The Thing You Need To Know About Letting Go – Forbes

Posted: December 16, 2020 at 12:58 am


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With all the talk these days on social media about going for it, it can feel like a lot of unnecessary pressure.

Never give up! Never stop! Never quit! Overcome all obstacles! Succeed! Win! And then succeed and win again!

While these messages and memes are meant to be motivational, theyre not specific to the individual; thus, they shouldnt be considered as universal truths for all people in all scenarios. Its of course admirable to persevere in the face of hardship - its the heros journey after all - but the message of persevering can be dumbed down to a point where it becomes an obstacle in itself.

If you have been dealing with a project or person that has presented obstacle after obstacle for you, the answer might not be in persevering, but rather pivoting or, dare I say it, letting it go.

There are a few reasons why we might resist letting go...

Holding On Is A Form Of Control

We may not want to let go of an idea, a business, a person, a project - whatever it might be - because we cant face the fact that we werent able to control a matter in our favor. We werent able to bend it to our will. We reason that if we had a little more time we could get there.

When the prospect of letting go rears its head we have to face the loss of control, which means accepting an unknown future; we are forced to accept that we cant control the external world. The upside, however, to the future being unknown is we have free will. We have the freedom to change course and try a new way.

Letting Go Doesnt Make You A Failure

Winning is so ingrained in our society that if you dont succeed, the only conclusion must be that you have failed. And when you have failed, that makes you a failure. This isnt the natural conclusion, however.

To call yourself a failure is to cement your fate and presume you wont succeed ever again. Having not brought a project to a desired completion simply means you might need to try a different method. It might mean you need to pivot. Disassociate the concept of letting go with being a failure. They are not synonymous. On the contrary, letting go is an act of bravery and maturity.

When Your Identity Is Tied Into What Youre Holding Onto

Lets face it, what we put our heart and soul into is often an extension of our identity, how we see ourselves. If we are faced with the prospect of saying goodbye to something we see as an extension of ourselves then it can feel as though were losing a part of ourselves, i.e., If this project / business/person goes away then who am I without it? This is another facet to letting go, as you have to let go of the notion that something youve created will take a piece of you with it if it goes away.

Rest assured, you will remain you despite anything external going away. Youre the source, the creations you manifest are at your mercy, not the other way around. If its a business that you must let go of, it doesnt mean youre not an entrepreneur, it means this iteration didnt work. If its a project you were working on for work, it doesnt mean youre bad at your job, it means it needs retooling. Rinse and repeat.

The Sunk / Cost Bias

Our natural biological state seeks to maintain the status quo. Our brains like equilibrium; it doesnt like change or rocking the boat. That isnt to say we shouldnt do it, but rather the brain has our best interest at heart and is trying to protect us from danger; it thinks scaring you into keeping things as they are is the healthiest way to go. Its a carry-over from primitive days and it doesnt always serve us.

Thus, we all fall prey to the sunk/cost bias from time to time, which is when we sink more time / money / effort into a losing proposition because weve already spent so much time / money / effort on the project at hand and we cant bear to cut our losses. We keep investing more time / money / effort in the hopes that things will turn around for the better, not realizing it doesnt matter how much more energy we invest, this is a sinking ship.

In these times, we need a dose of self-awareness in order to ask ourselves, Why are we persevering with a losing proposition? Is this the thing thats going to bring us closer to our professional goals? Or is it getting in the way? Its not easy to take a hard look in the mirror, but when youre not getting the return on your investment its imperative that you do.

So Whats To Be Done?

To be clear, letting go doesnt mean quitting. It means accepting what is and allowing yourself to move on despite not achieving the initial desired result. Its a more evolved approach than beating a dead horse simply because the internet - as one example - has reinforced the notion of never quitting, never stopping, never giving up, always going for it, etc etc.

Before you let everything go, however, I dont mean to suggest that when the first sign of difficulty rears its head you say goodbye to the whole endeavor. If you would like to see something come to fruition you do have to persevere in the face of challenges. You have to see it through to a certain point, put in the work, try and try again. If, down the road, youre still not succeeding then its probably time to either let your method go, or possibly the endeavor itself; at least, in its current incarnation.

But remember, youre not a failure. Youre facing the fact that your attempt didnt pan out as hoped, which takes courage.

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The Thing You Need To Know About Letting Go - Forbes

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December 16th, 2020 at 12:58 am

Posted in Self-Awareness