10 Tips for Letting Go and Moving Forward

by | May 4, 2021 | Life Lessons

We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. ~ E. M. Forster Click To Tweet

I remember when my son’s dream of playing in the NFL came to an end, he was devastated. He had played football since he was five years old. The investment of time, effort, and money is incalculable. It paid off for him because he received a full scholarship to play football at a Division 1 school, lettered all four years, and was a consistent starter in his position. After attending an NFL rookie minicamp and not getting signed to a contract, my son’s 17 years of playing organized football came to an end. I remember telling him he could pursue it if he wanted, and that he would know when to let go.

When I think back, I am still overcome with respect at how a poised 21-year-old handled such a heart wrenching time. With the same discipline that had served him while playing the game, he willed himself to move on. Now, almost seven years later to the day, he is a young professional and entrepreneur, and a Dad. And he’s happy. 

When you’ve worked hard at something, the last thing you want to do is let go. Letting go is hard. Whether it is a relationship, a dream, a job, or even a part of your identity that needs letting go, it can be painful. Letting go feels like failing. But not to let go is to keep doors closed that are meant to open for your next level of growth.

Some of us think holding on makes us strong but sometimes it is letting go.
~ Herman Hesse

Here are 10 tips for letting go that will keep you moving forward: 

  1. Identify what you gained from the experience. Extracting the good from a painful experience reminds you that everything serves a purpose and is preparation for your continued growth.
  2. Talk it out. It helps to talk about your feelings with a supportive family member or friend that you trust. Seek professional help if you continue to struggle.
  3. Make a list of your accomplishments and add to it daily. The list will boost your self-esteem, which is essential in restoring a sense of happiness and wellbeing.
  4. Stay in the present. Ruminating on what “should have” happened keeps you stuck in the past. Practicing mindfulness allows you to focus on the here and now and use your energy to gain forward momentum.
  5. Ceremonially let go. On post-it notes, write down what you’re letting go (the situation, feelings, negative thoughts, and beliefs). Read each one aloud, saying, “I let go of ______.” Place the notes in a fire-proof container and burn them.
  6. Express your emotions. Your feelings are valid. Allowing yourself to express negative emotions releases stress from your body.
  7. Focus on what you can control. When you focus on what’s within your control you increase your self-efficacy, which enhances wellbeing.
  8. Separate what happened from your self-worth. Your self-worth is intrinsic, unchanging, and immeasurable. You are worthy because you exist. No situation defines who you are.
  9. Define what it means to finish. If you are prone to “finish what you start,” remember finish means to bring a task to an end – terminate your effort. It does not guarantee outcome. If you’ve given your best effort, you can finish and let go.
  10. Create a vision for your life. Envision a future in which you are living your best life. Set goals that align with your vision and core values and celebrate small wins.

If you are struggling to let go of something that has run its course or no longer serves you, I empathize with you. Bookmark this article so you can return to it easily and follow these 10 tips whenever you find it difficult to let go. Share it with others you know who may be experiencing a tough time letting go. For more insightful and inspiring articles to support you on your personal development journey, check out my website, Your Aha! Life, and sign up to receive my monthly newsletter and other perks.

Mark your calendars for June 29, 2021, at 7:00 PM EDT. We will be having the second Your Aha! Life Global Community MeetUp. The purpose of the MeetUp is to bring the Aha! Life Global Community together and to connect, learn, and have fun. In June, we’ll be tackling the topics of burnout and wellbeing. Advance registration is required. The registration link will be available later this month. If you’re not a member of the Your Aha! Life Global Community, sign up today.

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