The New Year is my favorite time of year. As a goal-oriented person, I love when the rest of the world starts to talk about resolutions and upcoming ambitious goals for the new year. For me, it truly is the most wonderful time of the year.
Plus, my soft rock station has finally stopped playing Christmas songs non-stop and once again is playing cheesy love songs at night that I don’t like to admit I listen to but I do.
Anyway, it’s easy to overlook one vital step to making sure you are setting yourself up for success in the new year. And that one step is to be deliberate about letting go of the elements of your life (both career and personal) that are no longer serving you. By doing so, you’re making room in your life for the new, wonderful things headed your way.
Think about it this way: You go to the grocery store with exactly $20 to buy ice cream and comfort food that you plan on eating while listening to your favorite soft rock station play cheesy love songs that night. As you’re leaving, you see a giant bag of chocolate covered pretzels you just have to get. But they’ll put you over your budget. You don’t have the means by which to buy everything in your cart and get those delicious chocolate covered pretzels you know will dip perfectly into your Cherry Garcia ice cream. What do you do?
You have to let go of something you thought you previously wanted to make room for what you now see you truly need.
So here are three things you can let go of this year that will help make room for a better you.
1. Let go of the clothes you don’t wear
Go through your closet and be brutally honest about the items you do and don’t use anymore. Most people have a tendency to keep certain items on the off-chance we might someday need it. If you didn’t wear it last year, you probably won’t wear it this year. And if you give it away and turns out you need it or something like it… just buy a new one. That’s the beauty of the modern world. We’re never at a loss for easily getting new stuff.
Believe me, closet cleaning is much more transformative than it seems. I went through a strange emotional journey with every item I gave away. I remembered the last time I wore it, when I got it, and where I was in my life. While it was hard to let some of the stuff go, I told myself that it served its purpose in my life. Because I no longer use it, let it go to somebody who will. The memories I have in it aren’t lessened by the fact that there’s no longer a physical token around to remind me.
And do yourself a favor by getting rid of those clothes that don’t fit you anymore but you’re keeping around for the day you lose those extra 15 lbs and fit into them again. Hear me out- I believe in you. I want you to reach whatever goal you want to reach. If you want to lose 15 lbs (and you’ll remain healthy and happy in the process), by all means do it. And when you do, take yourself on a little shopping spree for new clothes as a reward.
Personally, I’ve found that keeping around clothes that no longer fit makes me feel inadequate about my present body. There are better ways of visualizing yourself into diet or fitness goals than wishing you could fit into your favorite pair of pants from high school again. Keep only the items that make you feel like the radiant, beautiful, wonderful person you are in this moment. That way you can feel like the radiant, beautiful, wonderful person you presently are every day.
2. Let go of relationships that no longer serve you
This is a difficult one- especially in a world obsessed with “staying in touch” through social media. And while I love making new friends and keeping in touch with lots of people all over the world, I think it’s important to protect your own happiness and be honest with yourself about the people you choose to spend your time with.
You should surround yourself with people who inspire and excite you. You should surround yourself with people who support and adore you. You should surround yourself with people who challenge and are honest with you. You should surround yourself with people who get you- those who you don’t have to constantly explain yourself to. And you should surround yourself with people who you want to do all the above for as well.
If someone in your life is becoming an energy drain, a source of constant frustration, or making you question decisions in your own life that make you happy… say goodbye. You don’t have to be reality-tv-throw-drink-in-your-face dramatic about it. Just be honest with yourself.
If you feel you owe the person an explanation, tell them how you feel. And then let it go. If you find you’re always falling into the same infuriating patterns with someone, walk away from it. And then let it go.
If you find yourself spending time with someone out of obligation rather than desire, listen to your gut. And then let it go.
Accept that people come into our lives sometimes just for a season. With all the ways we can stay in touch with people now, we tend to forget that. It’s ok to change and let someone change. It’s ok to not need someone anymore. It’s ok to realize you’ve grown apart. It’s ok to move on and let others do the same.
3. Let go of thinking you’re not successful
If you know what you love to do and are taking steps every day to do it, you are successful. Too often (especially in the creative world), it’s easy to get stuck in the daily grind that we forget everything we’ve accomplished up to this point. We wait for some arbitrary outside affirmation that we’re “good” or “successful.” But waiting for outside affirmations of our own success is as dangerous as wanting happiness to come to us from outside ourselves. The only way to guarantee either success or happiness is from the inside out.
I looked over my own accomplishments last year. I’m great about taking notes on what I’m doing, but terrible about looking them over. When I actually took the time to look it over, I realized I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing. Sure, I still pay bills through a job outside of creativity for the moment, but that doesn’t define my success.
Success is telling yourself you have to start doing stand up comedy at the beginning of the year and making a packed house at The Comedy Store laugh by the end of the year. Success is turning a goofy idea you’ve had forever into a 250+ page novel that you can give a draft of to your loved ones over the holidays. Success is going from an idea to do a web series over lunch with a friend to writing it, getting a team together, and raising thousands of dollars to produce it.
We are exactly what we say we are. If you don’t believe you’re successful, you’re not. If you believe you’re wildly successful, you are. We create whatever realities we perceive around us, so be proactive about your perceptions so you can create positive realities that help your light shine for others.
And if you need any help shining that light, I highly suggest you listen to cheesy love songs on the radio at night. They certainly do the trick for me.