be a real question. I'm not expecting him to say something. But once in a while, I will ask a question, and he will get it wrong. I will say, I did not know that was a test, but you failed. It was a test. So like, if I say, Hey, I have this event. I was wondering if you're gonna go and he says, Well, do you want me to go? And I say, well, it's up to you. And he says, No. And I realized, I really do want him to go, and he has now failed the test. So now we're gonna have a different discussion, where I come from a place of an opinion and honesty, and we actually work through it together. Because sometimes when you make a decision, once you've committed to it, you actually realize how you truly feel about the situation. And so I actually advocate for people when you have a hard decision to make, to emotionally commit to it. And sometimes you actually have to go through with it, but emotionally commit to it because when once you've committed, you'll get a feeling. And it will either be resolution or resolve, you may still have conflicting emotions, but you will feel better that the decision is made. Or you may immediately have this remorseful, regret feeling and you know, okay, this is not what I truly want. And this can happen in a breakup or when you leave a job. When you step away, you realize, oh, my goodness, I really like that situation, it was a good fit for me, it was actually better than I thought. And I see all the places that I could do better to make the situation, more of what I need and more positive for me. If that's the case, then absolutely do it. If you figure out that it's the right situation for you, then make the changes that you need to to make it better for you. Because remember, you still you had enough problems that you thought about breaking up, you thought about leaving, so you still need to address those problems. But it's okay to change your mind. Waffling back and forth is not particularly healthy. But if you get step away, and you realize it gives you perspective, it is totally reasonable to change your mind. Another pitfall is not processing your emotions fully. And there's a lot to this, because you're changing jobs. Like I said before, it might be your social circle, that's your work family, that's people you care about. So that can be really hard. And you have to process those emotions. In a personal relationship. Man, obviously, the magnitude can be so much higher, this is your entire life. So you have to get through that. Now that might mean not getting out into a relationship too quickly, not getting on, you know what the dating app of your choice or whatever and kind of running through a bunch of new dates. Or it might mean that you need to do that for a little while and meet some people and just talk about other people because you're not quite ready to deal with it. There's no right or wrong answer. That will tell you if you've had a long term serious relationship, and then you try to go directly into another long term, serious relationship, that can be very, very challenging. But I can't say that's wrong, because everybody's life is a little bit different. And honestly, a lot of times in long relationships, you started peacing out long before you finally made that decision. So it may not be as big of a change for some people as it is for others. But you definitely need to make sure that whatever your emotional state needs, that you do it that you give it as much time as it needs to because you have to deal with whatever you're feeling. It might be loss, it might be anger, it might be feelings of betrayal, it might be shame. It might be just plain old pain. It might be loneliness, you have to deal with and those could be professional or personal. You might feel those things. And if you feel none of them, maybe you're just freakin happy. Like, heck yeah, I'm free, then that's awesome. But even if you feel that way, some of those others usually pop up so you have to be ready for them. Now another problem is comparing new situations to old ones, your people your job. whatever situation you're in, it's not going to be the same. And it may not be, it may be amazingly better, but it's still gonna have issues, right. There's no perfect situation, there's no perfect spouse except for my husband. There's no, you're there's no panacea, you have to find a situation that is better than is good for you, it helps you to grow, that helps you to feel good about yourself, that helps you reach your potential, it helps you know all of your amazing power, but it's not gonna be perfect. So don't compare it. Because that's not going to be productive for you. Focus on the merits of this new job, this new person this new whatever it is, especially if you place the old one fully behind you. Now, as I said, before, it's possible stepping away can give you perspective, maybe you go out, you date a few people, and you realize, wow, the person I was with was pretty freaking awesome. Maybe I need to consider this. That's a different situation. But that needs to be a deliberate decision, it's not something you fall back into, because you get bored, okay, you don't go back just because you're like, I'm tired, I'm too lazy to date, I'm going to go back to you. That's not helpful for either one of you. So make sure that you're, you're looking at your new situation with very fresh, clean eyes. And if you can't, and that means you need more time. So take it. Another issue that people have is getting too many opinions on what they should do. Now, it's good to have a sounding board, it's good to have people in your life that you can talk to you. But if you talk to too many people, you can get conflicting opinions, it can become very unproductive. And honestly, it