Not so long ago, I was reflecting on how life sometimes tests us, challenges our decisions, throws seemingly unsurmountable obstacles our way, lifts us up at times and then pushes us down on other occasions. When negotiating these twists and turns, it’s easy to get trapped in past experiences and things which may thwart our plans, thus hindering our progress.
Why do we hold onto the past? Why do we cling onto things that are no longer relevant in our lives?
Letting go can be tough: it can concern people, ideas, expectations, wishes, bad habits, wrong decisions, professional errors, false beliefs, unhealthy relationships…the list goes on.
Yet, every day presents an opportunity to create ourselves anew, shrug off the baggage of the past, open ourselves up to the possibility of the moment and take action to create a great future. In general, learning the art of letting go can be the answer to living a fulfilling and productive life. This doesn’t mean not acknowledging the trials and tribulations of our own reality. Quite the contrary. It means reflecting on them, extracting the life lessons, and then putting them behind us.
All of us probably have some experience with trying to unchain ourselves from something and the truth is, the harder we hold onto it, the more negative impact it may have on us, and others. Therefore, based on my experience, I’ve put together a few points to consider if you intend to break away:
Don’t be afraid of risk
Fear prevents us from reaching our potential because we miss opportunities. However, taking calculated risk, i.e. risk based on our experience and past lessons learned, can help us push boundaries. We often find that our worries are only in our head and letting these go makes us courageous and leads to greater achievements.
Keep learning (mainly from failures)
Although failure can sometimes have a huge impact on our confidence and even our finances, it doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. Our failures are our life lessons. If we reflect on what went wrong, we are less likely to repeat the same pattern. We don’t need to dwell on the failures, just acknowledge them. Then, we can commit to letting go.
Trust your decisions
Letting go is naturally about trusting our own decisions and instincts related to what is best for us. When we have done all the basic work and are clear on how to strive for our goals, letting go becomes easy. Easier, actually.
Focus on present and future
Being fixated on the past too much distracts us from what is right in front of us. Future may be an important catalyst for letting go but it requires us to be mindful about the present, to realise where we are, to open our mind to intuition and move forward.
Yes, at the end of the day, we are responsible. You need to consider that – are you strong enough to assume responsibility for your actions and what they may lead to? There is no point to blame anyone else, so be prepared to live with guilt if things don’t work out – naturally in time, you should be able to move away from that as well.
Life is not static, and change is nothing new to us as we keep going through our lives, opening and closing various chapters: some are exciting, some disappointing, some lead to big things and some take us a few steps back. We can’t be in control all the time but whichever decision we take, we should be able to look in the mirror and see someone who was brave, made effort, tried their best. Then even failure may taste more sweet than bitter.
Over the years, I’ve adopted a solution- oriented approach and a strong sense of ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way’, rather than being ‘stuck in a rut’. I always remind myself of the Samuel Beckett’s book Waiting for Godot; Godot never arrives and can be understood as one of the many things in life people wait for which never materialises.
I believe that letting go of the past and embracing future can push us towards what we want, personally and professionally. I’ve also come to realisation that courage, decisiveness and determination to make things work may lead to more success than over-engineering the scenario or waiting until something happens that triggers the final step. As that ‘something’ might never come.
“In the process of letting go, you will lose many things from the past but you will find yourself.”
By Tereza Urbánková
Tereza Urbánková is a PR, communications and marketing professional with 20 years’ experience and proven success in delivering award-winning communications programmes for multinational companies operating in industries such as hospitality, retail, IT, defence, broadcast, logistics, pharma and engineering. After having lived and worked in the UK for 11 years, she now works in Germany for Boehringer Ingelheim, a global pharmaceutical company, as Head of Global External Communication, Animal Health. Tereza is a member of the Executive Committee of the Czech British Chamber of Commerce in London. She speaks Czech, English, Spanish and Russian and can be reached through her LinkedIn profile.