Name Something You Can’t Live Without…
Ask a group of women to name a food they can’t let go, and you’ll hear a lot about chocolate, wine, and bread. The question was an ice-breaker at a recent meeting I attended. One after another, the women stated emphatically that they just could not let go of the item they named. I sat there thinking, “Sure you could. It’s easy when you decide something else is more important.” But that’s the trick: Deciding something else is more important. We tend to be much better at figuring out how to keep things rather than discard them.
I’m not going to tell you to give something up or let go of things you treasure. I’m just going to show you how to let go of something if you ever absolutely have to. Because, someday, you will have to.
To Let Go, Is To Set Free…
We each have a finite amount of space and time. When you continue to add objects to your home or commitments to your calendar, you eventually reach critical mass. But we’re excellent at denying that scientific reality, aren’t we? It’s part of what makes a person ambitious and motivated and driven: The ability to focus on the positive, focus on what’s possible and minimize limitations.
I’m not going to tell you to give that up either. You don’t have to let go of anything because ambition, drive, and self-discipline aren’t key factors here. When it’s time–really time–to let go and give up something that (right now) you can’t live without, you’ll find it’s actually quite easy.
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How To Let Go and Give Something Up
Letting go of something you consider essential probably seems like a monumental challenge, but all it really takes is two decisions:
- You decide the new thing is more important than the current thing.
- You decide the two things are mutually exclusive.
The new “thing” might be an actual object or time commitment, or it might be something intangible, like new information or a new perspective. If that new thing is more important than something you currently have, that’s strike one. If the new thing and the current thing can’t possibly coexist, that’s strike two. And in this game, it’s two strikes and that thing is outta here.
Letting Go Examples
- Smoking. Suppose you decide that being able to run a mile is more important than smoking, AND you decide that, for you at least, smoking and the ability to run a mile are mutually exclusive. If you have made those decisions confidently, with no lingering ambivalence, then smoking is no longer essential to you. You’ll experience the withdrawal and cravings as irrelevant because smoking would interfere with something more important. Done.
- Ice cream. I used to love it and would eat it even when I was trying to lose weight. I’d build it into my daily calorie budget, which meant ice cream and health could coexist. Easy: No need to choose life without ice cream. And good thing, too, because I would become a demon-woman if I wanted ice cream and it wasn’t there. My husband made many late-night runs out of sheer self-preservation.Then came the discovery that I am allergic to dairy. So allergic, in fact, that it turned out to be the cause of the narcolepsy I’d had since childhood. At that point, ice cream and health became mutually exclusive for me. Shocking as it seemed, I was happy to give it up, and I still have zero interest in having even “just a little bite.” I look at dairy products now as something that would vastly interfere with me getting all of the other things I want. Simple. Done.
OK, so maybe this is easier when you’re talking life-or-death decisions. What about the less significant ones? This is the realm of one-more-thing-itis: Sure, I can squeeze that in. Yes, I can rationalize that. Uh huh, yeah, I’ll make it work somehow.
- Dance and improvisational theater classes. Yes, technically I like one better than the other, but neither is interfering with something more important, and the class schedules and fees don’t make them mutually exclusive, so I don’t have to choose. If I couldn’t afford both (i.e. if something more important came along) or if they happened on the same night, I would then have to choose one over the other. But I don’t. Right?
Analyzing Your Ability To Let Go
Notice the enormous pitfall hiding in that example. Ask yourself: Would it be good for me to choose some uncommitted time instead of one of these? To choose the absence of a thing instead of one of those things? This is the tough stuff of
Would it be good for me to choose some uncommitted time instead of one of these? To choose the absence of a thing instead of one of those things? This is the tough stuff of organizing and time management: Deciding–truly, fully deciding–that empty spaces are just as important as things.
If that is true for you, allow it to influence your decisions about what’s important in your life and what can coexist, or not. Sometimes the choice is not just about one thing or another; it’s about choosing a thing and no-thing. Figuring out your ideal ratio of things to empty spaces, of time commitments to open hours, and aligning your decisions accordingly is where you will find that thing that you truly can’t live well without balance.
To contact Debbie directly, you may find her at www.ThoughtsInOrder.com
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