Before moving on, take a breath and acknowledge.

I talked with a couple friends about a couple things that may be ending after a few decades. It feels like failure, a little. It feels like people aren’t as committed as they used to be, or as devoted. It feels like the people who could have made a difference, who could have been supportive, haven’t been.

It’s hard.

“But what if,” I wondered out loud, “What if it has done what it was supposed to do. What if everything it was built for, everything it needed for staffing and support, has been completed.”

What if you can say that it is complete. And you can celebrate what happened rather than spending energy fretting about how hard it is to keep it going.


Years ago, I was meeting with a guy who had been having a hard time. We talked pretty regularly. One week, I started to say something and realized I’d said it before, months before. And he was already doing it. I realized that I’d done everything I could do to help him think things through.

I stood up.

I shook his hand.

I told him that I was graduating him.

I gave him a hug.

We talked more, but the situation had changed. The process was complete.

We could have talked about it as a failure, that I didn’t have more to teach. But that wouldn’t have been accurate. We needed to observe the graduation. And celebrate.

Recently, Jon Acuff was talking about “8 signs that you are a perfectionist” and said that the fourth sign is that “perfectionism ruins your ability to celebrate.” My friend Becky McCray reminds me regularly that there are seasons and there are cycles.

As students graduate from college and high school, from one extracurricular to another, from this job, from this project, from this career, maybe taking a moment to acknowledge what worked, what we did do, just for a weekend, might be helpful. And as organizations consider whether to continue, as conversations consider whether to make the 45th annual into the last annual, as groups grapple with changes, considering whether things are complete may be in order.

One thought on “Before moving on, take a breath and acknowledge.

  1. gracemoment

    Excellent, Jon! Thanks for writing this! I believe you are spot on! And agree with you, and it takes wisdom, discipline, discernment, self-awareness and honesty to come to the point of realizing – “it is finished.” And simply close the door with gratitude and move on. I think as I reflect on your blog, perhaps the things that has given me the most stress, worry or pain in my life are those things that I held on to for too long, or was afraid of simply letting go and calling it a day, and moving forward. thanks again. Your insight on perfectionism is also helpful. And I believe you’re exactly right… had never thought of it in that way before.


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