Sometimes It Takes Letting Go to Find Success
Resolutions can be intimidating. Change can be terrifying. It's why so many of us find ourselves getting three, six, nine months into the year with little to no progress towards the goals we set for ourselves at the beginning of it. We’ve come to see January 1st as a fresh start. A complete reset. We tell ourselves that we’re going to start that diet and exercise more. Throw out all of those bad habits only for them to follow us and continue to weigh us down. But like all habits, good or bad, they can't be quit with the snap of a finger.
We continue to fall into the same patterns that we told ourselves we would leave behind in the previous year. And it’s not from a lack of trying that we fail to break these habits. I believe that, for many of us, it’s a matter of depending on these habits for various reasons whether they be external or internal. Breaking these habits can be that much harder when we beat ourselves up over our lack of progress. Or, even worse, have people around us telling us that if we really wanted to change we would simply do it. Only, if change was that simple we wouldn’t need to be pressured into doing it, would we? Most times, these people don’t even begin to consider that there may be things we need to overcome before we can take the necessary steps towards making those changes.
At the end of 2021, I didn’t make a list of resolutions that I wanted to complete in 2022 like I had done for years before. Doing so had never actually helped me reach those goals. And thus, over time I had lost faith in the process altogether. In 2020, with being home most of the year and rethinking everything, I had started to really consider the things that I wanted to pursue and things that I could live without.
So in 2021 instead of making a list and waiting until January 1st to start working on those goals, I started early. I started by identifying the things I wanted to change or gain in the new year and then worked to rid myself of the things that may hold me back from achieving them, whether it was literally or metaphorically.
What I learned in the process was that sometimes change isn’t the first step in the process of actually changing. Sometimes the first step entails letting things go.
Over time our behaviors and habits become like hardened clay. And when it’s time to readjust these behaviors it can be nearly impossible. We may find that it’s more beneficial to toss the original material into the trash and start over. We need a substance that is malleable enough to mold and shape into an object that allows us room for improvement. Something that serves us and what we need to start making those improvements.
With this in mind as I considered what habits I was looking to change and what steps I needed to take to achieve that change, I sat down, asked myself some questions, and went from there:
1. Is the change you’re aspiring to make one that you want to make?
Sometimes, our desire to change some part of ourselves can stem from pressure put on us by others. In this case, it might help to truly assess your feelings about it. First off, ask yourself if it’s something that you truly want, that truly benefits you and your needs. Or do you want it because you feel as if it will make you look better in others’ eyes? If it’s the latter, consider letting it go and focusing on things that you actually want to change.
2. If it’s something that you truly want, what’s holding you back from achieving it?
For me, these reasons or obstacles ranged from stress to fear to a lack of money. Some other obstacles can include discouragement from the people around us, the inability to find time in our busy schedules, or just a lack of motivation. Whatever it may be, pinpointing the exact reason(s) and working to figure out how they affect our path to reaching our goals is necessary for assuring that those reasons don’t come up later and serve as excuses for us not reaching it all.
3. Am I ready to let go of the things that are hindering me?
Letting something go could mean lots of things. For me, it meant tossing out old clothes that were taking up unnecessary space in my closet. For others, it could mean throwing out those unhealthy snacks in their fridge that could be standing in the way of them leading a healthier lifestyle. It could even mean letting go of an idea that has been imposed upon us and feeds into insecurities we may have about ourselves. Letting go of a mindset or insecurities can be twice as hard as letting go of something physical. Being able to identify these feelings takes deep self-reflection and, ultimately, unlearning it or healing. This can take place on your own or with help from friends, family, or a professional.
4. When should I start?
Don’t let the hype surrounding New Year’s be what determines when and how you work to reach your goals. Start whenever and however you want but make sure to start even if it is in small increments.
5. Stuck? Pivot!
When I find myself stuck or lacking motivation in a particular area of my life I’ve found that it can be necessary to stop, shift gears, and work on something completely different. And it’s okay! You can always circle back to that place where you found yourself blocked. And, most times, doing so can be beneficial as it allows you to return to the obstacle with brand new eyes and new ideas on how to overcome it.