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If we knew when we were doing something for the last time, we would experience the world very differently.
Not all last times are bad. Halfway through my first marathon, I started reminding myself that I would never have to do this again. A friend in recovery used the image of never waking up in a strange place again as a way to get through bad spots. Most last times are ordinary, like finding out a favorite theater had closed and the building flattened for condos.
Intentional last times can be more difficult; making the choice to stop means taking ownership. It’s an acceptance of where you are, but also an opportunity to re-define the direction. To purge those things that no longer serve your purpose.
Notice that I said your purpose, not any purpose. Toxic people, negative self-talk, sabotaging behaviors—those all serve a purpose; probably not one that is actually benefitting you, or creating the life you want. To figure out which of these truly serve your purpose—and move you toward a goal—takes courage.
Our problem with change is that staying the same feels so much easier.
Whether you are donating old clothes or reprogramming an internal narrative, it’s not always comfortable to let go. Part of this discomfort comes from a connection we create between our things (jobs, social roles, and relationships), and our sense of self.
Ask someone why they won’t get rid of a favorite pair of jeans. Their explanation will be strikingly similar to the reasons they hang on to negative self-talk and behaviors. “I don’t have, or can’t afford, another one.” “I love these! I’ve had them forever!” “They fit me, kind of.”
Do they? Do they really fit you? Or have they been there so long, you can only see them as they were—or, as you were?
Habits, behaviors, pants—all the same thing. They become part of us and serve as a constant. Part of the growth is noticing when these no longer support your intentions. When things become outdated and irrelevant to the next version of you.
Those outdated beliefs (habits, pants) either drop away or risk holding you back. Change is scary. Limiting your potential is even scarier. When you hold on to something because it serves a purpose, it creates mental and emotional clutter.
Think of it like hoarding, but with self-sabotaging thoughts or behaviors.
If you find that holding on is getting in the way of personal progress, it might be time to bring in the giant dumpster.
Imagine everything you want to accomplish stumbling over a mountain of clutter. Now write down (yes, with a pen) one thing you can do immediately that moves you toward the goal. Keep doing this until a pattern emerges. That pattern is where you start sorting between what serves a purpose, instead of your purpose.
At this point, don’t worry where these things go. The point is to define what doesn’t fit you anymore, and that takes time. While going through the process, it’s easy to lose sight and focus on what used to be there. This is where setting intent comes in to play. Intent will guide your process of evaluating what stays and what goes.
Internalize your goals and create visible reminders of becoming, rather than existing. Post-it notes and sharpie pens are your new best friends. Capture each epiphany you experience and stick it on the wall. Start with something simple, then watch how things evolve. Let it be playful. Like dress-up day, try things on and see how it resonates against your intent.
And remember … keep what serves your purpose.
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