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What are you holding on to?
Our lives are full of stuff. Just look at your neighbor’s garage (or your own) and you’ll be reminded that this is true.
It’s hard to part with stuff at times – a relationship that isn’t working, old ways of doing our job, lots of books and paper that we cart around from house to house and office to office.
Why don’t we get rid of it?
This episode takes a look at how we can thoughtfully look at anything we want to in our life and decide if holding on to something is still serving our needs for growth and improvement or if it is “time to say good-bye.”
Sometimes letting go creates the capacity to receive something better.
It’s all up to you to decide. And, ok if it takes some time to figure it out.
Episode 61 – Show Notes
Episode 61 Transcript
This is Rebecca Clark. Episode 61. Holding On and Letting Go.
This podcast is for anyone that knows they haven’t yet found and offered up their best work, but are compelled to seek it out and do it. Are you ready to move your desk?
This week I had yet another realization that my child is growing up because certain clothes are shorter, certain shoes are tight and it’s time to move on. And, so I went through his very small stash of clothes and very small stash of shoes and found out that half of those shoes did not fit and some of the clothes needed to be passed on as well.
My son has already taken on a despise for getting rid of things, and I think this is because of a couple of experiences he had in the first couple of years of his life, where suddenly he remembered a toy or a book and asked me about it, and it was gone. And, it was usually because I figured he didn’t care. Sometimes there were books or toys that he mused once didn’t seem to care about. I kind of hid them away, and after a while I took them to the thrift store.
I’ve realized that I cannot just discard these clothes and shoes because it’s going to create this angst in him if we don’t do this properly. So I’ve decided that I’ve put them in a pile. We’ve taken pictures of them and I’ve told him we’re going to have a special moment one of these days where we sit and talk about each item and take more pictures and then we’re going to give them to another little person that can use them that can find happiness with these things. And we will also look for something for him, something to replace the’s at the right time. I’m hopeful that this will allow us to move on, and I’ve told him that part of this process, he may be sad and he may cry and that’s OK because he truly enjoyed these things.
Now I’m not all the way Grinch. I do keep a couple of items that he has grown out of couple of toys, a couple of outfits, things like that. I’m not needing to discard in all parts of life. But, there’s something about the process that’s important, and there’s something about discerning between what needs to be held onto at what needs to be let go of that, I think is an important topic to address when it comes to our personal lives, when it comes to our things and when it comes to our work.
I’ve always loved this very simple quote from Herman Hess.
“Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go.”
That’s so easy to say and yet often very hard to do and especially hard if we’re talking about things that are very near and dear to us, like people and certain personal items we have and jobs that we may have defined part of our identity through and the process of being able to discern what to hold on to what to let go of is very personal.
Yet, I’d like to share with you the idea that as part of the process it would be important to pay attention to your emotions. And, if those emotions are indulgent .I guess what I mean by that is if you keep needing more and more of that emotion to be satisfied, so think of how you indulge in food or indulge in media or indulge in working or in learning whatever you do over indulge in.
It’s important to take a look at that and say, Is this a good thing for me? And you can know it’s a good thing if you like the results that come from it. If you don’t like the results that come from it, it’s something to take a look at. What kind of outcomes are you getting from this indulgence? Now I am someone that didn’t think I held onto a lot. In fact, I think I had a lot of personal pride and that I could let go of certain relationships. I could let go of grudges. I didn’t think a lot of things bothered me. I assumed I moved on. I’m a very forward thinking person.
