September 16 , 2020 /


Several years ago, a neighbor/potter made, among many things, a beautiful salt shaker with one hole in the bottom.  Besides being an exquisite design, the function fulfilled the saying “The way in is the way out.”  We gave a number of those salt shakers to friends and family and at some point had a contest where it was a prize for the winner.   A friend on her way out of a job recently, reminded me of this little salt shaker and that engaged my thought gears to pursue this a bit further.

When we look carefully at in and out, beginning and end, as part of the same process our perspective can change so that we can too.

There may be times when we see the end of something as the end of everything, especially if we were not looking for that ending. Sometimes it’s hard to see a new beginning. For example, when a relationship ends, we might not see that as a new beginning or as a new opportunity. We may experience that as a painful ending, and the sorrow, frustration or anger we feel may make it difficult for us to see that as a new beginning.

Endings are often challenging to accept, even if we were looking for that ending, because it’s hard to start again. Some endings are easier than other endings that can be so painful that our world seems upside down, and nothing makes sense.

“New Beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.” – Lao Tzu

How can we see an ending as a new beginning?

One answer is by staying in the present moment. The past is gone and the future has not arrived. The only place where we can truly live is in the present. If we don’t want to waste our energy in trying to change our past, let’s focus our energy in creating our present moment. Let’s focus on what we want to experience in our life rather in what we do not want. We cannot change what happened, but we can change how we experience what is going on right now. This is how we can see opportunities that we may have missed by focusing on what is gone.

When something ends, something new begins. We must remember that when one door closes, another opens.

If we believe that an ending signals a new beginning, we have the opportunity to start again. We must let go of what is gone and allow an opening in our life for what is waiting for us. Life is always changing, and that is part of what makes being alive rich and wonderful. Today we can make one of two decisions: We can decide to live tied to an end, living in our past with pain and regret, or we can decide to let go of what is gone and start a new life. We can choose to live in the present, and use it as a blank sheet to create a life that will give us greater confidence, hope and happiness moving forward.

When we see how the end of one thing can well be the beginning of something else we see many experiences that apply – in careers, relationships, projects, and life itself. While we can learn from the past the only way to go is forward.

My work with people in making and planning transitions touches on their jobs, their work, their relationships and their lives.  Those changes are most often planned although not always.  Transitions that are gradual, over time, are easier to manage than sudden disruptions where a plan may not be in place.  In either case, it’s an ending and a beginning all wrapped up together.  Sorting through the pieces and putting a process in place is one strategy that has proven effective.

When we remember how, why, and when we got into the situation in which we find ourselves currently and that we may be wanting to change, it helps enormously in putting those pieces together, that how we got in may well show us the way to get out.

This is not about backing up to go forward although we cannot rule that out when we’re feeling stuck. Losing traction has numerous solutions to get moving forward again.  It’s helpful to stop spinning our wheels and take some time to figure out possible strategies and not rush to a conclusion without some assurance of the outcome.

When we contemplate both ending and beginning, coupled together, our perspective changes and allows us to consider how every end has within itself this wonderful possibility of a new beginning. The way out is the way in and the way in is the way out.  While it might seem only one way, it is actually either way, just one way at a time.

A long time ago, we lived on a one-way street and my kids were out front playing and a driver was going the wrong way.  They yelled at him and said, “This is a one-way street!”  He yelled back, “I am only going one way!”  We need to be sure it’s the right way!




Comments (2)

  1. Today I was working with someone and her aha reminded me of an important point on change – sometimes the very thing that’s keeping us stuck is the question we’re asking. If I want to change my career, is the right question: What’s my next job? or is there a better question… like: What would it mean to live my purpose? Or values? What’s missing where I am? Do I need to change jobs to fill this hole? Intentional change makes us feel like we’re in control but in truth, there is still so much that is beyond our control. Unintentional change may take us longer to regroup and move forward but we can still do it. What’s the alternative? Remain stuck where we are forever?

    Here’s to the opportunity to start again!


    1. Bravo to the opportunity to start again, regroup the resources, perhaps look at reordering some priorities. We love living with the illusion that we’re in control when the reality is we may have choices about the little things = where to live, where to work, who to follow, etc. but the larger life matters are not in our realm. This Covid crap is a good example. We can respond and try and get a handle on it but it’s a lot bigger than most people are willing to acknowledge. I read a good response about accepting what we cannot change which was work to change what we cannot accept. Want to start with the climate crisis? Or poverty world-wide? I still believe that one person can make a difference, maybe not to the masses, but remember the starfish story? Here’s the link, as told by Loren Eiseley:

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