When Holding On Holds Us Back: A Little Tale of Letting Go
Earlier this summer, I had to make a really hard decision. I decided to let go of my Happy With Baby office space.
I stewed over this idea for so long. It consumed my thoughts for a long time. It might seem silly, but for me, it was really emotional. I loved my office. It was a result of a lot of hard work in building my business first. I wasn’t always in this office space. I had a few different office spaces before this one and upgraded gradually over time. You know, if you do it right, you start small, then grow into the next big thing. That’s how it was for me when I finally secured my ideal space.
It might seem silly, but for me, it was really emotional.
Once I finally made it mine, it was so satisfying. I decorated it in soothing colors and comfy furniture. It got great light. It just felt good. It was big enough that I could host small groups there (back when meeting in person was still a thing), and yet not so big that it couldn’t feel intimate for one-on-one and couples work. I loved that I had a place that was apart from my home, that I could more easily separate my work life from my home life. I even liked the commute.
I also loved how calling it mine made me feel. I felt legitimate as a business owner. Like I had made it. Like my business was successful and real. I had arrived.
My practice was located in that office for eight years. And then COVID hit.
We therapists all adjusted to meet the moment, myself included. I began running my therapy sessions from my home office over Zoom. At first, I offered the option to accommodate six feet of social distancing within my office (See? A perfectly spacious space!), but once a shelter-in-place order went into effect, I dropped that option and worked solely out of my home.
As we all know, what we thought was a temporary blip gradually became our new normal. This is life as we know it for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, I was still making those monthly rent payments on my office space. For a while, writing that check felt hopeful, like one day I’d be back. But, it wasn’t long before it became clear that I wasn’t going to be back working out of that office any time soon.
Why was I holding onto this when it didn’t fit into my life anymore?
So, I made a choice. I cancelled my lease.
I felt something akin to grief over it for a while. Would my business fail? Would I fail? Was this the wrong decision? Someday, when we could get back out there and safely be in close proximity again, would I regret not having this space reserved for me? Would it be harder to find a new place when the time came? Would I love that new space less?
But I realized something. Even though this decision did feel a bit like a setback, these worries were keeping me from moving forward.
Everything in front of me is showing me that my business is not failing. In fact, I’m as busy as ever helping the women and couples I love working with. And, this new way of working--being at home in closer proximity to my kids, being able to fit things in new ways that would never have worked before--I have been able to test out and improve new ways of working with women (like my Calm By Design course and collective) that are proving to be profound and positive. Things that I’ve always said I wanted to do, but it was just never the right time or I couldn’t figure out how to make it fit, suddenly now feels like the right time to try these new things. On top of that, I’ve made my final revisions to my book that will be launching soon and we are in the final stages of the cover design process.
Things are beginning to take shape in ways I just couldn’t have predicted.
And that’s when I realized that holding onto my office space was holding me back. If you’re a small business owner, you know that like us, business is always evolving. And by holding onto the idea of needing that office space, I was preventing myself from seeing what was in front of me, of thinking outside the box, of moving forward.
So, I let it go. (Permission to sing that like Disney’s Elsa to your heart’s content. I’m singing it now myself.)
Maybe you’ve heard the slingshot analogy before: Sometimes you have to pull back before you can spring forward to that thing you’re aiming for.
Now, why am I telling you this?
I’ll tell you one thing: It’s not because I think you care about my business choices behind the scenes. I’m telling you this because I know we all have something to let go of right now. Because everything feels so emotionally loaded right now. Because no choice feels easy right now and there’s so much outside of our control.
COVID has shut down life as we once knew it, but mommas are still having babies during this time. Postpartum mood disorders don’t just step aside because it’s COVID’s turn. And I’m sure your crying baby didn’t get the memo that you don’t have that extra help you were banking on before the pandemic hit.
Relationships don’t get easier just because everyone is suddenly home more. In fact, I think even if you have the healthiest relationship with your partner, it’s still challenging. How is it possible to be around your partner 24/7 and miss them at the same time? Oh, I bet a lot of you know.
Schools are starting back up now too. Regardless of whether your child’s school has chosen an in-person, hybrid or distance model, (or homeschool or holding your child back a year) I’m guessing that none of those choices are what you had imagined for your child.
Visits with the grandparents, sports, summer travel plans, so many things.
So, I just want to gently ask you:
What could be possible for you if you let go of what you’re holding onto?
Asking this question may not make the hard parts go away (Hint: It won’t.), but it might give you a wider view and room for hope.
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