How to Let Go When You Come from a Tough Background
Have trouble letting go? You aren’t the only one. Today I will discuss ways of letting go of things in your life that no longer work for you.
Leave the Luggage, Take the Lessons
Recently, I recorded a podcast with Joe Polish and Dean Jackson. They have a popular podcast called I Love Marketing. We were discussing the topic of letting go, or deleting, things from your life or your business. I feel it is extremely important to remove things from your life that have stopped working for you.
Personally, I am okay with deleting bad stuff from my life. I don’t have a lot of physical stuff. I don’t work with a lot of people I don’t like. I don’t have friends I don’t like. When things aren’t working for me, I can say goodbye. For some people, however, it is not that easy.
In the last few months, I have done a lot of work with entrepreneurs, and I noticed that they typically fall into two categories: those who easily let go and those who do not. The difference seems to stem from their background. Those who come from a tough background have a tough time letting go, especially when there are things that may have worked for them in the past. Often, these people end up stuck in a good life, rather than a great life, because they have become attached to the stuff that got them from bad to good.
Sometimes, though, things that worked in the past, may no longer be working for you. It is important to realize that the things that took you from bad to good may not be what you need to take you from good to great.
Making Changes One Step at a Time
One entrepreneur I have been working with came to Holland from Bosnia. Despite her tough background, she is an amazing woman, with a lovely soul. She is always laughing—always appears happy.
She escaped Bosnia 15 years ago with her son and daughter, her husband, and her mother. They started a life in Holland with literally nothing. She started her own business buying and selling different types of piercings. She then moved on to start a store in Amsterdam, which, I believe, is the biggest tattoo and piercing store in Holland.
I visited the tattoo and piercing store and what I saw initially looked pretty good. Then, she showed me all the rooms that were not customer areas. Thank God the customers will never go there, because these rooms were a mess. She had been hoarding stuff for her web store—about 20,000 piercings–but her web store only received about one order every three days. People were not ordering her products. She definitely needed to get started on cleanup.
Here I see this amazing woman, who had worked her ass off for 15 years. She worked like crazy, but obviously, something was not working for her. By visiting her store and doing a checkup, I saw that her hoarding was a serious problem, along with a few other areas.
She made a commitment to have me coach her for one year, and I realized that one of her biggest challenges was going to be letting go.
She told me that she used to sleep ten hours a night, which is a lot, but for years now, she had only been sleeping about four hours a night. She now has zero energy and a lot of stress. The first step was for her to start sleeping again. We had to start deleting things from her life that were not working, and her habit of not sleeping definitely had to go.
Her story is a long and interesting one and someday I would like to spend a whole episode sharing it with you, but for now, let me just summarize by saying we deleted certain, small things from her life in order for her to sleep more. In about five or six weeks, she went from four hours to eight hours of sleep. She lost about 10 kilos (20 lbs.). As a result, she felt better.
We also cleaned up her web store by removing about 10,000 products, and soon her orders increased from one every three days to four per day; so, by deleting products, her sales increased by 10 times.
We continued to remove things, one every six weeks. At first, it was tough for her, but she had made a commitment to me and was determined to take it seriously.
The last week, I noticed, she had a breakthrough. She came to my office with a list of around 400 domain names she had been collecting, most of which were rubbish. That is 400 times 15€, about 6,000€ a year, just thrown away. That is 500€ that could be added to her bank account each month. She asked me if she could delete them.
“Hmmm, interesting. You approached me to delete stuff. Normally, I have to coach you in deleting stuff.”
She told me that she had gone through her office and thrown away 40 kilos (80 lbs.) of stuff. Then, she asked me if she should delete thousands of piercings that never sell because they are old or out of style.
“Should I delete them? Should I just throw them away?”
I was amazed at the difference in her.
She changed so much in the few months that I worked with her. Just by adding some small stuff and by deleting stuff, her life improved. She lost a lot of weight, her profits are going through the roof now, and she is approached by a lot of cool offers, TV and radio. She has more space in her life–more mental space.
“She now sees the benefits of removing everything around her that is not working well.”
From Bad to Good, From Good to Great
Another coaching client of mine, who is a great guy and a successful entrepreneur, had also overcome some hard times. He was an addict until about ten years ago. He used to sleep under the central station in Amsterdam; it was as if he was emotionally dead.
Over time, his life had gone from bad to good as well, but he continued to allow his past to effect his business decisions.
“Yeah, man, I have like 16 products in my head, and I want to create all these products…” and blah-blah-blah.
“What if,” I asked him, “rather than creating new products, you focus on scaling your business — growing your customer list?”
His business is successful, but not crazy successful because he has basically spent the last ten years working really hard creating products. That has created a better lifestyle for him, but his mistake is in hanging on to the ideas that took him from bad to good.
Those ideas got him where he is today and it is tough for him to let go of things that have previously worked. Maybe he hangs on to them because he does not want to go back to the life he had before them — being a junkie.
Small Changes, Big Results
Using what I have learned from coaching these two entrepreneurs, as well as others, my suggestion is this: start small. Remove one small thing every four to six weeks. I call these “sprints”. If you have ten things you want to remove, it may be too overwhelming to let go of them at one time, and you may end up removing zero.
“By removing one small thing at a time, it is much easier to handle. Once that thing is taken care of, you move on to the next.”
After a few “sprints” of deleting things one at a time, you may feel like my Bosnian client did—able to breathe again. She found that by removing small stuff, she felt better and made more money. By committing to remove one little thing at a time you will find that it gets easier and eventually becomes a habit. You will find yourself proactively deleting things you no longer need in your life — and that is amazing!
If you enjoyed this article, please let me know by leaving a comment below or send me a Tweet @EelcoDeBoer.