But, recently I’ve discovered that perhaps I don’t let a lot of things go, and I’ve discovered this as I’ve gone through this extensive project of looking at old journals, letters, cards, documents I’ve kept from college and from jobs, and to see that even though I am fairly well organized, I had about 10 bins of paper associated with these things. I don’t know if that seems like a lot or a little to you, but that would be my area of hoarding. And along with that, I am an electronic order, right? I realized I had numerous blog’s in the double digits. I’ve written a lot of emails to myself. I’ve saved a lot of emails. I’ve saved thousands of documents, and if those were all copied off, I’d probably have 20 or 30 more bins. And I’m not exaggerating. So I’m just lucky that most of my hoarding is electronic. But I’m unlucky in the fact that I didn’t realize I was a hoarder until recently. For someone who’s very future focused, it’s amazing how much time and energy I have spent documenting the past for some future purpose. Now I’m not going to go get rid of all of that right away. But as I work through these items and read through them, I started to realize that there were some indulgent emotions going on that I were overindulging in tracking the history of my life and everything I did and created. And some of that wasn’t serving me. In fact, I’ve mentioned in prior episodes that some of the stories I told myself I discovered are not true now. And I know that based upon what I wrote, what I wrote shares a very different story than some of the stories I’ve told myself. And so I have gone through this process of learning how to do what I’m doing with my son, and that is to read through things, to gather the nuggets from them that I need until let some of them go. And that has meant having some very emotional moments as I take a look at some letters, card and writings I’ve done and appreciated them and realize they happened and then have ripped up a lot of it. But like I said, I’m not a total Grinch with myself or others. I have saved some things that I find valuable or that I am not ready to give up. Yet I am down to four bins of paper and journals, isn’t that great? And I don’t miss any of it, But there’s one area that I’m in the process of letting go of, and that is some of the documents that I had copied off of special projects I had worked on over the years, and I just decided this past week there’s no reason to keep thes. I have them. Elektronik Lee. They don’t really serve any purpose in my future. I’m super proud that I learned what I learned and lead what I let. But it doesn’t help me to use that space right now for those papers, and it’s OK if I let them go, so I let them go. But they’re still in my house. And the reason why is I kind of put them in a pile and turn them over. So they’ve become scrap paper that I write on each day. And when I write some of my thought downloads and journal entries, I right thumb on that paper now and then I decide the next day. Is that something I want to keep? Or is that just something I needed to get out of my mind that day? So, in other words, if someone were to have to go through my stuff tomorrow what, I want this to be in that stuff or what? I just want to let this go. Maybe I was confused about something. Maybe I was mad about something. Maybe I was noodling on something in my mind and maybe I just don’t need to keep it and other things I can keep. Now I’m keeping that a scrap paper partially because it was hard to let it go and partially because it’s a good use of paper. So it’s always multiple angles to look at these things. So what do we hold on to and what do we let go of? Well, there’s a lot of things that we want to hold on to as we’re going through life. And as we’re stepping up in our work and making the changes, we want to become a better person. We may want to hold on to our values or certain relationships. We may have a couple of items that re really love and use every day or love to think about something when we look a thumb and it’s worth keeping it. When we did this exercise and coaching recently where you write down 25 things that you really want and to include in that list things that we really want and that we already have. So if you already have your home, but you still want it, Write it down if you have a bike or a car or if you have a sweater or if you have a friend, whatever it is to include that in your wants list because you have it. But you still really want it. But you look at life and you realize there’s a lot of things that we can let go off, and why would we want to let go of it? Well, even though we have this unlimited capacity to learn and grow, I think our capacity to use everything is limited. And you see this when you drive around in suburbs around the United States on a Saturday and you look around and there will be these big, beautiful homes. But some people have their garage doors open and you’re like, What’s going on with that garage? It’s full of stuff. There’s this big, beautiful home and there’s not enough room for the stuff like what’s going on, that there’s so much stuff that you can’t fit it in your house and to realize that even though askew mons we have this unlimited capacity to do and become so much, we seem to have a limited to capacity at how much we can actually utilize at any given moment. And clearly, if your garage is full of stuff that’s in boxes that you’re not using, you might. I think you love that stuff, but your capacity to use it right now is not there, because if the capacity use it was there, you would be using it. It would not be sitting there dormant in the garage. When it comes to work, it’s so important to be able to let go so that we can move into the next role. I know, especially when moving into a leadership position or a management position, you have to let go of a prior identity in many cases, you know, as I coach, I’m talking to a lot of people that are trying to