Letting Go vs. Adding More - The Next 30 Trips - Issue #4
When building habits, work to let go of old behaviors rather than adding new ones. Let new things develop naturally in the space created by letting go.
New Year, Same Me 🍾🥂
I gave up on New Year resolutions a long time ago. I think it was borne from a cynicism that most resolutions are based on people trying to sell things to our insecurities. Also, I believe that we can begin again any time. Since we only have today, why wait for a new year?
But like most cynicism, if we dig a little deeper we see there's more there: my own fears and insecurity. I have failed so many times at the things I have tried to add to my life. I found myself getting curious about this: how come my new habits never seem to stick (including writing in this newsletter!)
Then my friend Jay Clouse inspired me to write about this topic, thus getting two birds with one stone:
Building a Running Habit 🏃♂️📅
I spent ten years trying to build a running habit. It always started the same way: I would ski during the winter, then spring would come along to melt the snow and I'd say, "well, better try running again, I guess."
I'd then go out at a way-too-fast pace, burn myself out, walk home, be sore, then say, "running sucks" and give up.
Last February, I felt the cycle begin again. I changed two simple things, though. First, I let go of both my conceptions around running, such as having to try to run at my high school cross-country pace even though I haven't been there in 15 years or so. This was revolutionary for me: I gave myself permission to walk. It sounds so simple. If I got tired, I just stopped and took a break. Or I walked. I worked to make it a stress-free activity, rather than a stress-inducing one.
Second, I knew there was no space in my life for running, so I let go of some habits to make room. What habits did I relinquish? Spending my mornings on Twitter, for one. Spending my weekends in front of the TV, as well. Letting a habit go is just as good as adding a new one!
With the space created by those things, I started trying running. A friend agreed to be my accountability buddy and train with me. After a few months, she talked me into training for my first half marathon. I felt the old voices coming back. All of a sudden, I needed to set time goals, I needed to push things. I needed to do it every day!
But this time - I ignored them. I chose a Run Walk Run training plan and listened to books during my training runs.
A crazy thing happened: I began to enjoy running, something I had always disliked!
Then an even crazier thing happened: I realized that I felt better when I kept up running than when I didn't.
It became a habit. Not by forcing new things into a full schedule, but by letting go instead.
We Are All Maxed Out 😫🧱
Friends, I think trundling into year 'n' of this pandemic means we've taken on about all we can. We work too much, it can feel like there's little to look forward to, and there isn't much hope for relief in sight. In short, it's a bummer out there.
There is simply no room in our lives to add more! So, maybe we just try letting go a bit. I have been dropping things out of my life (like *still* endlessly scrolling twitter or futzing around in my inbox in the evenings) and not replacing it with anything. Just letting it be empty space.
Think you have nothing to drop? Maybe first just try noticing. Are there any areas of your life where you're distracted? Not present? Frantic? Maybe start there. We're all way too busy and, speaking personally, some rest would do me good.
It's hard replacing something with nothing! At first things will pull at you, "Ugh, I can't just sit here! I have stuff to do!" but resist that. Settle in. Work on this for weeks. Then a different voice may start to arise, "I'd love to write down a thought" or "I should go for a walk" or maybe it's as simple as, "Woah, I'm tired. I need a nap."
By practicing letting go, we can give ourselves a break and still make some nice changes in our lives. I'll be practicing this and if you're inspired, join me!