If you keep picking up work, anger and emotions they will weigh you down and slow you down. The term letting go helps you visualise how your actions, thoughts and emotions can follow you around if you don’t let things go.
Let go of work
Leave your work at work, don’t bring it home with you.
The longer you hold on to problems, questions, tasks, tension, deadlines from work, the heavier they become. Burnout is emotional, mental and physical exhaustion caused by excessive stress, work can be common cause. Work won’t stop coming and takes as much time as you give, you can control this by not bring work home with you.
Many jobs are creative and involve collaborating with people, these activities need energy, ideas and interaction with people to build solutions together. Turning requirements into solutions involves questioning to understand whats required, different situations, limitations and the goals of the business. Creative work isn’t a repetitive task that you can do mindlessly, the longer you work the lower the quality of your creativity. Creativity needs bursts of energy, ideas and trying and failing.
Holding onto work is like picking up a small weight, it isn’t tiring in the short term but the longer you hold onto it the heavier it gets, until the weight becomes unbearable. This is recipe for burnout, you keep holding onto work, day after day and you end up never being able to escape.
Don’t let work follow you home, do this is to do something enjoyable with family, friends or a hobby. Break from work by doing something enjoyable you are more interested in and you will naturally forget about work.
Switching off allows you to step back from work, helping you recharge and refresh mentally, emotionally and physically. When you come back to work you can view work from a different perspective and your brain has time to subconsciously think about your problems.
I worked on a busy project and took home with me and did work in the evening. The thing I noticed was there was always more work to do and often doing the work didn’t contribute much. I was super busy and some other people on the project weren’t. I learnt to embrace the saying “if you can delegate, you should delegate”. Not only did this mean less amount of work, allowing me to focus on more valuable work but it gave other people the opportunity to learn new skills and contribute.
Let go of anger
We get slapped in the face by life regularly but don’t hold on to anger, let it go and drop it. Anger creates more anger. Anger bypasses thinking and move to reaction, when you let anger control your actions it’s can lead to doing something you regret later.
- Angry reactions from you, create anger in others, such as
- When you shout at someone, people shout back
- When you hit someone, they hit back
To stop anger growing, label the emotion, ask why someone would act in that way and see the situation from their point of view. Anger is a reaction, to break out of the cycle you need to pause and don’t waste your time and energy getting angry because it isn’t productive.
When dealing with an angry person or a bully, you can use this loss of control to your advantage as discussed here Anger in others is an opportunity not something to be feared.
I have been in many situations where anger in conversations has moved the focus from solving a problem to arguing their point, in the end we never got around to the problem and needed further meetings.
Another example of anger was I used to attend a daily meeting where the organiser would aggressively bully people on the call, some people responded angrily and the call would unproductive and go on longer (not to mention uncomfortable for those attending).
The attendees didn’t waste time getting angry and got through the meeting as quickly and quietly as possible. The organisers angry approach reduced the effectiveness of the meeting and people with holding information and reducing collaboration.
Let go of the past and the future
Spending time in the past or the future comes at the expensive of the present. Not being focused on the present reduces your ability to notice body language, what isn’t being said and the details of whats happening. If you do multiple tasks at once, you end up doing many things badly instead of one thing well.
We can pick up negative comments or actions from people and carry them round with us and like the other things we pick up, they weigh us down and influence future actions.
Chuck Noll an NFL coach who won the Superbowl 4 times gave this example to his team from the this article
“Let me tell you a story about two monks who are on a journey. Some time during their journey they stop at a clearing, and in the clearing is a stream, and they stop at the stream. On the one side of the stream is a fair maiden trying to cross. And the first monk, without any hesitation, crosses that stream, picks up the fair maiden and carries her across and sets her down.
The two monks carry on in silence. Sometime later on their journey they stop at another clearing. The second monk says to the first, ‘You picked up that maiden. Do you know it’s against our beliefs and our religion to come in contact and touch a person of the opposite sex?’ The first says, ‘I set her down back there, but you carried her all the way here.’”
The story shows it’s easy to pick up events, opinions, work, anger, emotions and carry it with you and influence your future actions. We should learn from our mistakes and plan for the future but importantly focus on what’s in front of us, listen to what’s being said and be fully engaged in what we are doing.
Some times our thoughts can do this, captured by this Mark Twain quote
“I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”
- The past has gone and can’t be changed, learn from it and move on
- The future isn’t here yet, plan and focus on the now until it arrives.
- The present is happening now, make it as enjoyable and successful as you can.
You can’t control the world but you can control how you react to it. Don’t allow words and actions of others get you down, leave the problems with them. Nothing positive comes from anger unless you use it as fuel to propel yourself. Conflict doesn’t progress problems it distracts and makes them bigger.
Let go of work when you hours are done, spend time on rewarding activities such as family, friends, hobbies and having fun.