What do you need to let go of?

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by Lois Barth, Human Development Expert, Speaker, Coach and Author of Courage to SPARKLE

What letting go of my Mom’s old Vitamix® taught me about reaching my goals

“Let it go.” This saying is on our inspirational notepads, refrigerator magnets, the tip of our tongues – it’s even the title song from a famous Broadway musical, but how do we do it? How do we navigate the uncomfortable feelings that come up when dealing with letting go?

My recent experience of letting go happened on a seemingly ordinary day. I revved up my late Mom’s 15-year-old Vitamix® to make my power shake: vegan organic gluten-free protein powder, chia seeds, frozen dark cherries, and spinach, and a myriad of other overpriced nutrients from across the globe. But instead of the usual hum, my Vitamix® let out a death rattle from her exhausted motor and pooped out. All I was left with was a periwinkle concoction of frozen lumps and water.

I tried everything. Well, at least my version of everything. Plug, unplug, rattle the container, call the Vitamix® folks. Yup, that’s about as far as my mechanical skills take me.

Verdict: Container needed to be replaced, but surprisingly the motor and base were fine. My option: Pay $100 for a new container, and keep on using the old one, or send it in and get $100 credit and replace it with the baseline model which runs $350.00.

It was a bittersweet moment for me since I’m a sentimental pragmatist. While I err towards making decisions that make the most sense, it wasn’t so easy with this one. Memories ricocheted through my mind, like tennis balls off a racquetball court; the look on my Mom’s face when she opened her gift from my sister, brother and me, her bragging to her “cronies,” about the “Cadillac” of blenders, beaming that ‘clearly my kids want me around a long time.’ At the tail end of her life, the constant humming of the Vitamix® when I walked into her apartment, became a reassuring presence that if nothing else, she could at least take in fluids that day. I teared up as I was cleaning out the container for the last time, realizing I was washing away those memories as well.

On paper, it made no sense for me to spend $100 to get a new container in order to keep using the old model when a $35.00 basic blender would more than suffice given my need to only make smoothies. But letting go of it was riddled with letting go of yet another connection I had to her and the feelings of loss that go with it.

So why am I telling you about my relationship with my late Mom’s Vitamix®? What does that have anything to do with reaching your goals? Actually…everything!

You see, when I’m brought in as a motivational speaker, an executive coach or in my private practice, I work with groups and individuals who are aching to make changes in their lives. Whether it’s the CEO of a small boutique firm, or a C-Suite leader who wants to up-level their team, or an individual who craves to write that book, ask for a raise, switch careers, or find true love, letting go is EVERYTHING. It is the willingness to experience uncomfortable feelings of loss, of familiarity, and dive into the world of uncertainty by taking the necessary actions to get there — shifting their beliefs along the way. Letting go is the gateway for that to happen.

I soon realized that I wasn’t letting go of an object. I was letting go of the belief that my connection and closeness with my Mom were housed in that blender. As I allowed myself to feel the emotions around those sweet and sad memories, the loss of her passing, and how much I missed her, I came away understanding that the Vitamix® was simply a catalyst for those feelings. Hanging on to the actual object connected with those feelings no longer served me.

While letting go is rarely easy, it is often essential. Here are a few principles I incorporate with my clients along with my own journey that support the ability to let go .

1) Acknowledge your feelings

I don’t care how left/right or center brain you are most of our choices are fueled by our feelings. Multiple studies confirm that and we all have a boatload of “impulse items,” or actions we take generated by our feelings. The more you are willing to breathe and ride the wave of your feelings with no judgment, or as judgment-free, as you can, the more clarity you’ll get as to what feelings are running the show. As a result, you’ll make decisions that better serve you. I’m not talking about paralysis analysis and overthinking, and using that as an excuse to procrastinate. I’m talking about really breathing and being willing to be present with the feelings that come up for you around letting go.

2) Focus on what really matters to you

I work with teams who are required to take actions that scare them. These actions also energize them and allow them to put themselves out there in ways they’ve resisted in the past. To achieve this, I ask my clients to focus on what their desired goals are; what matters to them. It’s fascinating to witness someone’s willingness shift when they reconnect with their desired goals dreams and outcomes. Letting go is one of the many tools that allow them to move forward. 

3) Find a way to honor what you’re letting go of in a meaningful way

In the case of my Mom’s Vitamix ®, sharing the lesson I learned and using that to motivate others is a key to keeping her legacy alive. As a family we would spend hours around the dinner table dissecting human behavior, analyzing why we do what we do, always throwing in a great story or two and having a laugh. This is a far more valuable way to stay connected with those memories than spending money on an old blender that no longer serves my needs. Now when I look at my new basic blender, I’m reminded the power of letting go!

I offer the same guidance in dealing with my clients and groups.

What do you need to let go of? Do you hang on to the familiarity of the past so people won’t feel uncomfortable around you? Do you hold on to old beliefs that you’re not good at “a, b, or c”, so you don’t have to take the risk and find out? It doesn’t matter.  Be curious and compassionate with yourself. Doing so will create greater freedom in letting go.

Much of the work I do is about giving my clients permission to show up in a new way, to take risks, and to be more engaged. In doing so, not only are they more revitalized, they bring more productivity, positivity and desirable outcomes to their own lives as well as their team.

Life is Short. Life is Precious. Sparkle NOW!

What do you need to let go of to create the life you desire? How can I help?

If you’re looking to make major changes, increase engagement, enthusiasm, and productivity, we need to talk. Schedule a 30-minute complimentary discovery call to start you on your way.

Lois Barthis a human development expert, motivational speaker, coach, and thrilled to have delivered her first ‘book child,’ “Courage to Sparkle.” She champions women to share their brilliance and to live an authentic life. She speaks at women’s conferences all over the country and has been quoted in The New York Times,The Wall Street JournalFitness, Weight Watchers, and MSNBC.com to name a few.

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