On letting go...

For many of us, the seasonal break provides not only a much-needed opportunity for rest and a break from our everyday routines but also an opportunity for reflection, as we look to reset our lives in preparation for the year ahead.

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As you take stock of the year that’s about to end and start to think about what the year ahead might hold for you, the changes you’d like to make and things you’d like to see happen in 2024, I’d like to invite you to think also about what you might need to let go of, to help you realise your vision.

From assumptions and beliefs about who you are, what you’re capable of, what you should be doing with your life, or how you should be living it, to relationships, to physical possessions – I strongly suspect that most of us have things we’re holding onto through habit, conditioned ways of being or thinking, or because we see them as a source of security! However, holding on to these things may not be helping us move forward in our lives, or bring about change.

Letting go of things we’ve been holding on to, that are no longer serving us, is a key part of the change process. This starts with acknowledging what is, so we can start to identify what it is we may need to look at letting go of.

Here are just a few examples of things we may need to look at letting go of in relation to our work:

  • The need to stay silent, rather than acknowledge our needs, particularly where these are perceived as carrying with them a sense of weakness or vulnerability (e.g. the need for help from others or acknowledging that there’s an aspect of our work that we’re struggling with).
  • The need to compare ourselves (the nature of our work, job title, pay grade, career trajectory, status etc) to others, as a measure of self-worth.
  • Unrealistic expectations we’ve either created for ourselves or allowed others to impose on us around what we should have achieved by this stage in our career.
  • The need for control over a particular situation or people at work.
  • The need to work excessive hours, to the detriment of our work-life balance/health and well-being.
  • The expectation that we should always be seen to ‘feel fine’ at work and not admit that there may be other factors outside of work that we’re finding challenging, and which may be contributing to us not enjoying, or feeling stressed and overwhelmed at work.
  • The need to engage in unhelpful behaviours or coping strategies to deal with work-related stress.
  • An outdated career identity or value system we’ve been doggedly holding onto – or a set of beliefs about what we’re capable of or assumptions about what we ‘should’ be doing at this point in our working lives.
  • The belief that, due to lifestyle constraints, we’re stuck doing work we’re no longer enjoying and that making a career change, particularly in later life, is ‘impossible’.

Whilst it may be relatively easy to identify and act on ‘quick win’ behavioural or habit changes, particularly when we can see a clear benefit, identifying and releasing more deeply held beliefs and assumptions that may have been with us for many years is likely to prove much more challenging – both in terms of identifying what it is that’s no longer serving us and reaching a state of acceptance of the need for change, before embarking on the change process itself.  

Whilst old, familiar ways of being may not be helpful to us, it can be tempting to stick with them as their familiarity provides a source of comfort and security. However, this can serve to inhibit the change process - our worlds become small, we stick with what we know and in so doing we become more limited in our thinking and less open to growth, more fearful of change, and less willing to let go of things that are n longer serving us.

Often the act of letting go can be challenging, particularly for something significant like your career identity, creating a sense of loss, or exposing vulnerabilities or weaknesses that may give rise to difficult emotions such as shame, grief, guilt, resentment, or anger. This is where it can be helpful to work with a coach or other professional, to support you through the process.

Whilst most people associate letting go with the sense of an ending, through the act of letting go, we can actually create the space we need for a new beginning. Letting go of something we’ve been holding onto allows us to feel freer, lighter and creates the space for growth and something new to come into our lives, which can be both liberating and cathartic.

If you’d like some support to help you discover what it is you might need to let go of, or to support you through the process of letting go and finding, evaluating, and adopting new more supportive beliefs and behaviours in relation to your work in 2024, or to support you through a career change, please get in touch – I’d be very happy to help you.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Melksham, Wiltshire, SN12
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Written by Anne Melbourne, Work-focused change coach
Melksham, Wiltshire, SN12

Anne Melbourne is a transformational coach specialising in work-focused change, who's on a mission to help mid-lifers thrive at work! Her coaching uses a holistic approach to support mid-lifers in re-imagining the work they're doing, or the way they're working, to make it more meaningful, sustainable, and supportive of their long-term wellbeing.

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