Let go so you can succeed at doing what you love

Maybe you’re aware that you have to start making changes in order to succeed at what you love.

Some of these changes include letting go of stuff.

Not because someone is telling you to, but because you’re ready to let go of limiting beliefs, expectations and bad habits in order to achieve real happiness and success.

Here are 5 things to let go of:

Let go of perfectionism

I have yet to meet a perfectionist who doesn’t wear the label – “perfectionist” – with pride.

Her story goes something like this:

“I’m detail-oriented, diligent and poised. I hold myself up to high standards, and I’m often praised for being highly organized and methodical.”

Maybe you recognize yourself in the above narrative?

And maybe you realize the time has come to do something about it.

Because perfectionism is a barrier.

It’s a barrier to happiness.

It’s a barrier to freedom.

It’s a barrier to meaningful relationships.

It took me a long time to realize that my anxiety, for example, stemmed from my perfectionism and my need for approval.

Here are a few examples of perfectionist behaviour:

  • You’re constantly second-guessing yourself (eg., should you have published that personal post about the time you shacked up with unsuitable boyfriend #6 in a hut in the mountains of Timbuktu? Yes? Nah? Maybe?).
  • You are super “thorough” in everything you do, so a social media post that will take someone else 3 minutes to do, will take you between 30 to 45 minutes.
  • You re-read your emails at least a dozen times before hitting send.
  • You put off doing tasks that you find “difficult”.
  • You avoid trying out new things because you fear making a mistake.
  • You’re an avid “list maker” and spend an unreasonable amount of time on your “to-do” lists.

Starting today, here’s what you can do:

  • Replace perfectionist thinking with more realistic statements like “Nobody is perfect.”
  • Strive for excellence instead of perfectionism.  People who strive for excellence set achievable standards for themselves and take steps every day to learn and grow. Perfectionists set unrealistically high standards for themselves and fear disappointing people and making mistakes.
  • Feeling low? Strike a power pose and hold it for 2 minutes. Take up more space with your body and keep your back straight. A power pose raises testosterone levels and decreases cortisol (stress hormone).
  • To learn, you have to make mistakes. So, make mistakes!
  • Identify the tasks that you keep putting off doing because you either lack know-how or interest and decide if you can afford to outsource these tasks or hire help.
  • Name your beast. Perfectionism is rooted in fear. In particular, the phobia of “making mistakes” and being seen as flawed. What are you afraid of?

“I think perfectionism is just a high-end, haute couture version of fear. I think perfectionism is just fear in fancy shoes and a mink coat, pretending to be elegant when actually it’s just terrified. Because underneath that shiny veneer, perfectionism is nothing more than a deep existential angst that says, again and again, ‘I am not good enough and I will never be good enough.’“
– Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

Let go so you can succeed at doing what you love

Let go of a need for constant order

Orderliness is having a sense of where things belong and how they relate to each other, and keeping them organized accordingly. When there is a place for everything and everything in its place, then we are able to think and work efficiently. [Source]

Part of my job includes helping entrepreneurs set up systems and processes for their businesses so it won’t surprise you to learn I value accuracy, efficiency and process. There’s a good chance that you do, too.

Because let’s face it, we’ve been led to believe that neatness and orderliness = clear thinking, which will then hopefully translate into success.

What might surprise you, though, is that I value creativity way more, which is why I encourage my clients to let go and mess up on a regular basis. 

You see, creativity flourishes in a little mess.

In their wonderful book, A Perfect Mess, authors Eric Abrahamson and David F. Freedman recount the story of a fifth-grade public school class where the teacher has one rule: the students can keep anything they want at their desks, as long as it fits inside their desks at the end of the day. One student always had a few extra books, a pile of art in progress, several puzzles and more and so fell short of this goal every day.  After a few weeks of struggle with this student, the teacher had an epiphany.

“I realized it wasn’t about discipline,” she said, “it was about curiosity. He found all this stuff interesting. And why are these kids here? To be neat or to be stimulated?…”

When you’re at work, be curious and open to inspiration, because creativity and innovation will keep you ahead of the competition.

