Where to Start if You Struggle to End Something

Jun 25, 2020

Years ago, our family moved to a new home. My two daugh­ters were five and seven at the time and loved the previous house. They had good friends in the old neighborhood, lots of great ex­periences, and loved their school; moving was the last thing they wanted to do. But it was a necessary ending that we needed to make, as we needed more space.

Consulting with the psychologist parent in me, I decided to begin the conversation with them when the idea first came up. “So, would you guys ever want to change houses? Maybe get one where you had your own playroom, or a flat yard where you could do a lot more fun stuff?” I asked, trying to sell a few of the benefits.

“No!” they said in unison. “Never! We love living here.” I was truly taken aback at the passion that they came at me with. I was glad that they loved their home, but this did not bode well for our moving plans. I knew that it was not going to be an easy sell or an easy ending.

But then I had an idea. The new house was undergoing a total remodel and would be unlivable for many months. In that time period, there was enough room to do something sneaky. The new house, I knew, had a playhouse in the backyard, just perfect for them at their ages. So without telling them that they were moving, I just took them over there to “see a friend’s house,” and expose them to all the bennies, secretly.

When we went, I wandered around looking at all the construc­tion and they immediately noticed the playhouse. They ran to it, went in it, and within minutes were taking snails into it, putting flowers in the window boxes, climbing on the roof, and doing a bunch of other things that showed real engagement. Then I told them we had to go, and they resisted, wanting to stay and play more. But I held firm, creating more desire for the forbidden fruit that I would one day want them to embrace.

Over the next few weeks, I continued to play this trick and even threw in a dip in the pool one time to seal the deal. Also, I took them upstairs to let them see the bedrooms and walk out on the balconies, and I employed other sneaky ways of getting them attached. I walked them to the park, which was right down the street, and talked about how close it was to that house. “Wow, wonder what it would be like to live that close to the park!” I said. “That must be really cool to just be able to walk to the park from your house! Those people are so lucky.”

You get the picture. Gradually, keeping them close to the mo­tivating vision, letting them experience it, taste it, feel it, and be in it, they were closer to embracing an ending than they knew. When they got the news, “We are moving,” it was a shock, and they im­mediately protested. “No! We don’t want to move.”

But when they started to think about the playhouse, the pool, the park, their rooms, and so forth, the ending they were being asked to go through was not as impossible as it once would have been. They had “touched it,” and it was tangible enough to get them through the change.

Having a vision will help you create an ending. I can’t have B if I hang on to A. Somehow our conscious and unconscious forces work toward creating what we have envisioned. It has been proved over and over.

So make it real. Write it down. Talk about it and create remind­ers in your personal life and your organization. When you do that, the one they are living in every day won’t be as welcome anymore.