While February means celebrating Valentine’s Day, and hopefully cashing in on increased spa gift certificate sales, some of you may instead be focused on making a drastic change in your personal or professional relationships. And I’m not just talking about romances. Let me explain…
Several years ago when I was contemplating selling my first spa, I decided to find a creative way to cut the ties that bound me to it. I felt this would enable me to feel good about my decision to sell, attract prospective buyers, and begin to heal from the inevitable grief that would come when our “break-up” was final.
And while I was really ready to sell “my baby”, move on with my life and do something new, let’s face it, deciding to end any kind of long-term relationship, even one with a company, can be awful. With the decision comes with a lot of work and conflicting emotions, as well as unexpected (and sometimes unpleasant) consequences. So I had to move through the process one step at a time.
Whether your “break-up” is with your business or business partner, an employee, boss or perhaps just some facet of what you currently do professionally, you can take steps to do so as positively as possible. One thing I suggest is writing a loving, healing “separation” agreement for the break-up, much like you might have in a real divorce. Though this isn’t a legal document, it is a healing tool that you can use to end your relationship on a higher level than you might have, allowing you to have closure on a number of levels. Here are a few ideas…
- Make a list of all the ways each “partner” or party grew or benefited from the business, partnership or relationship. “I learned to enjoy managing others, appreciate my past bosses and use Microsoft Word. My staff member learned to do payroll, create a spreadsheet and use Power Point.” Leave no skill unturned and try to think of as many positive things here as possible that would not have happened if you had not been in the relationship. When I did this with my spa as the other party, I focused on how it had grown under my leadership, gained a valuable reputation, or increased in sales during my ownership. I also included ways that the community, clients and staff had benefitted from the business since I opened it.
- Make a list of new opportunities big and small that will come to you (or both of you) as a result of the break-up. “When I am on my own, I will have the opportunity to sleep in on Saturday mornings, join a volleyball league, and do community service again.” If your break-up is with a staff member, you might write things like “When our professional relationship is over, I will be able to relax when the phone rings, unify the nail care team, or have more space in my office. Look for all the possible positives that will come from the change, again both for you and the other one who will be leaving the relationship.
- Express gratitude for the relationship – Being thankful at a time like this may seem difficult at best. But as I have learned through the ending of many romantic and professional relationships, as well as the sale of my business, there is always a gift of some kind in the time you spent in them. It may just be temporarily hidden by the pain you are feeling of the break-up or the circumstances leading up to it. Here are a few things you might say, “I thank ____________ for the wonderful successes we have shared, for the support _______ gave me in building my business/career, for providing me with a steady income and paycheck.” Though the relationship may be at its end, there are likely many things from it that will have a lasting impact and place in your heart and life.
- End with a positive affirmation or statement about how you would like to move on from the relationship. “We walk away from our business relationship not as enemies but as friends” or “We continue to work together as colleagues in the spa profession” or “We both let go of the anger, pain and resentment we feel to think only of the good times we shared while owning our business together.”
To be sure, ending any kind of close or long-term relationship – personal or professional – is tough no matter whose decision it is or what the circumstances are. But by creating your own customized break up “agreement,” it will be easier to see the time spent in the relationship as collection of gifts and lessons instead of a mistake…and as an open door rather than just a big void in your life. By taking steps like this, you’ll also become a happier, healthier and stronger person who is ready to take on what new opportunities and adventures come your way.
Felicia Brown, LMBT
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