The contrast between “acquiring” and “discarding” is one worth exploring this week. In the pursuit of success, the widely-held assumption is that we must “acquire” – a degree, a title, a role, amount of money, a home, a certain type of car, certain skills, etc. We hold this assumption not because it is true, but because it is reinforced by societal norms. In order to get a degree, for example, there are schools where you can get these. In order to get a title, there is a corporate ladder to climb. In order to get the house of your dreams, there are things to be done to make money to acquire the home. In other words, there is no shortage when it comes to the “acquisition” part of the success journey. But where do you learn to discard? Discard your bad habits, discard negative people or experiences in your life, discard past trauma, or discard things you no longer need? I argue that the ability to “discard” is actually more important, especially as you get older, in the pursuit of success.
The reality is that it is infinitely easier to “acquire” someone or something you do not have than it is to “discard” someone or something you already have. I know too many people who constantly complain about their jobs, their bosses, relationships with food, bad habits, a lifestyle they cannot afford or really even want anymore. The attachment that all these negative circumstances have plays a significant role in the quality of life, thinking, feeling, and truth be told, actually impacts the positive attributes of life. Few have learned to simply “discard” the negativity. It is hard to discard someone who at first was important and helpful to you, but now is a source of negativity. It is hard to discard a company that once supported you, but now is a source of negativity and so on.
Here is an approach on how to discard. First is to identify the person/situation with an actual label, just as you would a new acquisition. If you buy a new car, you would call it “my new car” – and the same should be done with all people and circumstances that are a source of negativity. Then give it a cost. What is the price of that negativity – emotionally, physically and materially. Once this is understood, the last step is to set a date on the calendar and have in internal ceremony to say goodbye. The ceremony can be anything from a walk in the park, putting it in writing and throwing it out the window, or any other symbolic way that can demonstrate your emotional disconnection with the negativity. This week, make a list of all the negativity in your life and pick only one to discard by Friday. If you do this, I promise you that in the process of discarding, you will actually acquire something too – courage to be happy.