“Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.”
— Ann Landers
You are changing. The universe around you is changing. Just because something was right for you in the past doesn’t mean it still is. This could be a relationship, a job, a home, a habit, etc.
It happens to you slowly as you grow. You discover more about who you are and what you want out of life, and then you realize there are deliberate changes you need to make to keep up with the changes happening around you and within you.
The lifestyle you’ve been living no longer fits. The specific people and routines you’ve known forever no longer align with your values. So you cherish all the memories, but find yourself letting go and moving on.
If you’re currently dealing with this process you may feel a bit awkward, and that’s OK. This feeling is normal. I’ve been right there with you on more occasions than I can count.
Reasons to Let Go and Move On
- Someone’s negativity is rubbing off on you. – You are the average of the people you spend the most time with. In other words, who you spend your time with has a great impact on the person you are and the person you become. If you are around cynical and negative people all the time, you will become cynical and negative.
- You have grown apart from someone. – Sad but true, no matter what you do or how much you explain yourself, some people will gradually evolve away from your core values. As time goes on they will prove over and over again that they are committed to misunderstanding you and clashing with your needs.
- You are truly unhappy with your current circumstances. – It’s always better to be struggling at something you love than succeeding diligently at something you despise. (Read Quitter.)
- Your goals and needs have changed. – What was right for you then is not necessarily right for you now. Sometimes the hardest part isn’t letting go but rather realizing that you have changed, and then learning to start over with your new truth.
- Fear is holding you back. – Part of letting go and moving on is facing the fears and disappointments of the past that are binding your spirit.
- You catch yourself living in the past. – If all you do is attempt to relive something that has already happened, you’re missing out. The mental space you create by letting go of things that are already behind you gives you the ability to fill the space with something fresh and fun.
- An old grudge is still hurting you. – Holding on to the weight of anger, resentment and hatred will not only hold you back, but also block your present blessings and opportunities. You’ve just got to drop some things to move forward.
- You aren’t learning anything new. – Living is learning. All positive change is the end result of learning. If you aren’t learning, you’re simply dying slowly.
One Small Example of Letting Go
We had been friends since grade school when I finally told one of my childhood friends, “Enough is enough!” Although we had basically grown up together, we were now on different planets when it came to our goals and dreams. He believed there was one right way to do things – go to college, get a degree, get a job, and dedicate every waking moment of your life to it. I had other plans.
Although I did get my degree and a job after college, in our free time Angel and I started writing articles on the blog you’re reading now. As the blog’s reach grew, my friend discredited our success. Whenever I shared one of our small success stories, he would say something negative like, “Whatever. It’s just a blog. I have one too.”
When Angel quit her job to work on the blog full-time, my friend basically told me we’d fail. “That’s ridiculous! Angel had a good job,” he said. “You’re just playing with fire in this economy if you ask me.” To which I replied, “I’m not asking you.”
That was the beginning of the end of our story as friends. Years later, our relationship is now a mere shadow of what it was and my life is honestly far brighter for it. Letting my friend go wasn’t easy, but it was necessary for my own well-being and growth.
Ways to Let Go and Move On
Holding on is like believing that there’s only a past; letting go and moving on is knowing in your heart that there’s a bright future ahead. Let’s take a look at eight ways to design the latter.
- Accept the truth and be thankful. – To let go is to be thankful for the experiences that made you laugh, made you cry, and helped you learn and grow. It’s the acceptance of everything you have, everything you once had, and the possibilities that lie ahead. It’s all about finding the strength to embrace life’s changes, to trust your intuition, to learn as you go, to realize that every experience has value, and to continue taking positive steps forward. (This process is something Angel and I discuss in the Adversity chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- Distance yourself for a while. – Sometimes you need to take several steps back in order to gain clarity on a situation. The best way to do this is to simply take a break and explore something else for a while. Why? So you can return to where you started and see things with a new set of eyes. And the people there may see you differently too. Returning where you started is entirely different than never leaving.
- Focus only on what can be changed. – Realize that not everything in life is meant to be modified or perfectly understood. Live, let go, learn what you can and don’t waste energy worrying about the things you can’t change. Focus exclusively on what you can change, and if you can’t change something you don’t like, change the way you think about it. Review your options and then re-frame what you don’t like into a starting point for achieving something better.
- Claim ownership and control of your life. – No one else is responsible for you. You are in full control of your life so long as you claim it and own it. Through the grapevine, you may have learned that you should blame your parents, your teachers, your mentors, the education system, the government, etc., but never to blame yourself. Right? It’s never, ever your fault… WRONG! Your life is your responsibility! If you want to change, if you want to let go and move on with your life, you’re the only person who can make it happen.
- Focus inward. – It’s important to make a difference in the world. Yes, it’s important to help people, but you have to start with yourself. If you’re looking outside yourself to find where you fit in or how you can create an impact, stop and look inside yourself instead. Review who you already are, the lifestyle you’re currently living, and what makes you feel alive. Then nurture these things and make positive adjustments until your current life can no longer contain them, forcing you to grow and move beyond your current circumstances.
- Change the people around you. – Some people come into your life just to strengthen you, so you can move on without them. They are supposed to be part of your memory, not your destiny. The bottom line is that when you have to start compromising your happiness and your potential for the people around you, it’s time to change the people around you. It’s time to join local meet-ups, attend conferences, network online, and find a more supportive tribe.
- Take a chance. – When life sets you up with a challenge, there’s a reason for it; it’s meant to test your courage and willingness to make a change and take a chance on something new. There’s no point in denying that things are different now, or being fearful of the next step. The challenge will not wait even if you hesitate. Life only moves in one direction – forward. This challenge is your chance to let go of the old and make way for the new. Your destiny awaits your decision. (Read The Untethered Soul.)
- Focus on today. – You can decide right now that negative experiences from your past will not predict your future. Figure out what the next positive step is, no matter how small or difficult, and take it. Ultimately, the only thing you can ever really do is to keep moving forward. Take that leap without hesitation, without looking back. Simply forget the past, look straight ahead and forge toward the future.
The floor is yours…
What are you holding on to that’s holding you back? What’s the first step you need to take to let it go? Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment below.
Photo by: Hartwig HKD