Starting today, here are a few things you can do:

  • Clean your desk and get organized at the end of each workday and NOT during work hours.
  • Surround yourself with things that inspire you like candles, beautiful artwork or books by favourite authors.
  • Always have paper and colour pencils or markers at hand so you can doodle and write down ideas.
Let go of the past

Many entrepreneurs like to tell stories to themselves like:

“Oh I can’t do this because when I was seven…”

“My other business failed, so why bother starting a new one? I think I’ll just give up on my dream.”

“I made a fool of myself at that networking event, so I’ll just stay curled up with my cat on the sofa for the rest of my life.”

The problem with this is that ruminating on your past mistakes is preventing you from being and doing more in the present.

In his book, The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle reminds us that we don’t have to give our old stories so much mindshare. We can choose instead to be alert and completely present in the here and now.

“Every time you walk up and down the stairs in your house or place of work, pay close attention to every step, every moment, even your breathing. Be totally present.” – Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

Here’s what you can do starting now:

  • Accept that you have no control over the past. You cannot change what happened. 
  • Live in the moment. By being present and alert, you can – to a very large extent – shape your day.
  • The person you were ten years ago (or even yesterday) is not the person you are today. Make peace with that. Love who you are now.
  • Do your best every day with what you have.

“Nothing ever happened in the past that can prevent you from being present now; and if the past cannot prevent you from being present now, what power does it have?”
– Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth

Let go of the future

We hide our light not only in the past but also in the future.

We say things like “someday I will…

write that book.

enter that competition.

submit my podcast to iTunes.

Go for it now. The future is promised to no one. – Wayne Dyer

Procrastinators, in particular, enjoy basking in the uncertain light of the future. 

I’ll put off doing this today because…

I can’t get this done until I have more (money/time/followers…)

If you’re guilty of putting off doing things that you can do or at least start working towards today, here is what you need to remember:

  • It’s ok to dream of a brighter future but work hard today.
  • The present moment is all you have.
Let go of the need for a specific outcome

When I was eight years old, I wanted to be the proud owner of a rare 1970 Barbie and Ken Pink Dune Buggy. 

I let Santa Claus know via snail mail, and I was very vocal about letting every adult I knew (this included neighbours) that I wanted that particular buggy for Christmas. 

I remember wanting it so much that my body trembled with anticipation.

Christmas finally arrived, and I got three Barbies and a Barbie car, but no 1970 Pink Dune Buggy.

I was miserable.

It’s one thing knowing what you want and pursuing it with passion, but a whole other thing becoming mentally obsessed with something.

Many of us do this in business. 

We become fixated on specific outcomes.

For example:

  • 6 figures in 6 months
  • 148 sign ups for my new paid course by X date

And when things don’t happen the way we imagine they should, we feel like failures.

The key to achieving your goals is learning to let go of specific outcomes.

When you let go, your body chemistry and feelings change.

You go from feeling anxious and stressed to feeling freer and lighter.

If you struggle with this, here are a few things you can start doing today:

  • Turn your focus to the processes or steps you need to implement and achieve in order to accomplish your goal. Remember to enjoy the process.
  • Stay open to multiple possibilities. Remember attachment = inflexibility. Rigid thinking prevents you from seeing opportunities and new avenues for success.
  • Check in with your body every few hours. Ask yourself how am I feeling? If you’re feeling too attached or frustrated or nervous for example take a break from your work to clear your mind and raise your vibe (dancing helps).
In closing

It takes more than a spritz of expensive perfume and a little chutzpah to follow your heart and run a business.

It takes enormous courage, patience and a willingness to ease up and let go of certain beliefs and habits to really succeed.

Let us know in the comments below what habit you need to let go of…

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About Yolanda

Yolanda is an online marketing strategist and social media manager with over a decade of experience working with startups and entrepreneurs. She is the Chief Officer of Happiness at suite532.com and is a frequent guest writer for The Essential Website. Facebook | Twitter

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