The end of the year is a painful time for me — even though there is so much joy going on around me.
It never fails that at some point during the 2 weeks surrounding Christmas, a melancholy cloud floats over me and the part of my brain that I’d locked away suddenly opens up and starts f-ing with all the relaxing and good cheer I get to experience during the holidays.
Painful things float to the surface that I haven’t let go of. Dreams and goals that weren’t reached. Rejections that I can’t seem to forget. Failures that seem bigger and more important than the victories.
I literally feel like I’m standing on the scale in my bathroom and the weight of all this yuck is making me see a number and person I don’t want to see.
I’m measuring my worth and the “how was this year” rating by these not so great negatives hanging onto my psyche.
We’ve all got a pile of stuff we hold onto in our physical world, in our emotions, in our heads…things that happened, didn’t happen…and for some reason many of us can’t quite move forward.
But there’s a bright side to all this! I swear! I won’t take you to the depths and leave you there.
THANK GOODNESS 2011 WAS DIFFERENT.
You see, even though I’ve got plenty to resolve myself, I’ve learned what it feels (and looks) like and how to actually let go of some of this painful stuff in order to make room for a life that matches my vision.
Why do we hold onto the past – even when it no longer makes any sense?
Well, I know why I hold onto the past and specifically the things I don’t really need anymore and I suspect many of you feel the same…
And here it is… it feels more comfortable and familiar to keep doing the same thing and thinking the same thoughts and complaining about the same things every day.
Did you read that? It feels more comfortable to keep feeling the same way.
What The Funk?
We get caught up in all of our drama and the reasons that we live the way we do, that it’s hard to let anything go. It gives us identity, something to talk about, something for others to talk about (about us!)…it’s crazy but we like that people talk about us when we’re not around…
The tough reality is this: this idea is who we wanted to be or still think we are, but haven’t actually looked in the mirror to face in a long time.
It’s scary to admit we aren’t something or someone we thought we were or didn’t get what we told everyone we wanted.
It feels like a gaping void where we have no identity.
But you can’t live like that forever and expect to experience success in other areas of your life.
Each day you spend clinging to a past, outdated definition of yourself, it makes it that much harder to break.
Pretty soon – life has passed you and you’re in the rut for good!
Or so you think.
Break The Pattern Now
If you want the world to see you differently and to start having new opportunities…here’s a hint.
It’s all on you….
Drop your own definitions of yourself.
Here’s an easy way to do it…call yourself out and just ask yourself – WHO ARE YOU?
Take a moment right now to ask yourself who you are. Don’t worry – there’s no test here, but be completely honest with yourself.
If you want – write it down.
If writing doesn’t do it for you…Look at yourself in the eyes in the mirror. Deep in the eyes and say “Who are you?” It feels weird, I know. I have a tough time doing this exercise as well.
Now – listen to what answer you get. It may surprise you.
Letting Go Is A Process
Since you have a shockingly consistent flow of ideas and dreams in your brain throughout your life, you can’t just do this once and be done with it. That’s why I created a manifesto or little reminders that tell me when it’s time to let go of something. Read on to see my manifesto in progress…
The Manifesto of Letting Go & Moving Forward
Now, I’m going to share with the world – for the very first time – my ever-growing Manifesto of Letting Go & Making Peace.
You’ll see a lot of talk about dreams – what can I say…I’m a dreamer!!!
If you have that creative spirit, you probably have a lot of unfinished dreams floating around in your head – or slam dancing depending on how much room there is left to “float”.
If you want to print the whole thing out or save it for later, let me know and I’ll send my own pdf.
1. Dreams are meant for you only if it fits your current life and goals.
2. Letting go of dreams doesn’t make them failures.
3. When people no longer uplift your life, you owe it to yourself to decide whether you can afford to keep them in your life.
4. Changing your mind at any point in your life is your prerogative.
5. Stop chasing dreams you don't really want anymore.
6. Holding onto a dead dream prevents you from dreaming new dreams and making them a reality.
7. Schedule regular time to review your goals and big dreams – to make sure they are all relevant.
8. Prioritize and re-prioritize your dreams often.
9. If you can’t decide what to do with a dream, take 1 step or action toward the end goal. Then, ask yourself again if you want it. Rinse. Repeat.
