As we develop sustainably productive habits, there is a need to flip the coin over to look at what we need to stop doing. To let go of what is not serving us physically, mentally, and environmentally means we make room for what we want to build in our lives.
Let’s be clear – letting go is hard. But we can do hard things. I am inspired by what Louise Smith has to say about it.
“You can’t reach for anything new if your hands are full of junk.”Louise Smith
Today’s post will apply this idea to each of the three dimensions of sustainably productivity.
For many years I considered myself an endurance athlete. I raced in dozens of triathlons, half marathons and marathons. I am turtle slow, but they gave me a race bib so I call what I did racing. All the miles eventually caught up with me and running became unsustainable for my body. I had a few orthopedic surgeries. Then the doctor said if I wanted to be able to hike and walk the dog in my 80s I needed to stop running now in my 40s.
I cried right there in the office. I did not want to let go of running. Which is so ironic considering
1 – I am not good at it. See Team Turtle comment above.
2 – For years playing basketball, running was punishment.
3 – Running hurt.
But alas, love hurts, right? All the songs tell us that. But Tina Turner reminds us: What’s Love Got to Do With It?
Lucky for me I was in a place in life where I was making changes towards sustainable productivity. I knew that continuing to run was not something that would be productive for me long term. That surgeon knew exactly what button to push with me.
Yes – I do want to be able to get out in nature in my 80s (and beyond!). If I needed to leave my ego and my running shoes behind to do that, I was open to it.
Speaking of Tina Turner, have you ever been in a relationship you knew had run its course. You knew it was not good for you, but you just did not seem to leave it? We may not have an extreme version like Ike in our lives. But I bet we all have Ike-light relationships we are hanging on to because it’s hard to let go.
Do any of these sound familiar to you:
- A friend who is always bashing her spouse and encourages stories about frustrations with your partner.
- A coworker you go to lunch with regularly who has to “one up” everything you say.
- A book club where you are the only one who actually reads the book and didn’t just come to drink wine.
Relationships can weigh heavily on our minds, drag down our spirits, and even negatively impact our physical health. After following 10,000 subjects for 12 years, a study found that compared to subjects in healthy relationships, those in negative relationships were at a greater risk for developing cardiac issues – including fatal heart attacks.
We need to let go of relationships that do not support who we are or who we want to be. This will make space for relationships that are sustainably productive. Maybe that relationship is with yourself.
What would happen if you ate lunch alone instead of with your needy colleague? You might read, listen to music or podcasts, or just sit and eat with no distractions. What if this is the break you needed to take your afternoons by storm. Could you finally make headway on that project that has been stalled?
What if you surround yourself with other women who cherish their partner? Sure they still have conflict in their relationships. But they have encouraging stories about how they worked through it because they had a partner who was worth it.
Without letting go of the relationships that are not working for you, you can’t make way for the ones that will serve you and sustain you.
Decluttering is always popular and it seems like this quote applies most intuitively here. If you are hanging on to your literal junk, you cannot reach for anything new.
I have a section of my closet dedicated to my business suits. I no longer wear business suits. If I am honest, I probably no longer fit into said business suits, but am unsure because it’s been
15 pounds 10 years since I tried.
But alas I cannot let go of these suits. As I have been cleaning out closets in our home, these suits have loomed large in my conscience. They seem to be waving at me (or flipping me the bird) when I go into my closet. I seem to be given them lots of power.
Instead of just fabric, for me they represent moments in my career where I felt strong and in flow:
- Job interviews
- TV segments
- VIP presentations
- Community lectures
I finally took down one suit over the weekend and channeled my inner Marie Kondo. As I took it off the hanger, I thought of all these moments of flow with fondness. I had a moment of Wizard of Oz type of clarity that the suit did not give me strength and flow to deliver on these occasions. It was in me all along. I am still here, the business suit was just a witness to it. And now it is time to allow it to witness for someone else. It is time for me to reach for something new. In order to do that I need to let go of these suits.
Now to be clear, I was still a little sad and still have about 10 more suits in the closet. But a start was made. That is all we need to do today is start.
What do you need to break off a little piece and let go of? Is there something in your life that you are holding tight that you might need to release? What if you just loosen the grip?