How we end things

(Laura’s note: This essay ran as my weekend “Week’s Worth” newsletter. If you’re not a subscriber, you can sign up here.)

I published the first episode of The New Corner Office podcast on April 1st. I’ll publish the last episode on December 31st. The process of winding down this podcast after 200 episodes has me thinking a lot about how we choose to end things.

The Olympics aside, while we begin with much fanfare, we seldom end with similar festivities. Product launches inspire lots of ideas. Product wrap-ups, not so much.

I know there are reasons for this. Sometimes endings don’t come about in great circumstances. Sometimes it’s more of a mixed bag. In the case of the New Corner Office, we had just started turning a profit and listenership was decent, albeit smaller than Before Breakfast (my other every-weekday-morning podcast). It’s more that I didn’t think I could keep coming up with this many podcast topics, and write my next book, and supervise a massive home renovation, and care for five children. So, something had to stop, and this was the logical choice.

But whether we like to think about how things end or not, we should, because all things do end. Businesses cease operations. Buildings come down. My brother got married a week ago, and in their vows they pledged to be together for “all our days” — a little memento mori that none of our days are infinite. Even most nations are relatively recent in the grand scheme of human history. It may seem like you have attended or dialed in to that Tuesday morning status meeting for as long as you can remember, but someday, there will cease to be a Tuesday morning status meeting, and possibly before that a day when you are no longer attending it.

So as we take on anything new, I think it’s worth thinking about how it will end. Do you see a regular get-together drifting away as people stop organizing it? Or will you deliberately aim for a dozen events and then make a choice together about whether to continue? While the former is more common, the latter is probably a better idea — because being more mindful about everything, including endings, makes us feel more like the architects of our time.

4 thoughts on “How we end things

  1. Thank you for this post Laura, it’s a very thought provoking concept for me, especially as the year draws to close. I enjoyed starting many work days with your podcast episodes this crazy year, they gave me a bite sized boost at the start of the work day that was much needed at times. I also shared New Corner Office with colleagues when our department temporarily moved online from in-person. Now I am looking forward to playing Before Breakfast in place of NCO next year! I hope you enjoy the extra space that winding down NCO will give you, and I will ponder this post as I likely start a new career chapter in the next few months.

  2. This is a great framework to think through habits and routines as well as gatherings. Sometimes I start a habit that works in one season and continue it without really thinking of what makes sense in a new season. I like the idea of intentionally setting a time to check in and see if it still works.

  3. Yes, very thought provoking! So many things came to abrupt ends in 2020 and I’ve wondered which ones will be brought back in full force, anxious to make up for lost time, which ones will try to sneak their way back in but require a conscious ‘no, not anymore’ having lived without them in 2020, and which ones will just stay forgotten. I like the idea of being more thoughtful about ending things, especially as I face what we’re calling the ‘end of an era’ for our team at work, coupled to a major career change for me in the months ahead… here’s to The New Corner Office podcast and endings in general [raising my tea]! 😉

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