step it up in their jobs, and they’re saying it’s weird when they move up, because all of a sudden a relationship start to change with people they used to have water cooler chats with before. Now they have to interact with them differently because some of those chats aren’t appropriate. Some of those chats don’t occur between boss and employee in the same way that employees to employees would talk in the past. I am coaching people that air, trying to level up and share ideas with leadership. And they have to let go of prior conceptions of themselves in order to have these conversations and to know that now, when they bring forward ideas, Theo expectation is that they not just come up with the idea but provide an execution plan to go along with it. You can’t just like offhand mentioned something you say. I’m mentioning this. Oh, by the way, here’s how I proposed to have us implement it, and part of this is hard, right? You might have been very good at managing something in the past, and now you stepped into leadership and you’re no longer going to manage. And so these air letting go of old identities, letting go of things, not because it wasn’t a good experience or it wasn’t a good thing, but because your capacity to operate may be limited and you need to open the door to allow the next level of information in the next level of growth and opportunity and your space to be able Teoh use that information may be limited in your mind, but you can still honor and remember those experiences from the past. They’re still part of you, just not at the forefront at the moment. So how do we do this? How do we actually let go in a way that serves us? That’s not forcing us to let go before we’re ready at the same time, realizing that some things are in our best interest to let go if we want to move forward in our lives and all that we do. So I thought about some of these strategies, and I feel like I shared a couple already when talking about me going through my documents and in working with my son. But I have a couple more strategies that I wanted to share. When it comes to relationships and to our work, there’s an interesting approach that I’ve been learning about, where you write a letter to yourself or you write a letter to that person or to that experience, and it’s not that you’ll ever send that letter. In fact, you’ll probably rip it up in some cases, but sitting down and writing a letter to get out all of your thoughts and feelings about that person where you honor the past relationship and what you learned from it. You have decided that it’s time to move on from it, or you just share your general thoughts about it. I’ve written several of these lately, and it’s amazingly therapeutic. You can write a letter to your past self to help yourself work through feelings about yourself from the past. You can write a letter to your future self. You can write a letter from your future self to your current self, taking a moment to go. What would the future self say to me right now? In this moment, you could write a letter to a past person you wronged or someone who wronged you. I couldn’t write a letter to yourself as your former position at work and congratulate yourself on those things. You did well on those things that you realize you still need to work on. Or maybe those things you didn’t do. What, and it’s amazing how this gets a lot of emotion out of you if it’s a letting go process and you can decide whatever you want to do with those letters. But however fluffy that sounds to some, it can be a very powerful exercise. I’ve found that be on the papers that I got rid of and the papers that I said, I’ve still saved an amusing a scrap paper. There is a way to temporarily remove actual physical items as part of your letting go process. So when we were preparing our house to be staged to sell, realized that we needed a storage unit because we had a small house and any extra items seemed more like clutter than if you had a larger space to spread things around it. So we got a very large storage unit, mostly because I’m not someone who likes to pile up stuff and and everything. I like everything to be out in the open and accessible. So I wanted a little pathway. So this is a very well organized little storage unit. We took all this stuff over to it, and it was very expensive now that I look back. But we got all this stuff out of our house and it looked perfectly clean and organized for people to walk through. And after a week or so, you know, I need to go over and grab something from the storage unit and as each week passed, start to realize that you were missing some of the stuff and I purposely started to go through Ben’s wise there to go. What is it that’s actually in these? If I’m not missing anything, what’s going on? As I did that, I’d identify a few spins of things I say bins, because I put everything in these plastic bins that you can see through so you can see whatever’s in them. There’s no surprises, and you don’t have to really label them when you can see everything. So anyway, I started taking a couple of the bins directly to the thrift store like Don’t meet him. Let’s donate him. And after doing this for a few weeks like wait a second, we don’t need this big, huge storage unit. We could probably go down to something a little cheaper, so we moved everything to a different storage unit in a different hallway and again that next month started recognizing each time went back that they we don’t need this. Maybe don’t need this and started downsizing. And, of course, the price of the storage units is always motivating foot noticed after another month that it was dwindling and it was getting so small, they’re like we could probably go down to the smallest storage unit. We’ve even gotten to the point where we donated this huge, beautiful treadmill. I absolutely love that treadmill, but it was not serving the purpose at that point, and so I let it go. We ended up in a small storage unit that