Module Plan: Month of Letting Go
By Leo Babauta
Are we ready to start the Month of Letting Go module? Great!
So each week, we’ll focus on practicing with a different area of letting go. But the process for each week is the same.
Here’s the plan:
- Pick a trigger. Your trigger is the thing that directly precedes your habit. Something you do every day, where you’ll do your letting go right after. Your trigger should be something you already do every day, even if the time might vary a little — it’s part of your routine. Some ideas might include: waking up, using the bathroom in the morning, eating breakfast, drinking coffee or tea, going to work, brushing your teeth, arriving at work, eating lunch, dropping off the kids, leaving work, arriving home, eating dinner, going to bed. While your routine may vary, all of us have at least one of those things that we do each day.
- Create a reminder. The best reminders are something that will let you remember right when your trigger happens — a note posted at your breakfast table, if your trigger is eating breakfast, or on your coffee cup if that’s your trigger, or on your bathroom mirror if your trigger is showering or brushing your teeth. Computer or mobile device reminders can work too. Just make sure that when the trigger happens, you’ll remember. This is especially important the first week.
- Make a commitment. Tell at least one person you’re going to do this challenge for each day of this month. Two people is better. Even better: 5, 10 or 20 people. Post on the Sea Change challenge forum or find an accountability team. Or post it on Facebook, Twitter, G+ or your blog. This helps you remain accountable.
- Do the habit each day after the trigger. When your trigger happens, be very conscious of fulfilling your commitment — spending 2-5 minutes letting go. See the next section for how to do this.
- Report your success. After you do the habit, report your success on the day’s daily accountability thread in the Challenge Forum. If there’s already a thread for that day, just reply to it, otherwise create a new thread (be sure there isn’t already one for today’s date!). If you didn’t do the habit.
If you skip a day … don’t feel guilty. Feeling guilty is the enemy of habits. Just let it go. That’s your habit for the day — letting go of the guilt. Go on the forum, reply to the day’s thread, fess up, and maybe ask for encouragement. That’s what the forum is for. Just start again the next day.
On Day 1, do steps 1-4. Each day after that, you really only need to do steps 5 & 6 when your trigger happens.
Daily Letting Go Session
What do you do during your 2-5 minute letting go session? Here’s what I suggest:
- Pay attention to what you’re holding onto. For example, if you’re focusing on distractions, notice what distractions are getting in your way. Facebook, email, Reddit, Pinterest, etc.
- Watch your urges to go to your distraction. What does the urge feel like? What need are you fulfilling when you give in to those urges? What does it feel like when you imagine not having the thing you’re holding onto?
- Notice what pain the thing you’re holding onto is causing you. For example, distractions are causing you to waste your time, and not live the life you want to live. Possessions are causing you to waste your income, clutter your house, get into debt, spend your time shopping when you could be doing something better. Know that this pain is unnecessary, and caused completely by your attachment.
- Notice that you don’t truly need the thing you’re holding onto. It’s a false need. You can let it go, and be freed of its burden.
- Now imagine that the attachment is gone from your life. Feel the release of pain and burden. Feel the freedom. Feel the lightness. Smile.
Extend Your Daily Letting Go
The daily letting go session is just a practice, a sitting still and turning inward. It’s good practice for the rest of your life.
So I suggest that during the rest of the day, you put little visual reminders to remember to watch your attachments, and practice letting them go, in small doses.
For example, if you’re letting go of distractions, watch your distractions. Notice when you have an urge to go to a common distraction. Watch the urge, but don’t act on it. Notice what pain the distraction causes you, and how you don’t need it.
If you do this a little throughout the day, you’ll get pretty good at it over time.
Suggestions for Weekly Letting Go
You can choose whatever you like to let go, but here are some suggestions.
Week 1 – Distractions
Make a list of your common distractions (social media, news, TV, Youtube, Pinterest, email, text messages, etc.).
Practice letting them go, in your daily session and throughout the day.
Pick tasks to stick to as you go through your day. Stay with that task. Let go of the distractions.
Report your progress on the forum.
It’s OK to mess up — this takes practice, and you’re learning.
Week 2 – Possessions
Put in a box to donate, drop off at a charity on the weekend:
- A few shirts you don’t need
- A pair of pants you don’t wear much
- Something you’ve been holding onto for sentimental reasons only
- 5 books you really aren’t going to read
- Some cookingware or dishes you don’t ever use
- A device or appliance you don’t need
Week 3 – Needs
Try going one day without something you think you “need”. For example:
- Your car
- The Internet
- Your mobile device
- Wine or beer
Week 4: Wishing Things Would Be
We often wish things were different than they actually are, and that wishing causes pain. Try letting go of one of them when you notice it. Some examples:
- Wishing your spouse put things away
- Wishing your kids behaved a certain way
- Wishing your co-worker wouldn’t talk so much
- Wishing the person in traffic didn’t cut you off
- Wishing someone hadn’t interrupted you
- Wishing you were slimmer
After 4 weeks, there are still a few days in December. Use those days to look at other things you’re attached to, and practice letting go.