Release Responsibility + Control

Spring is in bloom here in Ohio and I am experiencing a creative reawakening. It is a conscious remembering that what we ask for the universe provides. We are showing up in new ways, refreshed and transformed. Making space for those activities that bring me joy and that inspire me. I am no longer available for those activities that drain my energy or leave me feeling unfulfilled. There is a natural resurgence of energy as if spring demands a release of responsibility and control.

To show up authentically we release all of those things we do not need. We are born naked, what can we take off? What do we no longer need to bear the burden of carrying? I have found in life that it is incredibly easy to take on things that are not my own. We collect obligations, tasks, work, and labor. I have held onto many things out of a false sense of responsibility. A desire to fix what is not mine to repair.

I once received a powerful bit of advice from a stranger in passing. She said, “Love is not meant to be held or given, it is meant to flow through us.” In this way all energy and emotion should pass through our lives. The goal is to be porous like sponges, able to absorb only that which is intended for us and release the rest. This allows everything not meant for us to pass quickly without lingering. Another way to think of this message, “those mountains you are carrying, you were only meant to climb.” 

Author Anne Lamott asks, “What is help if not the sunny side of control?” Releasing control is the greatest gift we can offer to ourselves and others. To release control we remember that our value is not tied to our productivity or performance. We all have intrinsic value. When we purge all of the things that are no longer ours we make space for the relationships, experiences, and gifts that we are intended to receive. We trust that that which is meant for us will come to us. We need not be responsible for more than our fair share of work or duty. Our value is not tied to our labor or our misplaced obligations to fix, repair, or care for others. 

We are here to create and give the best of ourselves to the world. As we create our own paths, let use put down the mountains we have carried. Let us climb them instead and leave all of the extra weight that rightfully belongs to other people for them to manage. This spring we are no longer bearing the burden of someone else’s mistakes or issues. Each of us is free to manifest our own destiny, no longer encumbered by the burden of false responsibility or control. We are free. 

Doesn’t the relief feel incredible? 

Goal Attainment on Our Own Terms

I watched an interesting Ted Talk today by Derek Sivers. He shares that research shows that when we tell others about our goals the positive reinforcement and encouragement we receive from others tricks our minds into believing that the task is already complete. That surge of endorphins from hearing a friend’s encouragement leads us to feel as if our work is almost done and therefore to a decline in encouragement to proceed We have already reached our goal and therefore we do not take the necessary small steps required to assure its final accomplishment. I also read an excerpt on the Butterfly effect and how seemingly small occurrences in chaos theory account for incredible shifts in weather, environment, goal attainment. 

This has me thinking about my own goals and what I personally have been delaying. What tasks am I feeling confident about having done when in reality I have barely begun the process? One is a potential opportunity of publishing two books. When I was originally offered the opportunity to submit my work to be considered for publication I immediately shared the news with my family – I was just so excited! And being previously unaware of this research I shared far and wide this wonderful progress I was making toward my goals. Now as I reflect upon it I realize, I shared the news, felt the joy, and celebrated as if the offer were the end and not the beginning of a new journey. And since then I have procrastinated. I have submitted one document but not followed up on it. I have not even finished the revisions required to submit my second piece – these are not steps taken if one is serious about the accomplishment of their goals. 

I can see in my own life that the research holds – sharing the goals, I tricked my brain into thinking these steps were already complete when in all honesty they had only just begun. And again I’m sharing it not with you as a celebration but as a warning, if there is some goal you are holding in your heart, hold it a little closer to your chest and see if perhaps that illusion of having more work to do rather than the brief fulfillment of feeling celebrated and affirmed, doesn’t help you to make real progress toward your goal.

The lesson being, from my perspective, that every goal and dream you hold in your heart you were put here to attain. It was placed in your heart and soul for a reason, there is something you were meant to do with it. So don’t short change yourself, don’t get in your own way, keep you focus on your work and not on the accolades. Be attentive to your next step, your next goal. Instead of seeing the mountaintop far away and stopping long before you get there, take one next step, it’s the only way to move forward. While the steps are small, many small steps can lead to great progress. These little accomplishments build toward something great – a butterfly effect of accomplishment, goal attainment, and personal satisfaction. 

In the end it is personal pride and satisfaction we are after. Pride in one’s work, pride in the progress we have made. These are things we can celebrate and be proud of ourselves for and that is the accomplishment we celebrate. Our goals should not be for external validation, prizes, accolades. For while those things feel nice they are external validation and if we aren’t truly proud of ourselves, or of our work, or of how we got to wherever it is we are going – we are the ones who will know. We are the ones who will have to live with whatever corners have been cut or small indiscretions made in order to attain that applause. Therefore the work is the prize.

The real celebration will not be on a stage, the striving is the goal, the path and the journey we take is its own reward. Our accomplishments are not about trophies, which as Simone Biles will tell you, “is a silly goal.” Our goal should always be to show up as our best. To do our personal best and to keep striving to improve. Because in the end you cannot control if someone else is faster, stronger, smarter, etc. but you can control how often you practice, what you put in to your practice, and how you show up each day. Success is incremental and when we look inside ourselves we find what is truly important – personal satisfaction and pride in the work that we are doing and that feels far better than any prize. Don’t you agree?