Necessary Endings by Dr. Henry Cloud is probably one of the most thought-provoking books I have encountered in quite a while, particularly for those in the 2nd half of life.
I think the author states it best in the following passage:
“Whether we like it or not, endings are a part of life. They are woven into the fabric of life itself, both when it goes well, and also when it doesn’t. On the good side of life, for us to ever get to a new level, a new tomorrow, or the next step, something has to end. Life has seasons, stages, and phases. For there to be anything new, old things always have to end, and we have to let go of them. Infancy gives rise to toddlerhood and must be forever shunned in order to get to the independence that allows a child to thrive. Later, childhood itself must be given up for people to become the adults that they were designed to be.”
Most of us do not like to end things. I have discussed this before in my post, Failure Is Not an Option Is Total BS, where I write about how we have been brought up to see an ending as a failure.
Dr. Cloud relates necessary ending to pruning a rose bush. Dr. Cloud writes:
“Endings are also an important factor in our personal lives. There are relationships that should go away, practices and phases that must be relinquished, and life stages that should come to an end to open up space for the next one. A breakup, an ending of some friendships or activities, or a unplugging from some commitments often signals the beginning of a whole new life. It is a necessary step I refer to as pruning.”
Dr. Cloud tells us that a rose gardener will approach pruning a rose bush in 3 ways:
- Healthy buds or branches that are not the best ones
- Sick branches that are not going to get well
- Dead branches that are taking space needed for the healthy ones to thrive.
This is exactly the same thing we should do with our careers.
- We should be selective in our career or job choices
- If something is not going well in our career we need to prune
- We see a dead end like our industry or company failing we need to move on
How Do We Approach Necessary Endings?
We all approach necessary endings differently. In the first half of my career, I avoided necessary endings. I stayed with several jobs too long and made myself miserable. In the 2nd half of my career, I became quite adept at moving on before it was forced upon me.
How about you?
Dr. Cloud suggests you consider the following:
“What is your intellectual response to the idea of pruning? Do you affirm or question the three kinds of pruning described above (too many buds, sick buds that will never recover, dead buds taking up space?”)
“What is your emotional response to the idea of pruning? Does it turn your stomach? Does it feel mean or uncaring when people are involved? Does it make you anxious in some way? Is it energizing? All of the above?”
Most new opportunities occur when something else comes to an end.
Why do we avoid necessary endings?
We have a lot of reasons for avoiding necessary endings.
- We will let people around us down emotionally or spiritually
- Others depend on us financially
- Our social status will diminish
- Fear of change
Can you add to the list? I bet you can!
We hold onto our job or career because of inertia. I wrote about this in my post Inertia and Persistence as it Relates to Your Career. Inertia is very dangerous in managing our careers.
Make the endings a normal occurrence
“Make the endings a normal occurrence and a normal part of business and life, instead of seeing it as a problem.”
Dr. Cloud writes that we need to do the following:
- Accept Life Cycles and Seasons
- Accept That Life Produces Too Much Life
- Accept That Incurable Sickness and Evil Exist
I realize that I have made some endings a normal occurrence in my career. I wrote about a few of these necessary endings in the Career Failures chapter in my next book – “Repurpose Your Career – A Practical Guide to the 2nd Half of Life.” You can listen to this chapter in my podcast episode Career Failures, and How to Recover from Them [Podcast].
I am in the process of listening to this book a second time. I will listen to it a third and fourth time in the next month. It has gotten me to think about the necessary endings that need to occur to make the 2nd half of life successful.
I have decided I will never work for someone else. Next, I want to transform my business where I can work from anywhere. This means making some necessary endings and some new beginnings.
I highly recommend you order Necessary Endings by Dr. Henry Cloud (affiliate link) and you spend some time processing what you need to end.
When you are ready, please share the necessary endings that you are considering below.