When I left Brazil for the life I now have I didn’t leave well. In wanting to hold on to my fond memories, I decided not to say goodbye to anyone. After all, what would a “high dose of sentimentality accomplish anyway,” I reasoned. So I walked out of the only life I had ever known without much ado. It’s been decades since that time. I have never stop regretting it.
There’s an art to saying goodbye. Whether you’re walking away from a job, a relationship or moving away, there are a few things you should consider. I wish I had thought about them long ago:
Celebrate the good times. Even if leaving was not your idea, or you’re finally able to walk away from a bad situation, or you’ve had enough from your jerk of a boss, take inventory and celebrate what you can. Most relationship, (and yes, work is filled with relationships) have taught you life-lessons that you should be thankful for. Catalog them in your mind, share them with those you’re partying ways. They’ll never forget it; you’ll never regret it.
Be gracious. I didn’t want people to make a big deal of my leaving. I though I was doing them a favor. As it turned out, I deprived my friends of a kindness they wanted to bestow on me. I stopped them from blessing me and in turn being blessed themselves. As uncomfortable that it might be for you, allow those who care and love you to express their love and affection as you transition. Being gracious means accepting someone’s gift of kindness without reservation. Let them say goodbye.
Don’t burn bridges. Fight the urge to let them know how you really feel. There will be other opportunities in the future for that conversation. But as you part ways, try to walk away quietly, gently and with integrity. Leaving a relationship, a job or a group is already an emotionally-charged experience by nature. Don’t let those emotions rob you of a future reconciliation or restoration. I have yet to talk with someone who said “I wish I had give them a piece of my mind when I left.” Most people regret saying too much and not forgiving enough.
What have you learned when saying goodbye?