just turns gossipy. And it can really poison the relationships with your friends and your co workers. So it doesn't end up being positive for you. And again, it doesn't put you in a positive light with others. If everything you're saying is always venting about your spouse or your work situation, it can look very selfish, and you're not going to get good feedback in return. So be very judicious in the people that you talk to, it's great to have someone in your corner that can give you good advice. But don't talk to everyone in your life about it, because it's not going to end up being positive for you or helpful for you making the decision. And then the next thing is, and social media has made taking this to another level, but don't burn your bridges. You know, there have always been people that went bad mouth their ex or talk trash about their boss or whatever. But social media has taken it just to another level and people will go on and flame their acts or leave bad Yelp reviews for their boss or whatever. Don't do that. There is no way to do that with class. There's no way to do that and look good. Pretty much everyone who does that looks spiteful and vindictive and petty, there's no way. I know it's tempting. And especially if you have a lot of followers or big circle friends, it can be very tempting to do that. Don't do it, it can only go badly for you, it is not helpful. And this is a huge deal professionally. Most industries are smaller than you think. And so if you gossip, or talk trash about your team, or the organization or anything like that, it usually gets around relatively quickly. And you look like you are petty, like you are bitter, like you're not a good teammate. And ultimately, the reflection that people have is that if they were to hire you, and then you didn't work out, you're going to do the same thing to them. So there's no way to do that in a positive way. Just don't do it. It is totally appropriate to be honest with your opinion. But be classy with it. Be honest with it. Don't let frustration and anger and hurt make you say things that are going to ultimately hurt you. They might hurt them in the short term. I mean, let's be honest, you absolutely can flame someone and make them look bad in the short term and have short term impacts. But how many times have we seen that cut back on the person that originally started on the mess? It's just not good. There's no self preservation in it at all. Now some people when they're in a breakout, they feel Kamikaze. I got you. Don't do it. You're worth more than that. Your future is worth more than that. Just don't burn those bridges. And then sometimes we do need perspective. We look at all this stuff. And it's so overwhelming and it's so much to take in and it hurts so much and there's no right answer. There's no Oracle, there's a great big magic eight ball that that tells you something that makes you feel comforted by coming to this decision. But you need to recognize that you wouldn't be here if something wasn't wrong. You wouldn't be having this debate with yourself if something wasn't wrong. It takes a lot for most of us in a committed relationship in a stable job to say you know what, peace out I'm done. There's a lot to that. So even if you decide that you want to go back to it Or as you're contemplating making the decision, you decide to try to salvage the situation, you need to remember that you have to fix whatever got you to this decision point in the first place. Because it's not going to get better on its own. There are very few things with respect to relationships, with respect to jobs, professional development, growth, that just get better on their own. You have to be paying attention. So if you feel this way, you don't have to act. But you need to think about why. So this week, I'd like you to try to look at your relationships, your professional relationships, your personal relationships, your friends, your spouse, all of those things. Are they good or bad? If they're good, wonderful, cultivate those great relationships. Give them the time and attention that they need. Love them up in a way that they need to be grateful for your teammates and your boss at work that are supportive and helpful. That's awesome. If they're not, you need to think about why is there something that you can do to make them better if there is the man go after it? But if there's not, you need to think about what is best for you long term. Where do you want to be? What do you want to do? what's important for you to reach the full potential that I know you have? So that's been our discussion of ending a relationship on Level the Pursuit. Thanks for joining, and I look forward to your comments. If you like the discussion, please give it a like or subscribe or share with a friend. If you didn't, please comment on what I could do better. Next time we're going to talk to author, survivor, motivational speaker and all around fantastic human Terry Tucker. He's going to tell us a bit about his journey and share his perspective on getting the most out of life. If you're interested in a sneak peek, head over to his website at www.motivationalcheck.com and you can read a little bit about the amazing things that he's done. Don't forget to look at your relationships and figure out what you can do to make your life better. And then head over to www.levelthepursuit.com to share your insights and your successes. I can't wait to learn from your thoughts. Thanks again for joining level the pursuit. Well, we can't choose where we start. We can choose our dreams and how we pursue them. Remember, success is a team sport and there's room for all of us to achieve our goals. So be a good leader. Be a good follower. and Do Something Great.