Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: Knowing When (and How) to Let Go

By Tea Silvestre, aka The Word Chef

Building a thriving small business is a little like dancing.

Okay, it’s a LOT like dancing.

When we begin, we dance solo much of the time. Tentatively learning the steps — by ourselves (with a homestudy course) or with a teacher or a mentor.

Eventually, as our confidence and skill level builds, we begin to dance with others — our clients, our community, our vendors and our peers. If we’re lucky, the dancing (usually) turns into something that looks a lot like a party.

But have you ever felt like you were dancing too much? Too fast?

Sure, you may be doing something you love, something you’re passionate about — at least, that’s how it started. But now, you’re more dizzy than ecstatic.

It happens to the best of us.

Finding Your Own Rhythm

Typically, at the close of any year we take time to reflect. On what we’ve accomplished over the previous months. On the goals that we turned into reality (or that fell by the wayside). We look at what went sideways. And most importantly, we ask ourselves what we’d like to create next year.

What if you also spent some time thinking about what you’d like to give up?

Mark Silver, of Heart of Business, wrote about just this topic in his post, Preparing for December.

He begins with the story of a client who told him she wanted to quit her entire business. That she was done. Finished. Kaput.

He thought it was definitely time for her to quit. But not in the way she thought.

He’s got a few recommendations for thinking about quitting. (Go ahead and read his post. I’ll wait.)

Did you just feel your heart expand?

It’s good to remember that sometimes we need to slow down the dancing and consider who we are and what we really want.

Releasing the Wrong Dance Partners

Very recently, I had the privilege of quitting something BIG myself: an old vision of who I was and what I was meant to bring to the world.

This quitting was huge for me because, well…it was/is woven into a massively large project.

When I began the planning of it, it looked grand and beautiful. I was excited about the possibilities and couldn’t wait to see it debut on the world-wide-web.

But over time, my perspective about my role and purpose shifted. And before I knew what happened, I found myself depressed and annoyed with this big awesome thing.

I no longer believed that my project was the wonderfabulous offering it first was. In fact, I was sure that I was dancing the wrong dance with the wrong people for the wrong reasons.

Simply put, I wanted to quit. Quit the whole darned thing. Just chuck in the towel and move on. Get a J-O-B.

When I confessed all of this to my mastermind group, they held that quitting space for me for a few moments and then lovingly challenged me to see — surprise, surprise — that the reason they believed in my dancing was the reason I was there in the first place. That I could re-focus, re-work and re-invent my project to be in total balance with who I am now.

I didn’t need to give up the project. I just needed a realignment.

What about you? What projects or roles are you ready to set down or reinvent? What dance partners are you ready to let go of? Share with us in a comment and let’s celebrate your new dance steps together.

This post is part of the November Word Carnival. The topic is Letting go: How and What to Trim to Keep Your Business Lean and Focused. Come read the rest of the genius ideas and join the carney fun. 

photo credit: jbhthescots via photopin cc

About Tea (the Chef)

As a marketing coach/consultant, Tea loves to help her clients find and share their Secret Sauce with the world. She’s also the founder of the ground-breaking reality web series, “Prosperity’s Kitchen” and the author of “Attract and Feed a Hungry Crowd.” Connect on Twitter: @TeaSilvestre.

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  • Melanie Kissell

    Your post is uplifting to the max, Tea! I’m going to deem it a “pivotal” post. Why? Because it’s of crucial importance in relation to the development or success.

    I love these words from Mark Silver …
    “Trying to fill a full cup just makes a mess.”

    My cup has been way too full for way too long and with all the wrong juice (Other people’s tasteless concoctions). I’m encouraged to dump it out and fill it up with “me”. :-)

    • Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

      Mark is often very Zen with his marketing advice, Melanie. Glad you found this post so helpful. ;-)

  • Sharon Hurley Hall

    I remember wanting to run a writing team because it seemed the right thing to do to grow my business, Tea. Once I had a team, I realized that I spent so much time managing it that I was doing less writing – and that wasn’t the goal (at the time). I eventually had to pull back and reduce the numbers from 12+ to 2/3 go-to people whom I call when needed. Much better. Refocusing is a good thing. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    • Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

      And thanks for reading, Sharon!

  • Philip Wade

    Great one Tea. Love it! Very appropriate for the end of 2012 letting go of or quitting who we thought we were and embracing more of who we are. Would need to check with my co-founders but I am wondering about this as a guest blog on our Spheres Of Light website. Its a non-profit foundation dedicated to elevating human consciousness.

    • Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

      I’m happy to share this one (or something similar) with your SOL website, Philip. Just let me know…

  • Sandi Amorim

    At the end of October I made my way to a silent retreat, in the throes of feeling like I was done with my business. Twelve years was enough and I was going to wrap it up and create something new. As you said, I was done. During those 5 days of silence I realized that it was time to let go of some parts of my business, but I didn’t really want to chuck it all completely – I just needed a realignment.

    I love how Mark Silver put it, ” You need to slow it down enough to see with the eyes of your heart, without the filter of your mind’s story.”

    • Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

      You, too?! Wow, Sandi – I had no idea. (Also, did you ever get my card?) I’m so glad you decided it wasn’t time to quit just yet. Looking forward to your Reset.Revive.Restart. program.

  • clarestweets

    Great analogy Tea! yes, it is a dance and sometimes the moves just need to change. You are brilliant at recognizing that! Best line of the post — “that the reason they believed in my dancing was the reason I was there in the first place. That I could re-focus, re-work and re-invent my project to be in total balance with who I am now.”

    • Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

      Thanks Clare! There’s so much to learn about yourself when you’re in business, huh? It’s the quickest path to self-actualization, me thinks.

  • Nick Armstrong

    I call that betting against myself. It’s one of the hardest things that you can ever think to do, the decision to leave your business and move onto the next big thing – even if that’s a 9-to-5. The things that you once felt unthinkable, like having a boss, having to work regular hours, having to go somewhere in order to get work done, those things suddenly become palatable when you realize that small hill of business-owner stress that you were anticipating is actually a mountain.

    Like the first steps on the path to Mordor, you realize there’s no turning back.

    We have to shed those things that drag us down and take energy away from us. Sure, it’s no cakewalk, giving things up can be just as painful as lugging them along with us. Often times, the choice to give something up and how to do it just isn’t apparent.

    Quitting, especially in America, is not a “valued” skill – but it should be! That should be a free e-course somewhere. I wish it existed. I may write it. And then I’ll hand it out for free, but like every lesson, it has to be tempered with the knowledge that “the dip” as Seth Godin calls it is sometimes only temporary. Discerning the difference is a rare ability indeed.

    • Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

      I would LOVE to see you write that ecourse, Nick. And I’ll be first in line to read and share it, too.

      • Nick Armstrong

        Done and done. I’ll get started on it in 2013! :-D

  • Carol Lynn Rivera

    Love the analogy! Seems like lots of times in this grand dance there is a whole lot of stepping on other people’s feet and tripping on shoelaces. But then you have to get into your groove again maybe with a new song, new partner or new dance floor!

    Ok, I’m maxed out on analogy extension :)

    You asked a very good question that I don’t know I can answer which means I will obsess on it for a while until I can. Those are the best kind of questions… the ones that make me think (usually over a plate of brownies) about what the heck I’m doing and whether the heck I want to be. I wish realignment was as easy as moving the TV antenna half an inch to get reception (how badly am I dating myself??) but it’s got to be done. And in the end it can be fun because it’s a little like discovering your inner BeeGee ;)

    • Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

      LOL. You and I should have a metaphor-off and see who can max out other analogies for marketing and business. I bet we’d have fun (especially if we did this over a plate of brownies). Looking forward to hearing how/what you decide to realign.

  • Michelle Church

    Yea…I have been dancing strong for a while through a lot of pain. I danced harder to avoid the pain and I do think it did help deal with it for the most part. I still have not picked all of the pieces, but I am more focused on things that are a priority. But it has made me look at some things, and people that I have in my circle both business and personal and re-evaluate who I want to keep as my dance partners. Had not thought about it that way until I read this and as usual you got me thinkin’. Still trying to catch up with myself and continue planning and my goal is to have it ready by the end of December. You inspired me once again!

    • Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

      I’m so glad you found this one helpful, Michelle. And looking forward to hearing about your plans for 2013.

  • evan austin

    I needed this! Though not directly/immediately business related, I have decided to write a novel…and I am already finding that my initial steps didn’t match the music of the story, which is fast becoming an entity unto itself (which I think is GREAT!). It’s a lesson in staying attentive enough to notice the changes, and loose enough to adapt to the new steps.

    • Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

      A novel! That’s fabulous, evan. Can’t wait to read it! And yes — this dancing stuff takes a bit of practice.

  • Erica Tucci

    Fabulous Tea! It all reminds me of something I’m including in my healing book, about moving from an ego-based consciousness to a heart-based consciousness. Going from being in the place of (false) control where u try to “make it fit” to a place where u are guided by divine inspiration. I like to believe that when one is “on a magic carpet ride with Spirit at the helm”, life flows so much easier. Does that make sense?

    • Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

      Totally makes sense, Erica. I’m big on going with the flow, too. But because I’m so goal-oriented, I sometimes forget about that flow and find myself dancing with two left feet. LOL. Looking forward to reading your book.

  • SandyMcD

    Double thanks Tea. First, your inimitable style that makes one, stop, think and sometimes, like now, go: “oh heck, am I about to become a whirling dervish and melt in my own perspiration?” But forewarned is forearmed! And slow marketing and realignment can be my companions as I forge ahead in my new venture next year.

    And secondly, for Mark’s profound lines which Sandi already quoted. That has got me tuned into the filter of my mind’s story and just what level LIzard operates, and what attention I should paying it. Much of the time I think the dialogues goes on in our brains and we’re either in denial or so tuned out to its whinging, that we pay no heed.

    Focusing on the filter of our mind’s story is another companion for the new year. Thank you again and for your conception, nurturing and the bringing of fulfilment to this truly wonderful Carnival.

    • Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

      So glad you enjoyed this one, Sandy. We are all fabulous storytellers — mostly telling stories to ourselves. It’s a good practice to check in with yourself on a regular basis and make sure those stories are the ones that benefit you.

  • Nicole Fende

    Tea you continue to be an inspiration to the rest of us. Sharing your inner battles, including the doubts, is a brave thing to do. Sometimes it can be tempting to come across as super human or “past that” in the false belief it will help you succeed.

    For our wedding day dance my husband and I decided to take swing lessons. It took some work, and there were days we probably thought we HAD chosen the wrong partner, but the end result was fun.
    To this day, if In the Mood for Swing comes on we dance.

    • Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

      What a great story, Nicole. And the next time I hear that song, I will imagine you and your husband dancing. Thanks for sharing!

  • Janet

    Definitely needing to reinvent my business next year and throw out a few curveballs!

  • pwlsax

    Never quit without something bigger – and scarier – in mind. Anything else is a failure you’ll never learn from.