• David Unger, PhD

Beginnings and Endings



Everything has a beginning and an ending. Many things have quite a distance between the start and the finish while others not so much. I was taught that with every beginning there is an ending and with every ending something new begins. If you look at life through a beginning/ending lens you could say we begin and end things all day long.


We wake up at the beginning of our day and the ending of our night. We make our way through our grogginess and start to engage the day as we say goodbye to the quiet of our slumber. We walk by someone and at the same time we greet them and ask “How are you?” as we are making our way past them.


There are all manner of beginnings. There is the start of the day, a new task at work, a new person in our lives a new challenge to face. Some beginnings we can’t wait to begin and others we would like to forestall. Some of us peak at the start and others finish strong.


We may have an idea we want to share with a coworker or an unknown person across the room we want to approach. We may be hesitant to initiate or treasure jumping into the breach. We can embrace new situations and other times we hold back. Sometimes both.


When we elect to share our idea or approach the person across the way we are saying yes to taking that chance and no to restraining ourselves. With this yes comes that no. We say yes to getting out of bed in the morning and no to lingering a bit longer.


If you are having a hard time saying yes to something it might help you out to think about what you are reluctant to say no to. If you are having a hard time saying no to something you can think about what is so hard about letting go of the thing to which you are saying yes.


We all get stuck making decisions. People often suggest you list the pros on one side and the cons on the other. I think that helps in terms of being able to see the issues at hand, but no matter how many pros or cons you have it is not a 1-to-1 kind of thing. You can have 10 pros and 1 con and that 1 can be enough to sway you.


It can help when you are trying to decide to take an action to focus on what you are giving up if you take that action. Sharing an idea might open you up to criticism or ridicule. Approaching that person across the room can lead to disappointment and rejection. If you not willing to pay the possible costs, it is hard to motivate yourself to take the risks. Sort of like the cliché – Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.


I have written previously about the 80/20 Decision Rubric. Basically it boils down to you ask yourself periodically during the day if you had to make the decision right now what would you do. You ask yourself multiple times a day for multiple days and if 80% of the time you come out on one side that usually is good enough to make the move. Sometimes you can never get to 100% because there are compelling concerns on both sides and you can’t know the future. That 80% level may be as good as it gets and if you hold for 90% and above you may find yourself living a pretty constrained life.


Making choices can be easy or challenging and the beginnings and endings carry varying levels of stress and importance.


We don’t always get to make the choices of what we begin and end. Your boss fires you and that is the end of your job and the beginning of your unemployment. You smell alcohol for the first time on your child’s breath and the age of innocence is over and the time of advancing worry is upon you.


I can remember being 12 years old and looking forward to the beginning of my teen years. I wanted my “childhood” to end and my teens to begin. Later I wanted my teens to end and my twenties to begin. Now I am not so excited to see those endings and beginnings. Yet I think the better job we all do of honoring what we leave behind and what we now move into the richer our lives. We may be reluctant to end something yet life often gives us no choice. Being grateful for what we have experienced and being open and receptive to the unknowns ahead makes our passages easier if not easy.

#Beginnings #Endings #8020DecisionRubric

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