The entrepreneurial mind is always spinning out great thoughts, ideas and innovations. Sometimes new, unexpected, and alluring opportunities present themselves. We want to do them all, but trying to take on something new—without letting go of something you’re already doing—can be a ticket straight to stress and unhappiness. Too often, we try to start new projects without being realistic. We should always ask ourselves, “Does this have the potential to move me more quickly towards my goals and dreams?”
If the answer is yes, the next questions must be “Do I have time for this?” and “Do I have the emotional energy for this?” If the answers are not a resounding yes, you’d better consider bringing something you’re already doing to an end to make physical and emotional space for this new endeavor.
What makes us hang on when we should be letting go?
- Good intentions. Sometimes it’s just that road to you-know-where, paved with good intentions. We want to do good things. We want to make a difference. We can’t always see past our intentions to what might really work.
- The Tyranny of Shoulds. Just because we can do something doesn’t necessarily mean we should. The Tyranny of Shoulds has led to many a nervous breakdown.
- Fear of missing out. When we decide not to pursue a particular path or project, there can be a kind of fear and regret that we’re missing out on the road we didn’t take.
- Fear of loss. The prospect of bringing something to an end—whether it’s an activity or a relationship—makes us feel as though the time we put into getting us to the present point would be wasted. There’s a sense of dread about starting all over again.
- Fear of failure. Endings—especially premature endings—can feel like failures, and no one wants to be a failure. What will others think of us if we quit?
Does bringing something to an end mean you’ve wasted your time?
I don’t believe any of our life experiences are wasted, ever. They have made you who you are and will serve you well as you move on. When you decide to end something, give thanks for what you’ve learned and then put it behind you. Get excited about what’s ahead.
Saying no doesn’t have to mean never
Sometimes it just means “Not now.” Always capture your thoughts and ideas in a list or notebook or Evernote document. The timing may be better later, or perhaps your idea will morph into something different and much for appropriate for a new time and set of circumstances. Keeping such a list will help minimize the fear of forgetting.
Letting go is not the same as giving up
Letting go, rather than being a passive surrender, is actually a strategic action, the purpose of which is to make room for higher priorities. Every successful entrepreneur, if they’ve been in the game awhile, is intimately familiar with failure. What they have learned is this: failure is a critical part of success. As long as we’re “failing forward,” we’re moving in the right direction.
It’s the right time to get real
The beginning of the calendar year is often the perfect time to take a good honest look at what you’re doing and decide if it is moving you forward or holding you back. Maybe it’s time to bring one or more good things to a close to make room for something bigger, something better, something amazing.
And don’t ever forget this:
Live your dreams, not your fears.