As a woman who grew up with career ambitions, I made attending college my number one goal. But somehow, I forgot to account for raising a family. Shortly after my first child was born, it became apparent to me that my career would have to wait. I returned to work when I was ready, and left work again when faced with mothering a second child. Three children later, I’m finally back at work, but I first had to learn to let go.
For me, letting go meant to set aside the past expectations I had for my life. Instead, I chose to look forward toward updated, often more realistic, expectations. It also meant coming to an understanding with myself that sometimes life decisions aren’t just made one time. Often times, I’ve had to make the same decisions over and over again at different points in my life, such as each time I decided to have more children or times when I felt going back to school or changing jobs was the best move. However, actually letting go of past decisions when they no longer fit into your lifestyle is never easy. And, as a result, we end up holding on instead of letting go for far longer than we should.
Heading: Why Letting Go is Difficult
I don’t know anyone who’ll tell you that life is predictable. We all know it’s anything but. Yet, somehow, at times, we tend to beat ourselves up about the direction and course our life takes us. We complain about change. We often become stubborn and refuse to not only reevaluate our situation, but we resist making tough, life changing decisions for as long as possible.
Turns out, that isn’t just my own experience.From a blog post I read on Psychology Today, I learned that neuroscientists have discovered that our brains are somehow wired to resist change and prefer to conserve energy. Science shows that since change requires additional focus and pushes us out of our automatic, routine habits, change is a real energy sucker. Thus, change, to the brain, is something it would rather not deal with.
Perfect, our brains are naturally uncooperative.
Heading: Reaching the Point of Letting Go
So when a part of your life just isn’t meshing well anymore with the rest, how can you convince yourself (and your brain) to make the leap and let go of the past? From my own experience, I’ve learned that decisions aren’t made overnight. It can sometimes take me days or weeks of weighing pros and cons before I can convince myself to pull the trigger and start taking action that will implement change. Understanding that change takes time for the brain to accept will help take some pressure off of yourself, and hopefully, prevent you from beating yourself up when you procrastinate.
But, the tricky part comes when you have to start figuring out how to change your situation for the better. Here are a few tips for you to try when you are ready to let go, but aren’t sure how to go about it:
- If you’re a person of faith, pray. This is typically the first thing I do when I see the need to let go of something in my life. I’ll ask God to help guide me in the right direction.
- While the idea of having children isn’t something that can be undone, most decisions aren’t as permanent and can be changed if for whatever reason it doesn’t work out. For instance, if you wish you could pursue another career, instead of jumping ship from your current one, do something less drastic like attend an online or night course to test the waters. Life isn’t set in stone and there is always a way to make changes to your life without going cold turkey. If you think about changes as reversible, you’ll be more likely to try.
- If you know someone who has made a change in their life and it’s a similar change to what you’d like to make, ask them how they finally took that step. Sometimes listening to the thought processes of others can help you evaluate your own thoughts.
- Don’t allow yourself to get stuck in the planning stage. As a planner myself, I’m not about to tell you to dive into something without creating an action plan, but sometimes planning becomes just another way of procrastinating letting go. Keep your plans as simple and straight forward as possible. The tiny details will often work themselves out along the way.
- Share your thoughts on letting go with someone who’ll be supportive. Ask them to hold you accountable or to come along with you for the ride. Letting go of harmful addictions to things such as drugs and alcohol requires a strong support network and it’s strongly encouraged that you seek professional services to give you the greatest chance of success. People want to help you to improve your life and you’ll be surprised at how many people would be willing to support you in whatever it is you’re trying to let go of.
Heading: Give it a Legit Chance
Need I remind you, it’s hard to convince your brain to make changes. Therefore, you’ll probably run into a situation where your brain will want to talk you out of the change you’ve started to make. You’ll experience negative self-talk: “I can’t do this. This will never work.” You may have friends or colleagues put you down: “You’re crazy. That’ll never work.” When that happens, it’s important to revisit your list of reasons why you wanted to let go in the first place. This is your life and no one else’s.
If you feel it deep down in your heart that you need to let go and make a change, you owe it to yourself to at least give it a real chance. Maybe set a realistic timeline, if it helps. But whatever you do, don’t let the fact that change is difficult stop you from letting go of whatever is holding you back from pursuing your dreams. I truly believe that letting go is the first step toward a lifetime of happiness.
This guest blogger has inspired me with her post in so many ways. I hope you my fellow readers take note of these valuable advice and enjoyed her story like I did. Lauren is a great writer, please view her blog:https://fromthedeskoflauren.wordpress.com/, also follow her on Twitter@MyMommyCareer. Thanks Lauren for sharing today’s post with us.