Knowing When – and How – To Just Let Go

It’s good for your well-being and your career progress

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As ambitious and tenacious women, often we can hold on too tight and think we have to go full speed at all times. I worked with a career woman who was finding her life balance was out of kilter making her resentful at work and grumpy at home. The knock-on effects were alienating her colleagues at work and she was perceived as a negative influence and, at home, you can guess; it’s not much fun having someone around who’s distracted and thinking about being elsewhere.

She was never able to let go; being so fixated on her to do list meant that she was constantly in a state of follow-up; suspicious whether things were being done and then, when they had been reported, she had the unstoppable sense of needing to check. Doubling up the work, as well as creating a sense of distrust.

Although this is an extreme example, sadly it’s not uncommon and here’s the thing, the energy (mental and physical) it takes to hold on so tightly is counter-productive. You can end up depleted of energy for things that do matter at the cost of holding on too tightly to the things which you can just let go of.

Here are some examples where you might be holding on too tightly:

  • Having to go to every meeting you’re invited to without thought of sending a representative or going to every other one.
  • Not asking what the meeting is about and questioning whether you need to be there.
  • Saying YES before you’ve even thought about the knock-on effect – for every YES you say, you’re saying NO to something else anyway so you may as well know what it is – supper with your family, a class at the gym, a drink with your team, you get the idea – choices.
  • Being ‘married’ to your to do list and feeling lost and twitchy without it.
  • Having to know every detail of what’s been said, done, decided on.

I’m not suggesting you let go to the extent you don’t know what’s happening or who’s done what and when. What I am suggesting is that you let people drop the ball sometimes, let go of having to know/sort it all so that others can step up and share the responsibilities, then you can focus on what’s really key.

Here’s my dare for you to let go of a few things and notice what you notice.

  • Look at the next month in your diary. See where the gaps are and book a lunch with a friend, contact, spend time at the gym, take a half-day, do something which makes you realise you have control over your time.
  • Look at the commitments you have and ask yourself “what would happen if I wasn’t there? What would I do with the time and what would I miss?” This makes you question whether it’s just a habit or a ‘should be’ rather than a really important commitment.
  • “If I just couldn’t do it – what would happen?” and then look at how that person/situation can support you now rather than the worst-case-scenario you just dreamed up. That to me is why letting go is less about ‘not being able to’ and more about ‘choosing to do something else’.

We only have so much time and energy and where and how we choose to invest it separates us from the seemingly successful and the less so. Jim Rohn, the famous author and speaker, said “Time is more precious than money. You can get more money but you cannot get more time.”

Known as the Savvy & Influential Communication Expert, our Life Labs contributor, Kay White, is hosting a unique 3-day Live Event “Show Up; Sparkle & Be Heard LIVE” in London on 6, 7 and 8 October and as a guest of Psychologies, use the code GLITTERBALL and take 50% off your seat.

Let’s make it your time to shine at work without selling your soul. When would now be a better time to go for Promotion, Recognition and Rewards all while being true to yourself?

For further immediate ‘shots’ of inspiration and tactics on showing up at work in a way which gets you heard and understood, try Kay’s Weekly Podcast on iTunes:Show Up; Sparkle & Be Heard . They’re short and snappy and full of tips to inspire and guide you at work.

Kay White

Savvy & Influential Communication for Ambitious Women in Business,