10. If you’ve had a dream longer than 1 year and you’ve done NOTHING to further it, drop it.
11. Spend time everyday to dream new dreams and keep them somewhere they can percolate until you are ready for them.
12. Take 1 action every day on an important dream
13. Focus on 1 dream at a time.
14. Take responsibility for dreams that didn’t become reality.
15. Drop any dream that doesn’t scare you a little.
16. Share your dreams with people who care about you, but don’t give a shit if they don’t support you.
17. Don’t immediately reject dreams suggested by other people…consider them and then decide what’s right for you.
18. People have expectations for you – you do not need to fulfill every expectation no matter what these people tell you.
19. Let go when you are good and ready, but know that it has to happen at some point.
20. The sooner you let go the sooner you’ll be able to move forward.
If you are an entrepreneur with no shortage of ideas and dreams, you’ll understand why most of my letting go manifesto is about THAT.
Letting go frees up white space…makes room for new opportunities, new dreams…and best of all…NEW ACTION.
If you want to start a business, finish your book, start your book, paint that masterpiece…then you have to be brave and LET GO of something that doesn’t serve you any more.
We all have that kind of sludge floating around in our psyches…
What do you tell yourself in order to let go of a past dream or story about yourself?
You might need to find a friend you really trust to help you go through some past dreams. Someone you feel comfortable with telling you to let certain things go… it’s a tough thing to hear from people you care about, but a powerful experience.
Leave a comment below and share something you will let go today.
image credit: Capture Queen
It’s funny how synchronistic this post is for me today and in relation the changes I have been making and continue to plan for this year. Without realizing it, I’ve been writing a new manifesto in my head, changing my goals (a.k.a. dreams), and realizing that I am and have been more successful in life than I’d previously given myself permission to believe. It all started when I was lamenting to a friend that I hadn’t done much in 2011, and suddenly, in thirty seconds, she named five goals I had reached in the first six months of 2011 alone. Dreams can be large or small, but we need to recognize each one, celebrate it, and then keep going–attaining them and creating new ones. Thanks for the reminder.
Love it!! It is soooo hard to say goodbye to the safe past or leave the safe status quo. I feel really fortunate that I was forced (or reminded) to see that reality recently.
Sometimes we get stuck on autopilot. It’s hard to remember that we are in control and can stop, go, cruise…it’s our own journey.
Another great post, my friend! xoxo
Julie Millett says
Lovely, well-timed post, Anne! I don’t have a dream I’m letting go of now, but have one that I’m leaning steeply into now, and the process of deciding to so was about the same. Doing an action every day toward the big dreams, making sure they scare me a little bit…love it.
I’m so excited to hear this. I feel like 2012 is this crazy, energetic right on year where it’s time for us all to own how much value we bring to the world. I have always tossed off compliments of a job well done or helping people…as no big deal. But now I can actually say “you’re welcome” much more easily.
It’s my pleasure to issue this reminder! Thank you for commenting !!!:)
You are a pisces dreamer too, right? I am and I love the joy dreaming brings me, but it wasn’t until I started being okay with letting some of them go that I started actually achieving and “getting” what I wanted…
It’s easy and normal to get stuck on autopilot…but now I’m looking at it as not the best practice for life. I’ve had to kick myself into gear so much this past year. Now I’m faced with a project that actually scares me a little – like holy moly – now I BETTER do this!
Scare yourself to get off autopilot -lol-it’s working for me!!!
Thank you again – for all your support – you’ve been sayin’ it alll alonggggggg.
This came at the right time and I want to say Thank You! I’ve been feeling off and lost lately, as if I can’t recognize who I’ve become. And the big question is really, do i like who I’ve become? It’s not as simple for me as letting go of a past dream, like becoming an accomplished writer. I’ve taken steps towards some dreams, but I always never follow up. Is that a sign I don’t really want them? I’ll have to think about that too! I’ll certainly keep a printout of your manifesto to keep in my planner. 🙂
Cathy Presland says
Love this Anne. I know exactly what you mean and I am smiling at myself as I read this. Not always easy to let go and I sometimes excuse myself by having a metaphoric ‘maybe’ pile 🙂