Last Friday, 24th of November, was the Black Friday. For most, it was a day to look for the best deals on electronics, clothing, books… the epitome of modern consumerism. For me, it was the last day at work before moving to Fontainebleau for my MBA at INSEAD.
Just one day earlier, an INSEAD classmate had asked some of us the question: “Am I the only one who’s actually feeling kind of sad that I’m leaving my work?”. My first reaction was: “I am feeling excited, scared, overwhelmed, but sad? Not really!”. Now that I have been through my last day, I can say that this was not entirely true. I did feel a sting of sadness and nostalgia, as it should happen when you close a meaningful chapter in your life.
By the way, you might have asked yourself: “INSEAD classmate? But I thought you were still going to begin your MBA!”. Actually, our MBA starts well ahead of our launch week with meeting peers on social media and real life, completing assignments, digging deeper on our post-MBA career of choice and researching options for the next summer. But that could be the subject of an entirely different post and it has been discussed by others in the INSEAD MBA Experience blog (I suggest that you check those out).
But back to my main point here: many people don’t like goodbyes. I have heard some even say that they prefer that family and friends don’t come to the airport or train station when they are leaving.
Well, I actually like goodbyes.
Saying farewell to the people with whom you have worked and hopefully cherished good moments is a unique opportunity of sharing feelings. Even those who are more reserved feel that this is their last chance to say something. And I am not talking about those simple messages of “good luck, it was nice meeting you”. In goodbyes, it is crystal clear whether people actually mean what they say.
So, my suggestion for anyone who is in a similar situation, saying goodbye to a part of their life and getting ready for a new chapter, is to think about it as an assessment of the ending chapter. For those with a scientific background, think about your experiences as tests for assumptions that you have made, and evaluate the results of these experiences to conclude whether you should continue, pivot or eliminate old behaviours and assumptions. Be careful, though: when looking back at past events, we tend to exaggerate the impact of more recent events and the impact of peaks in feelings (be they positive or negative). Don’t believe me? You don’t have to, it is the Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman who says so.
I will certainly repeat this process next year during my MBA, except that in much shorter iterations. For this to work, you need to become proficient at paying attention to yourself and your surroundings, and be ready to challenge old truths. The earlier you get started, the better.
Oh, and don’t forget to take advantage of that 20% discount on a lightweight laptop. You’re probably going to need it.
Pedro Fonseca Pereira is an MBA candidate of the INSEAD class of December 2018. He grew up in Brazil but has spent most of his career as an engineer close to the French alps, developing technology to help enable the energy transition. For him, INSEAD is a year to sharpen his skills and experiment with new, such as sharing his experiences on a blog.