Most of the time I’m pretty good at letting things go—or at least I think I am! What about you? The most obvious thing that we all let go of every single year is the date. In other words, in less than a week, 2012 will be history and we’ll start writing 2013 on our checks, correspondence and other items that require a date. But what about everything else? Actually, it’s likely that before we can expect 2013 to be any different than our past, we’ll need to say good-bye to things that have held us back. Here’s a few things I came up with that will surely make 2013 better in my world.
#1 Let go of habits or other routines that no longer serve me. Most of us have a few bad habits hanging around that we continue to drag into our future on a regular basis. Some of those are obvious—like smoking, overeating, or drinking too much. Others are more subtle like worrying too much about things we can’t change, not taking good care of ourselves by avoiding exercise, or spending money we don’t have to buy stuff we don’t really need. Even if we were honest enough to identify just one bad habit we were willing to release by next year—we might easily be amazed by how our life might change.
#2 Letting go of stuff we no longer need or use. I’ll bet every single one of us can look around our house and see something that you’ve held on to but haven’t used in a year. Come on—be honest! Even though Thom and I “right-sized” our living by moving to smaller home over a year ago, we’ve already gradually started to accumulate things. I’ve also hung on to a couple of items that I thought I might use at one point—and never have! Instead of waiting for spring cleaning—let’s take just a few minutes at the end of this year and recycle stuff that we aren’t using. Remember, everything you own—owns a piece of you. Make sure you’re “attached” to stuff that represents who you want to be.
#3 Time to let go of friends or relationships that are no longer healthy. I love friends and family and that is why this one is particularly difficult for me. I can sell my house or my car without any hesitation, but asking me to let go of a friend is like pulling teeth. But just like with some teeth, at some point it’s better to let them go than hang on.
A few years ago a very close friend of mine started avoiding me. It was very slight at first. She always had an excuse why she hadn’t called or sent an email—so at first I ignored my gut feeling that something was off. Gradually we saw less and less of each other until I could avoid it no longer. I tried to talk to her about it but she avoided that conversation too. Still I kept trying—calling and making dates (most of which were broken) and sending her emails. Eventually she stopped taking any of my calls or answering any emails. That was it. To this day, I don’t know what happened—but what I do know is that I’ve spent too much energy focused on her when it is best to “let go” and move on.
We can’t always know why some people are in our lives any more than we can know the exact time to let them go. But if there appears to be no resolution or benefit to our relationship, I think we hold ourselves back from what can be if we keep holding on to what was. Who knows how many other friendships I’ve avoided because I couldn’t let go of the one with her? If I want a different result in 2012 then I have be different. I’m releasing my attachment to that friendship and moving on starting right now.
#4 Letting go of projects or creative expressions from the past. Thom and I are always coming up with new projects we find interesting and exciting. That is something that we share and find extremely important to our relationship. Unfortunately, as some of you might know it’s easy to get attached to ideas and projects (especially your creative “babies”). When that happens they can start holding you back rather than increasing the quality of your life. Knowing when to let them go is a critical part of creating new and even more rewarding projects in the days to come.
For example, in 1995 Thom and I formed an organization here in the local area called “The Palm Springs Center of Positive Living.” We led the group for nearly nine years and met some amazing people along the way. We grew consciously, spiritually, emotionally, and just about every way possible. The group exceeded our expectations in dozens of ways and was a benefit to hundreds of people here in our community. Still, gradually a growing sense of obligation overtook the benefits involved, and eventually we decided it was time to call it quits.
Frankly, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I’d gotten very attached to the people, the organization and probably most importantly—to my identity as one of the leaders of such a group. But the truth is, keeping the group going out of my attachments and ego made it even more necessary to let it go. We’ve all witnessed groups, organizations and projects that should be released long after they have lived out their life. But unless we are willing to let go of something “good” how can we ever know if something better exists right around the corner?
The Tibetan Buddhists have a tradition of the creation and destruction of elaborate works of art using colored sand. They, along with other native cultures, can create an artistic masterpiece in a short amount of time and then in an instant swipe it away demonstrating the transitory nature of change in the material world. While some of may us admit that this might be a highly evolved way of looking at the world, very few of us are willing to make it a regular practice. Most of us are far too attached to our habits, the people we know, our stuff, and our projects.
The fact remains that if we want to live SMART 365 and experience something different in our future, we have to make room for it. We also have to stop spending our time, energy and resources on activities, people and things that no longer serve us. The end of 2011 is a perfect opportunity to reflect on those things we are ready to release. Once that’s done, we’ll be open and receptive to a wonderful and SMART 2012.
Happy New Year!
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”~Lao Tzu
“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned,so as to accept the life that is waiting for us.”~Joseph Campbell
“Ask yourself this question:”Will this matter a year from now?”~Richard Carlson Ph.D