When Thriving Means Letting Go by Amy DeRosia

CC Photo by  Hossein Ezzatkhah

CC Photo by Hossein Ezzatkhah

As life moves we need to move with it, not against it. Transition happens whether we’re ready or not. Of course it’s difficult to let go, to stretch, to accommodate, and to be in between here and there yet—discomfort is inevitable whether you remain in a stagnant story that no longer serves you or you decide to choose growth. So choose growth.
— Victoria Erickson


I very much believe in practicing the art of staying and fully living where you are. But no matter how good our attitudes are or how much we fight for something, sometimes we have to start over.  Sometimes our vision, businesses, relationships, or cities fall short. We've done all we can do to make them work. But it wasn't enough.

We often underestimate our capacity for change and hold onto things too long. If we get to the point where we're constantly saying, "I can't do this anymore." After a period of time, we have to honor that truth. Listen to ourselves. Let it go.

Saying "no thank you" to something that is no longer serving us can be one of the bravest, most loving choices we’ll ever make. We know a lot of good will eventually come from this experience, but right now it just hurts.

This is the part of the process we all like to gloss over. Facing the unknown after the "not this" realization can be scary, sad, and frustrating.

At this point, we need to forget about looking for the silver lining. Feel whatever emotions come to the surface. This is an opportunity to be super kind and loving to ourselves. Do activities we enjoy. Spend time with people we care about. Savor small moments in our lives.  Take time to re-envision what we want. Uncover what we learned from the experience. What worked? What didn't work? What will we do different next time? What are we grateful for?

Even if it hurts now or you don't know what's next, trust that you will rebuild in a stronger, more sturdy way because of this. Take small actions every day to move you closer to where you want to be.

As long as you take time to reflect, you will continue to make better guesses about what you want and need. Your skills will continue to improve. You'll get closer to creating the masterpiece, solving the problem, building deeper connections with others, and feeling more at home where you are.

For now, make sure you're taking extremely good care of yourself. Keep creating and experimenting. Realize how brave you are as you dust yourself off and try again.

How Do You Take Action After Watching A Documentary? by Amy DeRosia

CC photo by Paul Dufour

We generate fears while we sit. We overcome them by action. Fear is nature’s way of warning us to get busy.
— Dr. Henry Link

Most of us have been in situations where we hear about something terrible that has happened and think, "Someone should really do something about that!" We'd love to get involved but don't know where to start.

A documentary often serves as an incredible call to action for an issue. These stories make you want to get to work. But they can be frustrating because you don't know what to do about a problem. 

I've seen two excellent documentaries recently- Making a Murderer and Shape of Shreveport.  In Making a Murderer, I learned about corruption and how unfair the justice system can be for the average American.  Shape of Shreveport taught me about our local history and how much potential we have to evolve as a city.

Both of these stories were told extremely well but left me wondering, "What can a normal citizen do after watching this?"

Getting involved with the efforts in place is an important way to create change, but this can be a slow process with petitions, meetings, paperwork, and lots of infrastructure.  We can create our own grass-roots movements but might have trouble gaining the support we need to make any sort of sustainable change. 

We, ideally, find a way to use our full scope of influence to make an impact on the world around us -using our interests, skills, and resources.  Some people find creative ways to do this, like Catherine Bracy who is a coder and an activist.

And so what you see in all three of these places, in Honolulu and in Oakland and in Mexico City, are the elements that are at the core of civic hacking. It’s citizens who saw things that could be working better and they decided to fix them, and through that work, they’re creating a 21st-century ecosystem of participation. They’re creating a whole new set of ways for citizens to be involved, besides voting or signing a petition or protesting. They can actually build government.
— Catherine Bracy

We can participate in initiatives about causes we are passionate about AND find our own problems to solve that we don't need permission to fix.

Keeping Your Own Side of the Street Clean

I don't have easy answers about how to solve  complex problems happening around us. But I do know that we can choose to focus on what we have control over. When we do this consistently, we are too busy to worry about what anyone else is or isn't doing.

Here's an exercise to help you take action

  1. Get a piece of paper and write down everything you wish you could change in the world/your life for a good 10-15 min.
  2. Cross out all the things you have no control over.
  3. Get to work on what's left.


What are some steps you've taken to help solve big problems?


How to Experiment with Habits and Goals by Amy DeRosia

CC photo by Sonja Guina

There’s no magic formula- not for ourselves and not for the people around us. We won’t make ourselves more creative and productive by copying other people’s habits, even the habits of geniuses, we must know our own nature, and what habits serve us best.
— Grechen Rubin

We often assume there is only one way to achieve goals or form habits- a skill we're either good at or not. Creating lasting change gets oversimplified- "just make a list and check things off" or "exercise more, eat less." But there is a difference between simple and easy.  The process of forming new habits is an ongoing experiment to figure out how we work best.

Most successful people make their own, personalized systems and rituals to reach their goals. Those of us who are trying to create change in our own lives copy others' methods and get discouraged when they don't work. 

We don't think twice about tweaking recipes until they taste perfect to us. The same thing can be done with systems of organization, goal setting, and building habits.

Ask yourself some questions about your natural tendencies. Such as:

  • What keeps me motivated?
  • How can I create the best environment for success?
  • What times of day do I do my best work?
  • What strengths can I use?
  • What setbacks should I plan for?
  • Do I prefer short bursts of action or slow and steady progress?

Gretchen Rubin writes a lot about using self-knowledge to build habits in her book Better than Before. She has a few free quizzes and resources on the subject as well.

I've been using her Better Than Before journal for a few weeks and loving it. In the past, I've gotten stuck on what I want to commit to for a full year and taken too long to get started. But this journal lets me focus on one week at a time. That feels way less threatening. I'm able to test habits out and see what I want to commit to for a longer period of time. You can measure your progress and adjust what needs to be changed as you go.

The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.
— Carl Rogers

Self-improvement, unfortunately, can feel like a "ways I'm not good enough yet" list. This doesn't have to be true. Remember that we're all doing the best we can and are fine exactly where we are. But part of living a good life is to continue to grow and evolve.  As we try new things, make mistakes, and learn from them, we get better.


What unique quirks have you found help you be successful with your goals?