Are you over-managing your life?
“Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on.” ―Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose
A few years ago I got really tired of juggling and always trying to anticipate/manage the endless details of my life, family and business. I knew there had to be another way so I decided to explore this theme via a telecourse with other men and women who also wanted to live more “in the flow of life.”
Through this journey, I unearthed my deepest desire: to feel more trusting, free and relaxed. And to hone the ability to just…let …go.
So that’s what I did. And over the past four years how I live, work and play changed pretty radically. Yes, I’m still achievement-oriented, and at times this serves me well. But I stopped trying to control everything (one of the top 3 causes of stress) and started going with the flowmore of the time. This past year I wrote out fewer to-do lists than I ever have, did very little strategic planning, I only took on work projects that brought me joy, practiced a deeper level of self-care—and so far, I’ve had my most successful year in business ever.
How is this possible? Through living more in the present and deepening my self-care practice. I set daily intentions (so I could channel my energy more effectively), released expectations, practiced “good is good enough,” was more vulnerable and willing to ask for help, I stopped forcing outcomes and ultimately, my desire to feel peaceful eclipsed my need to control. As a result, I found my flow and life became more enjoyable, spacious and easy.
One time I was leading a work-life balance workshop for a group of very successful female attorneys at a retreat center in Arizona. One of the women jumped up in the middle of the session saying, “Ah-ha! I now I realize why I’m always so stressed-out: I over-manage my life!” The woman, who also organized events for her law firm, was used to creating plans A, B, C and continually anticipating every conceivable course of action her clients, kids and business might take. As a result she was always living in the future or the past, but she was rarely in the present moment. Her habit of hyper-managing every detail of her personal and professional life was exhausting her. She thought by being so on top of everything she was alleviating stress but she was actually causing more of it (and often creating extra work for those around her). She’s shared with me many times over that this insight changed her life.
Letting go and managing and controlling less can mean opening up to more joy and spontaneity in your life. If you’re willing to trust, step off the cliff and surrender. Actor Larry Eisenberg says,”For peace of mind, we have to resign as general manager of the Universe.” I’ve turned in my resignation–are you ready to hand in yours?