Time to read: Less than 2 little minutes of your day.
Thanks to Marie Kondo, I've put every item in my house through the "joy-o-meter." When I started this process, I could not have foreseen the depth of the letting go.
This process has taken more courage than I anticipated.
One of the hardest pieces has been saying good-bye to old dreams and accomplishments. That got me thinking of you. Where do you allow old dreams to clog your present and your future?
Here's what I mean.
I have a PhD, and 20 years ago I spent months traveling in India, interviewing women dairy farmers, and learning from them how they work within a system of powerful dairy cooperatives to find their own power. It was an amazing project. Women gave generously of their time and stories, and we formed life-long bonds. When my dissertation was complete, a book publisher asked to meet. At that meeting, I knew I didn't want to publish a book. I didn't want to be an academic.
I walked away.
In times of doubt, I look back wistfully thinking I could have been a leading expert on cooperatives, traveling the world to conferences and interfacing with the luminaries in international development. Maybe I could have been a luminary. In times of self-judgment, I chastise my young self for being stupid and selfish.
A well-organized box of cassettes, transcripts and notes has moved with me from apartments to houses. This stuff pre-dates my children. The box has sat there for 20 years radiating the tiniest ray of hope that maybe, someday, I'll publish that book.
Marie Kondo forced me to be honest with myself. I'm never going to publish that book, and it's time to let it go. Here is what I learned from throwing those cassettes, transcripts and notes into the trash:
- Your old dreams mattered. They mattered then, and they are in you now. You don't need to keep artifacts to take the meaning with you.
- If you haven't written the book, or built the invention, or taught the class, or started the business, you aren't going to. Be honest with yourself. There is no shame in changing your dream and letting the old ones go. In fact, you have to.
- Holding onto an old dream, even subconsciously, is blocking your ability to allow what wants to emerge in your life now.
- When you let it go, honor it. I sent love and prayers to the women who helped me. I read some of my notes to remember the hilarious and challenging moments of that research. I texted my best friend from graduate school who completely understood.
- Own your choice. If you let the dream slide or you consciously walked away, a wise part of you knew it wasn't your path.
- Let the past go and get about the business of allowing what wants to happen in your life now.
I'll be honest. This process is exhausting. My couch has been my best friend. And, I can't wait to feel what's possible in this new future.
P.S. Have a friend who wants to open their future by letting an old dream go? Forward this newsletter to them. They can join here.