Letting Go of Outcomes October 22, 2014 – Posted in: Confidence, Personal Development – Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I have a client, we’ll call him Tim*, who used to be terribly worried about getting things right and not making mistakes. He worked a normal 40-hour week but then spent an additional 15-20 hours each week trying to improve the work he’d already done or spot any mistakes he might’ve missed. You might think Tim had a tyrannical boss but the truth is he works for himself, runs his own consultancy and therefore the only tyrannical boss was the one in his own head!

So, how did Tim manage to turn this around? Quite simply, we had to face his control and perfectionism – the two Hideous Horsemen who were causing his inability to accept that his best was enough. And, in my experience the best antidote to these two unwanted guests is ‘letting go of outcomes’. What I mean by this, in practical terms, is doing your best and leaving the results to take care of themselves. An example might be serving vegetables to your children (i.e. doing your best and giving them the choice) but not worrying if they don’t eat them. Another way to let go of outcomes might be to follow your first ever half-marathon training plan and then do your best on the race-day less concerned about the time you run in and more concerned about finishing and enjoying the experience.

Letting go of outcomes doesn’t me you stop caring about results – quite the opposite! It means you do your absolute best but know that you can’t control how your best is received in the world. You could train hard for that half marathon and then be sick on race day, unable to run. Does that negate the training you did or the fitness you achieved? No! It means you didn’t know what the future was going to hold but you did your best anyway.

Tim realised that control and perfectionism are the weeds that grow in the soil of fear. He was afraid he might not get further work if he didn’t put all the extra hours in but, by his own admission, he schedule was sending him to burnout and if he reached that place then there really might not be any further work. So, he learnt to put boundaries around his work and his thinking about his work. He works hard, does his best and then lets it go. It hasn’t failed him yet…


This blog post first appeared as an article in my Life Column in The Bath Magazine.

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