Letting go of outcome

Letting go of outcome

Each evening at the end of a long, busy day I have a good laugh on myself, “Howard,” I say, “I know you don’t want to die before you die, so let me remind you not to work yourself to death.”

I’m busy! In addition to writing another book and planning a not-for-profit foundation as soon as this damn pandemic ends, I’m partnering in a start-up digital media network to include a half dozen internet publications. Indeed, I’m taking the theme of my “Cheating Death” posts to heart, continuing to be engaged, keeping the vital parts active and staying relevant in this high speed, ever-evolving world we live in.

But here’s the rub: I’m energized and thoroughly enjoying the creative aspect of the projects, but the technical and administrative, the so-called “business” side of the projects, irk and frustrate me. I’m impatient. I want results. I know that it is rare to reach an ambitious destination without setbacks and failures along the way; I know that plan A gives way to plan B and plan C and half the alphabet along the way. But the faltering progress of two steps forward, one step back, is exasperating.

And that’s the challenge for me. I am bothered by my inability to simply enjoy the process rather than get caught up in the results. It’s an emotionally costly flaw.

I have to be conscious of a tendency to take to the bunker whenever an opinion varies from mine, and to recognize when I’m about to go too far hammering across my point. I must remember the words of advice from a long ago therapist, “Howard, stop walking like an elephant when a rabbit’s step would do nicely.”

That said, I’m light years past thinking that my identity is dependent on my ability, or lack of ability, to control the result. The reality is things seldom go exactly to plan; we are not top of the mark at everything we attempt. The trick is to let go of outcome.

It’s not as if I don’t set goals. They are necessary to help keep me focused on doing what it takes to achieve what I start out to do. The danger for me comes when I confuse goals with expectations. There’s a big difference: not reaching a goal leaves me disappointed, but typically I rebound from the failure and learn from it. Unfulfilled expectations on the other hand, can lead me to doubt and defeatism and pulling the covers over my head until a beard grows in.

Letting go of outcomes and being fully absorbed by the process – the journey – is far more satisfying.

For starters, you give yourself room to pivot when the blockade looms whereas when we’re attached to an outcome, we tend to fixate on, or only accept one solution — excluding any new information, ideas, or opportunities.

More important for me when I let go of my attachment to the outcome, it keeps me in the moment, engaged in congenial relationships with co-workers and engrossed in what I am doing rather than vanished into the future (where a Maserati is parked in the driveway after the IPO puts a billion bucks in my wallet).

And finally, not to be overlooked, I’m learning stuff! This octogenarian has become the editor of a daily digital publication, a learning process that started with my ten year old granddaughter teaching me how to upload an image into a text block!

Check it out. Go to www.seniornewsdaily.com and see today’s news for seniors all in one place. I’ll look forward to your feedback… and the journey ahead.

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    Howard Englander

    In the course of a long business career I held many titles familiar to the corporate world. But as I quickly learned the lofty nameplates no longer apply when your career comes to a close and you move from the corner office to a corner of the den. The challenge was to stay vital and active rather than idling on the sidelines. I had to create a new foundation upon which to build life’s purpose and joy. I stopped adding up my stock portfolio as a measure of my net worth and developed a healthy self esteem independent of applause from others. I am the co-author of The In-Sourcing Handbook: Where and How to Find the Happiness You Deserve, a practical guide and instruction manual offering hands-on exercises to help guide readers to experience the transformative shift from simply tolerating life to celebrating life. I also am the author of 73, a popular collection of short stories about America’s growing senior population running the gamut of emotions as they struggle to resist becoming irrelevant in a youth-oriented society.

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