Permission to be done (and Happy Halloween!)

Periods of transition are often (but not always) synonymous with letting go. It might be letting go of a job, a relationship, a home — but, in a deeper and broader sense, this letting go is often a letting go of who we used to be.

One of the issues that can arise here is one of permission. My Autumn Transition Coaching Sessions are underway (you can find out more about these here), and something that has come up more than once so far is “permission to be done.”

Recently, I ran into someone I worked with years ago. Running into her, recognizing each other and catching up a bit, reminded me of the many pleasant and kind people I worked with in that job, and as we parted ways I found myself thinking, just for a moment or two,  “Why did I ever quit that job? That was a good situation for me.”

And it was … until it wasn’t. I can remember Fridays back then, done with work for the week, when I’d walk home in the dwindling sunlight (I had an insanely short commute, one of the great perks of that job), feeling so satisfied with my life and grateful for what I had.

Except, in truth, there were only a handful of those happy Fridays, max. (Memory is funny like that. ) That period of satisfaction didn’t last all that long. Things changed, I changed — my essential self wanted a different experience — and it started to become time for me to be done.

And yet, being “done” with that job was a process for me, in and of itself.

Looking back, I can see that there were various “parts” to being done. There was the part where I wanted to be done — but really, truly wasn’t. And that part went on for a pretty long time. Because the “me” who wanted to be done with the job was in conflict with the “me” who wasn’t ready to be done, a struggle ensued, and until both “me’s” were on the same side, it wasn’t truly time for change.

And then, after what seemed like ages, I was ready. Except I had a hard time giving myself permission to be done. Because once I was no longer in inner conflict, I recognized the plain old fact that my job was just pretty pleasant, and I worked with nice people, and I had good benefits. (And there was that insanely short commute!)

When we’re making changes or decisions from a pretty peaceful place like that, we’re actually on much more solid ground than when we try to change from a place of dissatisfaction and unrest (this is usually a sign that we’re, actually, not quite done).

But it can also feel challenging, sometimes, to simply give ourselves that permission to be done.

We might have some fear or confusion around giving ourselves that permission — particularly if we think we might be letting others down in being done, or if we harbor the belief that “quitting is bad” or that being responsible means hanging in there for the long haul.

If we’re heavily identified with being “the person who sticks around”, it may be harder for us to give ourselves permission to be “the one who leaves” or “the one who lets go.” (Being done does not always look like leaving, but it usually feels like it to some extent! Even if the change we’re making is strictly an internal one, there is still an “inner leaving” process to go through, a letting go of the person we were.)

On the smaller scale, the day to day one, I notice that this time of fall, of Halloween, where the days are noticeably shorter, helps me give myself permission to be done with the day. When darkness creeps in more quickly, it’s like there’s a clearer line of distinction between day and night.

It also reminds me that, in many ways, I am not in control of beginnings and endings, of day and night, of the seasons of my life and of life in general.

While this can be unsettling, it’s also a relief. Recognizing where I do and don’t have control can be a big help in giving myself that permission to be done when I need it.

Where do you need permission to be done? What helps you give yourself this permission? I’d love to hear from you. And Happy Halloween! 

P. S. My Autumn Transition Coaching Sessions are underway and will be available through November 16, 2018. If you need some support in navigating a difficult transition this fall, I’d love to help. You can find out more about these sessions, here.

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2 thoughts on “Permission to be done (and Happy Halloween!)

  1. Yes! I’ve been through a learning process with this, and I’ve so rarely seen anyone talk about how leaving something involves grieving, even if you really want the thing you’re swapping it for. It still catches me unawares, but now I can recognise what it is I resist it less and move through it quicker. But no one ever explained to me that being done and moving on means you can’t take the person you were in that previous situation with you, especially if this is a growth process {rather than a sidestep, although I suspect all change is a growth process really}. So you will HAVE to let go, or the new thing won’t be able to come in, and that means grieving, and accepting that you will change as well as the situation.

    I’m about to take a sabbatical from my work, and it has been quite the process getting to this point! I resisted it for so long, and in the end had to get support in making the decision, because so much baggage came up that I wasn’t aware of. It’s not like, oh I know, I’ll take a couple of months off and that’ll be lovely. There are fears about what will change if you’re not steering the ship, if momentum and credibility and everything you’ve built will be lost, what it might mean, acknowledging that pausing might reveal things you don’t feel ready to see, etc. And I have no idea what it’ll be like not doing all the things I’ve done most days for the past five years! No social media, no marketing, nothing. It’ll be interesting, I think!

    Anyway, all this to say I loved this post, as always. {And I’ve switched my subscription to my personal email so I don’t miss any posts while I’m not checking my work email. 🙂 }

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    • Hi Tara! I love reading about your process — thanks so much for sharing it. You are so right that we don’t give enough attention to grieving the letting go of “the person we were” in the moving-on process. And so true that when we understand this and therefore resist it less, the process is that much less of a struggle! (Because we can’t “force” ourselves to let go — it just causes us to hang on more tightly most times.)

      I am wishing you the best for your work sabbatical, and I honor the courage it took to make that choice! (I definitely get what you mean about the decision triggering lots of “baggage.” Not to mention our culture does not support “taking breaks from doing.”) I’m glad the post resonated for you (and am pleased you’ll still receive my posts while on your hiatus!). 🙂

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