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home : opinion : columnist September 17, 2019

9/6/2019 7:09:00 AM
Sometimes, You Have To Walk Away

Marty Reep, Author
Speaker, Forward-Thinker

Sometimes, you just have to walk away for a while.  Whether it’s a project, conversation, or goal, sometimes the timing is off, and there’s nothing you can do about it.  When you hit that point, taking a break from it may be the best thing for everybody involved. 

By taking a break (or calling a truce), it gives everyone an out, or a way to save face and “press pause” with dignity.  You may really want to dig in and get the project done, but if the other people on your team are simply refusing to do their part, then it may be time to change focus and do something else for a while. 

It doesn’t mean that you’re never going back to it.  It just means that it would be wise to put your energy and excitement somewhere else, for the time being.

That happened to me while working on a book project with another author.  After weeks of discussions and laying out a timeline that we could both live with, I dove in and started hacking away at my share of the work.  When I sent what I had done to the other guy, he replied that his schedule had changed, along with his interest level. 

Frustrated, I started to make a sarcastic remark to him about dedication to the project, priorities, etc.  But, I didn’t.  Saying something out of frustration would not have helped either of us get closer to our goal of co-writing the book.  Instead, it probably would have made him mad and caused even more delays.  So, I took my own advice and did some introspection.  I thought out and verbalized to myself why I was upset. 

When I finally got to the transparent thought that was causing me an issue, I started laughing.  I even said to myself, “Wow, Marty!  You really thought that?  That’s not true at all.  Man, you added a bunch of fiction to that scenario.  It’s just one project in a sea of millions!”  After that, I was good.     

I had been putting too much stock in the possibility of the other person’s actions.  Instead, I needed to focus on what I could control: my own actions and my own attitude.

My self-talk had jumped the gun and was automatically programming me for a situation that hadn’t really occurred.  Does that ever happen to you? 

Solution?  I decided to walk away mentally and figuratively from that project for a while.  After gathering my thoughts, I emailed my co-author and encouraged him in his newly-busy schedule.  I told him that I was impressed with his other new venture and that we could continue to work on the previously discussed material in the future, as both our schedules allowed. 

“No bridges were burned in the making of this temporary walking away.  And, dignity was left intact with all parties.”  …Sounds like a disclaimer at the end of a movie.

Did that complete the overall goal of co-writing the book?  No, of course not.  But, it did make it so that when we came back together, we would finish it the next time around.

Some people may think that part of this sounds childish or petty.  But, it’s more about balancing your emotions when frustrating situations arise.  You’re human, so you’re gonna react one way or the other!  It comes down to managing your emotions in such a way that you continue to build friendships and not make enemies. 

In real estate transactions and large business negotiations, many places have rules for a mandatory cooling off period.  Both the buyer and the seller typically have a couple of days to think things over and change their minds if they realize that they’ve made a really, really bad decision regarding the property or the business they’re buying or selling.  That cooling off period is similar to walking away from a project, conversation, or goal. 

What are you in the middle of that you may need to walk away from, for a little while?  Should you cool off somewhere else?  Or, do you need to stick it out, and see it through?  Weigh the pros and cons, and either way, keep moving forward.  The best answer for your situation will come to you. 

Have a great week!

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