The Practice of Letting Go

December 11, 2013

Entrepreneurs are often good at executing. At being consistent. At moving full speed ahead, turning ideas into reality, not even stopping to breathe until things are just the way they should be.

Here’s what we’re NOT so good at: letting go.

So that’s what I practiced during my three-week vacation this November (and it’s why you haven’t seen any updates here lately): NOT blogging, NOT writing, NOT answering emails. I practiced letting my team pick up the slack.

It didn’t come easy. In fact, it took six months of putting the right systems in place to feel comfortable leaving my business in my team’s capable hands during my off-the-grid trip to Australia and New Zealand.

Because letting go simply doesn’t feel natural to me. I see the benefits of taking time away from work, of immersing myself in hiking across beautiful mountains and people-watching in cafes and reading novels for fun. I enjoy every minute of those experiences, and I know getting away makes me a better entrepreneur in the long run. But I still have to push myself to do it.

Fortunately, letting go gets easier with practice. (Click to tweet this idea.) Views like this help, too:

Image: View from Queenstown, New Zealand (Photo credit: Ben Collins)

View from Queenstown, New Zealand (Photo credit: Ben Collins)

And you know what? Nothing blew up while I was away. Tim Ferriss says you have to let small bad things happen to get big things done. While this blog may have been neglected during my absence, that loss is nothing compared to what I gained: rest and relaxation, even more confidence in my team, and a renewed sense of wonder for the work we do for our clients, for The Write Life, and for this community.

Most importantly, now that I’m back at my laptop, I’m keenly aware that there’s more to life than RSS and revenue and SEO. Taking time away was a good reminder that work is just a piece of who I am. And that finding joy in each day — whether I’m working in my home office or kayaking in New Zealand — is what really matters.

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    4 Replies to “The Practice of Letting Go”

    • Betsy says:

      A couple years ago, I also took a trip to Australia and New Zealand and came back with a similar fresh perspective. I remember telling my manager at work that I was going to use the experience to remind myself to take a breather every once in awhile. “Do you think you can make that feeling last?” she asked me.

      I was a bit taken aback by her question, as if my 2-week break wasn’t powerful enough to make me change or something. But she knew me well. I quietly slipped back into the grind, into over-scheduling myself and taking on projects I probably didn’t need to take onto for my own long-term goals. It was hard to put myself back in that week of road tripping across New Zealand with no wifi and what letting go felt like.

      So, from my own experience, my advice is to find a way to keep practicing your “letting go” muscle. I don’t have the best insight as to how to do that, though. So maybe if you have some tips, I could use ’em. 🙂

    • Monica says:

      My husband and I love New Zealand – wish we could go again soon!

    • What a great reminder for all of us who typically work too much. Letting go and disconnecting is absolutely one of my goals for 2014. Thanks for sharing!

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