Few motivational speeches will tell you that it is okay to give up. In fact, they will instruct you to do more, be more, achieve more. Giving up or giving in brings to mind failure, so we pursue more. But at what cost?
What if giving up the things that do not serve us — whether physical objects, habits or relationships — allows us to give more to ourselves and be a better friend, parent, coworker or partner?
We live in an uncompromising culture where the image of success is a person who does it all, says yes and leads a busy life. Busyness is as much a status symbol as houses and cars. In media and conversation, we subconsciously learn that busy is cool. Running on coffee, adrenaline, no sleep and achievement epitomizes the main character in any tv drama.
Throughout life, we collect hobbies and friendships, accumulate what becomes a ‘career,’ and before we know it, busy is our reality. Your energy and your money are finite resources. Assessing and redefining how you choose to spend them can be tough, but the rewards are undeniable.
The more driven you are, the harder it is to know when to quit — a relationship, a job, a goal. As soon as we start school, we learn that quitting is not okay so we construct stories in our heads to keep us committed:
relationship: he loves me but just doesn’t know how to show it
job: it’ll get better if I stick with it
goal: I’ve wanted this my whole life
The problem with these narratives is that they prevent us from genuinely reevaluating. Everyone, no matter how happy or miserable, has the right to step back every so often and assess their lives. That is not you being wishy washy, or ungrateful or overly critical. It represents the first step in being aware of the life you are choosing to build.
- First, make a list of your values. Look at how you spend your time each day or each week. What are the top four activities you use that time for? (work, exercise, etc.)
- Look at how you spend your money. Where is it going? Can you give it up?
- Now compare lists 2 and 3 with your list of values. Do they add up?
Why don’t they match? Are there any activities you do that do not align with your values? Or any values that are simply not reflected in your activities? Notice the excuses that come to mind during this process. Take note of them — of the narrative that you have been telling yourself.
Now imagine you did not have a choice. Imagine that donating to charity, for example, was as obligatory as paying your taxes; or that volunteering was as important as going to work; or that taking your yoga classes two times a week was as essential as doing the laundry. How would you make it work? What would you give up?
The answer might be easy — no surfing the web after 7pm — or difficult — fewer evenings at the office or at happy hour with friends. Try it out for a couple of weeks and see what giving up gives you.
Ever find yourself at the dinner table having a “debate” that just isn’t any fun? It is the ego’s stubborn nature to want to prove its point, no matter the cost. Giving in does not mean that you have to let go of your beliefs or adopt those of others. It means that proving your point does not define your worth.
Giving in is about letting go and finding distance between who you are and what you believe. The need to win an argument, make a point or prove someone wrong comes when we confuse the importance of our opinions.
- What battles are you fighting right now or what areas in your life are causing tension/negativity?
- Why do you feel the need to allocate energy to it?
- What are those “battles” or sources of tension giving you in return?
- Where would your energy be better spent?
Give yourself permission to pull out of aggressive conversations or save your opinion for another time. There is a difference between standing up for your ego and standing up for yourself.
Learning to give in is not about letting colleagues walk all over you — it’s about empowering yourself to walk away when a situation or argument does not serve you.
You may find that after all of this giving up and giving in, you will be left with more time, energy and money for worthier causes, like taking care of yourself and others. A healthy, rested you is a better friend, partner and parent.
As you give up what does not fulfill you — shopping sprees, late nights out, whatever it may be and give in to others instead of fighting or resisting, you will find that you connect more. The former secures the time and energy for connection, while the latter lets you be less combative. If you don’t feed the fire, it stops burning, and you may find yourself with new friends.
- Given that our energy, time and money are finite, are you satisfied with how you are spending yours?
- Why not?
- What are you giving to yourself to boost your own wellbeing? Is it enough?
- Do you give to others? What would you need in order to dedicate more time to them?
- How do you feel when you give?
In return, giving brings us meaning and a sense of purpose. The more we give, the more we get.
The main point of all this is simply to remind you that you are the architect of your own life. If you are unhappy with how it looks, you can deconstruct and rebuild at any time. Your job is to build a life that reflects your values.
Anything you are ready to give up? Share them with us by commenting below!
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Omozua is a Certified Emotional Mastery & Intelligent Leadership Executive Neuro Coach who empowers & prepares clients to take the journey from where they are to where they want to be by bravely accessing their own potential.