In order to reach your goals and have greater impact, you have to keep moving forward. Each step of your journey is an opportunity to recognize what to take with you and what you should leave behind. