The most useful advice for me in 2012 came from Wayne Willis*: “Let go of the results.” In other words, put your best foot forward, but accept that you can’t control the outcome.
In 2012, I did give my best. What was challenging, even more than the fight forward, was staying sane enough to let go and to keep moving forward.
When things are outside of your control, when they don’t work out, you’ve simply got to push forward with your business and with yourself. At work, that’s easy—keep doing the marketing, keep following up on the leads, keep building a great product. But outside of work, it’s not so obvious.
When I looked back on 2012’s challenges, I mentioned that there were 3 things that got me through it. Here they are again, this time with explanation. I offer my formula to you, so you too can push through:
1. Take Care of Yourself
When shit got hard in 2012, I hit the track. Without realizing it, I found myself in particularly good shape. It’s been a (not quite) joke in my relationships that when things are peachy-keen I have nothing to write about. I’ve uncovered a second truth—when things gets tough, I run more, too. Try it—hard running feels a lot better than a marathon of Breaking Bad.
Beyond running, I went camping and kayaking and generally surrounded myself with the beauty that is the Bay Area. Nature physically changes me, and a day away is a chance to get to know friends much better than breaking bread.
When it’s rainy or late, writing has always been a help for me. If I’m too tired to write, I’ll simply record to my iPhone. It’s amazing what sharing it all can do, even if it’s just sharing with yourself.
Lastly, I added chess to the mix this year. Though I generally avoid games, something about the thinking that chess demands just felt right to me; it’s an escape that I’m comfortable with.
2. Find the Company of Friends or Family
As I mentioned, I try to stay active when there’s a lot on my mind. I also try to surround myself with friends, even if it’s just their company when we’re working across from one another at a cafe.
I get a lot out of doing for others. While it can be frustrating if they don’t reciprocate, I’ve come to accept that I’m the one who will likely reach out more. We all have our own approach to friendships, and I know my friends appreciate when I include them.
While there are some ways that a friend can’t replace a significant other, it’s surprised me just how good a job they can do. Whether it be reading together on a weekend morning or late night dancing or cooking together, most activities don’t have to be reserved for lovers.
3. Never Give Up on Doing What’s Right
Whether or not I have a chance to get outside or be around close friends, I at least try to avoid the things I might regret. Somehow this is easy for me (I’ve never drunk-dialed), but I know that for others this is difficult.
By doing what’s right, that means I never say hurtful things, instead I over-communicate, and I blame myself whenever possible. It means that I don’t always win, but at the end of the day I feel like I did what was best for the situation in the long-run, even if it wasn’t good for me in the moment.
This approach to being the better person led to one of the hardest weeks of my life, but now I know that I put everything in…so it’s possible to let go of the results.
If you’re not sure about something, write out what your instincts tell you. Talk to a friend. Sleep on it. Sometimes it’s just a matter of letting time dull the situation for the right path to come to you.
These are the things that got me through the challenges in 2012. I imagine that they’ll play a role in guiding me through the years to come. I welcome any techniques you use to let go of the results and make it through the year.
* Wayne Willis not only helped me to let go of the results, he was a big part of knowing what path to forge. I hope you too can find someone who’s been through similar life challenges and wound up on top. Thank you, Wayne.