had 10 or 15 bins and a couple of stray items, and that was the point where I realized we can bring this all home now, though I don’t like to. I can stuff thes into the existing closets and it will be okay now what I really liked about that process is it. We removed all of this extra stuff from our environment, but we kept it in a storage unit, but we didn’t keep it and forget about it. We went over each week and look through the stuff and started to realize we refine without it, and this took probably three or four months, maybe even five. I would have to go back and look at receipts, but what’s important is that we allowed a little time and space, right? Got it out of the house, still accessible if we want it. But over time realizing we don’t want a lot of it and it’s OK to let it go. And I really love what my sister Rae Anna, told me a couple of years ago that, you know, let it go to someone who can use it. You’re just holding on to it. What if someone could use that thing? And that’s true, really right. We don’t want this dormant potential just lying around. What if someone else could get use out of that right now while it’s still good, while it still has a life, right? Like I gave my bike up. I loved that bike, just like I love that treadmill. But our living situation was such that we didn’t have a lot of space for this, and I wasn’t writing my bike, so I gave it up and I gave up the helmet to, and these things have a shelf life, right? Bike helmets have a shelf life. It could be new and beautiful looking, but if it’s three years old, you probably should get a new one. The materials deteriorate, but why not have someone else use it. And the beauty is, is it creates space in your life for something else to do or become or have something else. And you know what? 90% of the stuff we keep can be repurchased right? Most of it’s not unique. It can be repurchased when it comes to work. Letting go can be just as difficult as letting go. Some physical things were more difficult if it’s tighter identity, but I love cars three from Disney. His lightning McQueen still thinks he has a lot of racing in him, but as he goes to the races, he notices that a lot of his friends have moved on and he’s not ready to move on. But yet the young recruits coming in are kind of nudging him to move on right. They’re making comments about him and how they watched him on the screen when they were little. Boys are little girls and how they wanted to be like him when they grew up. And you could see the angst he went through is he kept practicing and trying to be that car that he used to be, and yet everyone around him had mixed feelings about that, so his close friends wanted him to race again. But the young ones air saying, Hey, time to move on, Dude. And even the car guy with the money who wanted to sponsor him felt like he should move on and just enjoy the royalties that came from such a great car racing career. But he had to go through some trials and challenges to realize Wait a second. I’m not the same that I waas and maybe that’s OK. And he didn’t really realize that until he was in the middle of a race and he started to have some problems in the race. And he simultaneously realized that the trainer that had been training him had the skill set and the desire to race. And she was a young trainer but that he was the person our car that could give her a chance in the world of car racing. And it’s that point. He went through this transformation of letting go of his racing career while also understanding that his future would include training other cars to become what he had become and what a beautiful way to honor and hold on to part of your past experience and part of your past identity while stepping into a new identity that helps others become what they want to become. And that’s a process I’m going through right now, letting go of everything I did in the past while also honoring and holding on to all the lessons learned. So that could be part of what I offer up next. And what if I held onto all of that and wanted to keep doing that in a different capacity while I certainly could. But what that also would mean is that I hadn’t opened myself up with some more capacity to receive into my life more training and learning in a new area that I feel is part of my future. And so learning how to coach, learning how to coach myself, learning how to coach others, learning how to do online marketing and learning how to further build out websites and right sales, copy and set up memberships and set quarterly goals toward revenue and all of that kind of stuff that are part of my future. I wouldn’t be opened up to if I was going back and trying to get the same kind of work I already had experience in. But someone else might decide that. Yes, they want to do that and that’s fine. And that’s why these holding on and letting go situations air so very personal. I think one of the main points that I would like to make is just to make it purposeful, to think about it and don’t default and make sure that as you look at everything in your life, when you look at the people, when you look at the things when you look at the work you dio that you pay attention to if you’re over indulging in something, it’s very easy to see this with things and be able to make an assessment. And it’s a lot harder with people and with past experience and there will be some emotions along this process. But I can tell you it’s worth it because deciding to work through the process of letting go something means you are opening up your capacity to receive something else wonderful that can propel you into that next phase of personal growth. And it’s an action that all people that are moving their desks take on a regular basis. Thanks for listening. Thanks for listening to the show today. If you enjoyed it, I’d love if you’d write a review and share the show with your friends, sign up for a weekly nudge at move your desk dot com. See you next Monday.