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 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?

Why An Annual Review Is Worth Your Time by Amy DeRosia

"So may all that sits unsettled and undecided within you,
may all that weighs heavy upon you,
may all that grasps and all that grabs and all that demands,
may all the loud voices and the persistence of self-doubt,
may the fear and the frozen and the fractured and too-broken,
may it all, may it all, may it all
wash from your skin
and out into the night,
to never
be able
to hold you
down again.
It is a new day, new year, the old has gone,
kiss her goodbye."

-Joel McKerrow

Attempting New Year's resolutions year after year without results is frustrating enough to turn many people off of goal setting completely.  But if you want to build new habits, one of the first steps is assessing where you are now.

An annual review is a great way to celebrate the wonderful things that happened, figure out what worked, and let go of what did not.  Some years are not fantastic. Painful years often need healing and closure. So be gentle with yourself.

I've tried a lot of methods over the past few years to create successful change in my life. None of them have fit me perfectly, but each year is a closer guess. We have to take the time to figure out what works for us as individuals.

Chris Guillebeau  leaves town for about 10 days every year to do an annual review and focuses on two questions: 1) What went well? and 2) What didn't go well? You can also ask two follow up questions: What did I learn? What do I want more of?

End of the year rituals can be as simple or detailed as you want them to be. But we could all benefit from a little self-reflection and a new start.

What tools and rituals do you use to reflect on the past year?