How to Let Go of the Things Holding You Back

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If you’re going on a long journey, is it better to overload yourself with belongings? If you’re going to change your life by becoming a solopreneur then you need to travel light and you might need to spend some time thinking about what’s holding you back.

Sometimes “letting go” gets thrown around like a catch-all solution to your problems, but there’s a good reason for this: it works.

You only have so much “currency” to act in a day, and the more you attempt to do, the more likely you are to overwhelm yourself with meaningless action that takes you nowhere.

When it comes to letting go of trouble causers you have a lot of options, some external and some internal, including:

  • Relationships
  • Hobbies
  • Beliefs
  • Actions
  • Habits

The Power of Radical Reductions

To do one thing well, you must have the mental bandwidth to give it your best effort.

Warren Buffet famously said, “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

One rule of success is to pick something and get good at it. This means saying no to other opportunities that present themselves.

Warren Buffet said no to countless opportunities to make investments work for him – he dedicated his life to investing since the age of ten and is currently the 7th richest man in the world, worth an astonishing $126.4 Billion.

You have finite resources, whether energy or time, and if you try and take on a million different projects at once you won’t have the energy to succeed or the time to compound your gains.

So, if you want to upgrade your life the first thing to focus on is eliminating what isn’t working.

An Action Plan For Letting Go

Getting rid of what’s vexing your chances of success benefits from an organized action plan. So, we’ve prepared some steps and tips to help you on the way.

Thankfully, it’s a straightforward process where you commit to what you want and analyze what gets you closer to where you want to be and what doesn’t.

Step 1: Identify What You Should Subtract

The first item in your action plan is to see what can be cut from your daily routine. What actions or behaviors do you engage in that conflict with your goals or stop you from doing what needs to be done?

This could be things like:

  • Watching too much TV after work.
  • Playing video games non-stop.
  • Excessive “digital noise” like doom scrolling or mindlessly watching YouTube shorts.
  • Excessive drinking with friends.
  • Activities that eat away at your time and energy.
  • Friendships that make you feel consistently negative about yourself.
  • Anger or jealousy towards people who have no direct impact on your life.
  • Negative self-talk or perspectives that cause you to create limiting beliefs.

Pick one of these (or any other item that you can think of) and try and dump it from your life. It’s very important that you only choose one thing at a time or else you risk being overwhelmed or making compromised decisions.

As you make decisions throughout the day, you’ll eventually become worn down and start to look for shortcuts. Here is a video about the nine strategies you can use to counteract the impact of decision fatigue and also ego depletion:

Step 2: If You’re Not Sure What to Subtract – Ask Questions

The examples above may not have resonated with you much or perhaps you’re unsure about dropping something. In this scenario, it’s time to start asking a few questions.

Questions like this:

  • Does this person or activity add anything to my life?
  • Does this activity conflict with my most important goals?
  • Will eliminating this activity from my life be a net positive or net negative?

Let’s take an example from above: Drinking with friends.

You might be somebody who has a couple of beers every weekend with your friends and feel this doesn’t overly impact your life. On the other hand, you might be somebody who is binge drinking every Friday or Saturday, and noticing it’s hugely affecting your life and overall performance.

If you had the goal of getting fit or losing weight you are unlikely to make any progress whatsoever if you’re consuming large amounts of alcohol every weekend.

Or maybe those couple of beers every weekend are starting to have noticeable effects on your health?

An honest evaluation of how you spend your time can pay massive dividends later on.

Step 3: Keep Track of Your Week With a Journal

Another excellent way of figuring out your bugbears is to detail the time you spend on various activities each week.

How does this activity make you feel? How productive were you? It can be illuminating to look at past weeks and see how much better you did (or didn’t) based on how much time you spent on a certain activity.

This can be an excellent way of catching negative thinking that is holding you back.

If you start to see a common theme in your journals that points towards a certain activity causing you a disproportionate amount of negativity or drag, it’s time to think about cutting it out.

You can also leverage technology and use apps like RescueTime to help you with this process.

Step 4: Replace a Negative With a Positive

Sometimes we default to negative habits or behaviors simply because we’re bored, anxious, or stressed. It can sometimes feel better to have a negative routine than no routine at all. One way to “eliminate” a negative is to do a subtle switch-up.

For example, instead of watching TV:

  • Practice self-education – Ask yourself if there’s anything you badly want to learn about. It can take as little as 20 hours of focused practice to become competent in any skill according to Josh Kaufman.
  • Instead of spending 2 hours watching TV, exercise for 15 minutes and then watch TV for 1 hour and 45 minutes.
  • Plan a project for yourself, or plan a day out for you and your partner, spouse, or family.
  • Spend time networking and building connections with people who might be able to help you succeed – this can be online or in person.

If an activity is there just to fill time (like watching TV) simply cutting it out without replacing it with anything might make things harder on you than it needs to be.

Step 5: Subtract From Your Life (A Little Bit Every Day)

When you’ve decided what you want to get rid of and what you want to replace it with, you can practice something called the Kaizen principle.

In a nutshell, this means making small positive changes each day instead of trying to completely reinvent your life all at once.

For example:

  • Think of TV shows that you watch and stop watching the ones you watch just for the sake of watching (you know which ones they are).
  • Phasing out one negative relationship a little bit at a time.
  • Putting your phone away from where you work for a few hours to avoid doomscrolling.
  • Instead of ruminating or rehashing negative scenarios in your mind, spend 5 minutes being mindful of your breath.

Benefits of Radical Reductions

Letting go of what’s holding you back comes with the obvious benefit of letting you put your time and energy into what matters most to achieving your goals.

However, there are some potent benefits to be had for implementing this into your life right now:

  • It improves your mental health: Dumping a source of negativity makes you feel less anxious, less depressed, and it makes you view challenges with a more can-do attitude.
  • It increases willpower: Taking the time to give up things that are part of your routine (even a little bit every day) will increase your mojo and “oomph” because each time you do this it’s like lifting a dumbbell for your inner strength and power.
  • It sets your personal growth on fire: Remember when we talked earlier about compounding? Doing lots of little positive changes while dumping the things that are holding you back adds up a lot by the time a year has gone by.

Final Thoughts on Letting Go of What’s Holding You Back

Whether you’re starting a business as a solopreneur, or you’re trying to get more out of your life, letting go is the first step towards gathering the strength to push forward.

Here’s a summary of everything we talked about:

  • Having one thing that you focus on, get good at, or continuously refine, is the key to massive success – but this requires letting go of the drag in your life.
  • Letting go of negative behaviors, patterns of thinking, and activities that don’t get you closer to your goals is key to being successful.
  • To figure out what to cut out you need to think about what in your life is having a disproportionately negative effect on your life for the time invested.
  • If you don’t know what that is, try asking questions and/or journaling.
  • To make it easy, replace something negative with something positive (like reading instead of watching TV) and use the Kaizen principle to make small positive changes every day.
  • Enjoy the benefits!

If you want to learn more about letting go and similar concepts, then be sure to read these articles:

let go | overcome obstacles mindset | free yourself from hindrances