Today is January 1st. It is not only the start of a new year, but the start of a new decade.
Millions of people across the globe have decided to make pledges and resolutions, vowing to change their lives from this day forward.
I've never been one for New Year's resolutions. In part, because I've failed at many resolutions that I've attempted, and perhaps because I've found that change doesn't tend to happen in black and white terms. One day we are drinking all the booze, the next we are sober for a lifetime. One day we are eating all the cookies, the next day we are going keto, paleo, or whatever diet ends in an o. Change is not an on-and-off switch that we can flip without concerted effort.
Don't get me wrong, at the most basic level, change is dependent upon making the decision and the commitment to behave, think, and act differently.
If we are going to talk about making lasting change, then we need to talk about the part of change that is often neglected and is the reason many resolutions fail: control.
Control is the driving force behind many of our behaviors. In fact, nearly all behaviors that we deem "undesirable" are done in an effort to exercise some kind of control. We diet, exercise, shop when we don't have material needs, over-eat, drink, hyper-focus on planning, etc. in an effort to control. Sometimes we are trying to control the perceptions others have of us, or we are trying to control our own emotions, or perhaps we are trying to exercise control over our families to feel some semblance of authority or autonomy that we desperately lacked as a child.
Whatever the behavior, the root is most likely buried in control.
I'll be the first person to admit that I've got control issues. Unless you know me really well, this might surprise you. I don't present as a control-freak, likely because my control issues have nothing to do with managing others, but rather, have centered more on self-imposed perfectionism related to my health, performance, etc. I've worked hard to fight those issues, particularly in regard to perfectionism (hence why you've probably noticed a boat load of typos or grammatical issues if you're a regular reader of my articles). I force myself to post without triple checking, something that probably drives my English major friends crazy. It's against my nature, but acting in opposition to my perfectionist instincts is what has healed it and allowed me to let go so many of those perfectionistic behaviors.
So what happens when our control buttons get triggered? I've been asking myself this question a lot lately.
There are some exciting and wonderful possibilities on the horizon in my life, and in each case, I find myself hyper-focused on timelines, planning, and all the "what-ifs" that could occur.
In going home for the holidays, I was fortunate to connect with some amazing women, one being my sister-in-law and another being a friend I've known since I was 11. Both women are two of the most successful and intelligent women I know. As I discussed the upcoming possibilities that this year will bring, the worries and fears I have, and my efforts to read and learn as much as I can to make these possibilities a reality, they both told me the same thing:
Let it go.
That combination of those three words is possibly the most difficult endeavor any of us can attempt.
Yet there is no denying the peace that comes in letting go.
There is no denying the assurance, the rest, and the grace that comes in letting go.
There are complex answers to the question of how we let go, but I think the real answer is simple.
It's surrendering to the present.
It's accepting the things that we cannot change.
It's having faith that we will know what to do with what we are given.
I typically keep my writing on this blog secular, but I'd be remiss if I neglected to share that for me letting go is not something I can do alone. When I really let go it is because I know that the answers are already known, that my higher power is in control, and that it is not up to me to figure out.
Letting go is a daily (sometimes minute-by-minute) practice.
As we move into a new decade, I have complete faith that you can (and will) achieve what you set out to do. I challenge you to think about the things that you cling to, the things that you hold tight to in fear.
In order to move forward, what do you need to release?