It’s the season for good-bye’s in Hong Kong. Such is the nature of our transient city. There’s a constant flow of people coming and leaving. You may be saying good-bye to a dear cherished friend or even be leaving Hong Kong after 2, 5, or 10 years. You may be ending a long period of volunteering with an organisation or getting ready to give back to a new community. So, what do you do when you feel it’s time to end your time in whatever you’ve been volunteering at, investing your life in, or building your career in?
I’ve been thinking about good-bye’s lately, especially when you know in your spirit it’s the end of one season and the often exciting, but nerve-wracking anticipation for the next. As I close my time after 10 years! at one institution (I am one of those old-soul millennials that have stayed at 1 job for a decade lol), I’ve been reflecting on how to transition and leave well. I recently heard a talk about how to leave well by… building a RAFT. This was developed by David C. Pollock and Ruth E. Van Reken to help people transition. Often we cram our month of May and June full of goodbye parties and fill our schedule to the max to see people off; however, it’s also important to take stock.
So what is this “Building your RAFT” all about?
R = RECONCILIATION
Taking time for closure matters. Making peace matters because often when we don’t take the time to reconcile, communicating hurts and forgiveness, it lingers. Just because you leave a place doesn’t mean the problem goes away. It doesn’t – instead it goes with you.
A = AFFIRMATION
Is there anyone who has helped you greatly while living here or working in the job you are leaving? Tell them. Send them a Barefoot Love thank you card :). Let them know how much you appreciate them and what they have done in your life for this season. This is good for them and for you: it strengthens your relationships into the future and makes you more aware of what you’ve gained.
F = FAREWELL
Saying good-bye is hard, especially to people and places that have become part of your everyday. Make time to say bye to anyone, anywhere, or anything that has had an impact on your life. It is so important to acknowledge all the positive, but also important to acknowledge that it’s sad to leave each person and thing behind.
T = THINK DESTINATION
It’s just that – think about the next place. Think about this open door for new adventures, new experiences, and new friends. How will it be different from where you are now? How will it be the same? It’s ok to feel bittersweet, of feeling sad about closing up this season, but also sweet in the new ahead.
In life and also short-term missions or humanitarian work, it is SO SO SO important to transition well. In our eagerness to serve or to volunteer, we often forget to do the hard emotional work of preparing others and ourselves for when we leave our time together. It’s important to acknowledge our relationships and communities, whether you’ve been there for a year or 10 years. We want to be people who build community and love well and that includes ending well as we look ahead.