Let It Go
Okay… I’ll admit that I sometimes like to open with bold statements. In this case, I said what I did because I used to entertain dreams of becoming a full-time novelist. I pursued the dream almost from the time I entered high school, and I did so with great passion and enthusiasm. Unfortunately, the dream always seemed to elude me, and I never understood why until a year ago, when I started down the path I’m on now.
So why was my dream so elusive? To put it bluntly, I was standing in my own way. What happened was that I had become fixated in the idea of becoming a novelist, rather than allowing myself to be a writer. Why was I so insistent on the novelist path? Well… I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I had fallen victim to the romanticized image our culture has of novelists sitting on a beach or in a remote mountain cabin, doing their thing without a care in the world. It was an image I clung to because it was the one thing I could imagine outside of my self-created hell in the corporate world.
That image also gave me heartburn, headaches, and a variety of other emotional disorders.
I always loved writing, but the stress of using my writing as my ticket to “freedom” made it less than enjoyable, and pretty soon I dreaded sitting down to work on my stories. Writing was supposed to be fun! And yet… it wasn’t. Hadn’t I heard that when you do something you love, you never work another day in your life? If that was true, why did writing feel like such a chore?
I finally broke free from the cycle of hope and dread when I listened to two different audio books. The first book was Deepak Chopra’s The 7 Spiritual Laws of Success. One of the laws Dr. Chopra talked about was the Law of Detachment, which basically states that you can have a dream or a goal, but it’s best not to get attached to the means of achieving it. As Dr. Chopra describes it, when we map out every step to reaching a goal, it’s easy to get rigidly attached to those steps, which then blinds us to the innumerable other (and often faster) paths that will help us achieve the same goal.
The idea made sense, but it didn’t click until I listened to Mike Dooley’s audio book, Infinite Possibilities: The Art of Living Your Dreams. Mike referred to the Law of Detachment as well, but the way he described it was getting attached to “cursed how’s.” What’s a cursed how? It’s an insistence on following one particular path to get to where you want to go to the exclusion of everything else. And to really drive the point home, Mike used the example of having to write that novel as one’s ticket to living the good life.
Wow. What a slap in the face… but in a good way. I realized that I had become rigidly attached to becoming a novelist, and that I had turned the idea into my cursed how. So what did it take to break free from the cycle?
I started by changing the way I spoke of my dream. Rather than saying that I wanted to become a full-time novelist, I said that I wanted to write full time. That shift alone was huge for me, because it removed the pressure of writing that best-selling novel, and it opened the door to all sorts of opportunities I never would have considered before. As the title of Mike Dooley’s book says, I started looking at the Infinite Possibilities of getting to my desired end result.
I then took another piece of advice from Mike, which was to follow my intuition and do anything I could think of that moved me in the general direction of where I wanted to go. The path didn’t matter. What mattered was that I was clear on my destination, and that I consistently did something every day to move me in that general direction. I keep emphasizing the word “general” because flexibility is key to getting where we want to go.
One thing I discovered when I started listening to my intuition was that I took huge leaps to making my dream come true when I did things that were fun. In other words, if I felt prompted to do something because it seemed like fun at the time, I did it. Not only did I enjoy myself, but I often met new people and made new discoveries that led me to the next fun thing, which started building momentum in the direction I wanted to go.
Before I realized it, I was a full-time writer.
I’m also a speaker, a trainer, a happiness coach, a presentation designer, and who knows how many other hats I’ll end up wearing? Oh yeah… I’m a helluva lot happier, too. The point is, when I let go of my cursed how and I followed the fun, I wound up where I wanted to be all along. What I was unable to accomplish in 30 years took only one year once I opened myself up to any possibility.
If I were to draw a map of how many detours, twists and turns I took in the past year, it would look like a two-year-old’s first drawing; a bunch of scribbles on a page. What I thought was a “messterpiece” was in fact, a masterpiece of navigation. And for the record, I don’t regret any of the decisions I made in the 30 previous years. If anything, I’m grateful for the experiences I had, because they prepared me for what I do now. I actually am an expert on a variety of subjects because I got to live them first-hand.
So what paths are you rigidly attached to? What cursed how’s are you clinging to that are keeping you from seeing the infinite FUN paths you can take to get you where you want to go? How will you know if you’ve arrived if you’re holding a blindfold over your eyes? Are you willing to let go of your well-laid plans and trust that if you follow the fun, you’ll get there faster than if you follow your checklist of “must do’s?”
If you have a cursed how, let it go, my friends. You’ll discover that the rewards are far greater than anything you could have imagined for yourselves.
About the Author
Appio Hunter is an author, speaker, spiritual guide, and self-described champion for living joyously. He uses his seminars and workshops to facilitate conversations about authenticity, alignment, and the daily experience of community, connection, and joy. Appio is also a weekly columnist with The Good Men Project and co-host of the Real Men Feel Show along with his good friend Andy Grant.