Things To Let Go Of For A Fresh Start
As humans, we all go through different stages and transitions in life. For example, the period of being a student, a working adult or a parent. As we progress, many things are constantly fighting for our attention. We also have different priorities or increased commitment, which often means that there are things we need to let go of (either physically or mentally) in order to juggle our responsibilities.
Similar to how we spring clean to create space for new things or to simply remove the clutter, letting go – of things, people or experiences – could help make room for new adventures, emotions and bonds.
If you feel like you want to (or are preparing to) move forward into the next phase of your life, here are a few things you can consider letting go of:
It might be sad to think of this, but the reality is that we have very limited time and capacities. If we are stuck in unreciprocated relationships or friendships, we would end up feeling drained. It could be an unhealthy friendship, toxic workplace or bad romantic relationship; or simply people that you have organically grown apart from. You have the choice to keep working on these relationships, but sometimes removing certain people from your life could be exactly what you need to help you grow. You might have a sense of regret, guilt or nostalgia, but life is too short to be held back by bad relationships.
Well, this isn’t the easiest thing to do. What are some steps you can take to remove certain people from your life?
- Take time to understand how you want to grow as a person (for example, “I want to be more patient” or “I want to be an entrepreneur”).
- Evaluate whether or not some people or friendship groups will encourage or help you to grow in that direction.
- Evaluate whether or not you are willing to put effort into encouraging them to reach their goals.
- Categorize the possible outcomes and action plans:
- Mutually beneficial (you have resources to help each other grow): Keep close and connect often.
- Mutually understanding (you might not have resources but are equally supportive): Keep.
- Unhealthy (no resources and unsupportive): Create distance.
“Letting go” of people doesn’t necessarily mean cutting them off. It simply means giving them less of your time or mental space than you previously would. The good memories you have created are still genuine and important. It just means you’re no longer walking in the same direction, and that is okay.
2. Dreams that did not come true/Goals that you could not accomplish.
As much as we try, circumstances make things difficult. You are not a failure because you couldn’t complete the goals or dreams you set out for yourself. However, this sense of regret might hold you back from achieving greater things or keep you stagnant. You have to remember that dreams and goals are not cast in stone, nor do they actually define you.
Here is one of my favourite quotes from Tangled:
“Rapunzel: I’ve been looking out of a window for eighteen years, dreaming about what I might feel like when those lights rise in the sky. What if it’s not everything I dreamed it would be?
Flynn Rider: It will be.
Rapunzel: And what if it is? What do I do then?
Flynn Rider: Well, that’s the good part I guess. You get to go find a new dream.”
Instead of beating yourself up about an unchecked bucket list, do this instead:
- Spend time reflecting on why it couldn’t be done (e.g. it’s no longer what you wanted, the economy made it difficult, lack of capital etc).
- Understand if it is still what you want to do, and why.
- Create a new set of measurable targets (or refresh your previous one).
- Develop a timeline and practical action plans.
If it is something you really want, you need to put in the hard work. However, if it’s not something you have time or resources for at this stage of your life, let it go. What is meant to be will always come back to you when the time is right.
3. Bad habits.
Let’s admit it: we all have habits. However, there are some that might have been hurting you, for example, excessive biting of nails or gripping onto things too hard. Whereas there are also some habits that might’ve made us unpleasant to be around, such as chewing too loud or being too touchy. It’s time to be intentional about getting rid of these bad habits (but don’t worry, you can take it one at a time!):
- Identify your bad habits: If it hasn’t been obvious to you, ask your friends! Sometimes we could always use a set of fresh eyes to help us gain new perspectives, especially of ourselves.
- Think of how you can replace their behaviours: It’s not easy to resist urges, but it might be easier to simply exchange them with something that is healthier. For example: if you have the tendency to munch on unhealthy snacks, you can start by changing them to healthier alternatives
- Appoint an accountability buddy: This should be someone who you trust to gently reprimand you if you end up going back to your bad habit.
- Introduce incentives: There’s no harm in making the process more enjoyable, right? Try rewarding yourself with something small if you have managed to stay off the habit for prolonged periods.
4. Unused or under-used things.
It could be clothes, devices, toys or machinery. We all have a few things that we will use “one day”, but that day never comes. Give it away or sell it off before it can no longer function (or while it still has value). There are projects, such as the Beli Nothing Project on Facebook that serves as a marketplace where people give away items for free to promote sustainability. Instead of letting things go to waste or rot away, they could be given to someone else who would fully utilize and cherish it.
Just like how physical spring cleanings sometimes end with us feeling a sense of relief and freedom, letting go of these things above might actually refresh us. When you’re moving into a new house, you don’t bring all your garbage with you, right? Similarly, it is important to identify your baggage and let them go before we move forward to the next phase of life. This is so that we don’t bring our past trauma into our new environments. Instead, we can create room in our hearts, minds and houses to open ourselves to new experiences.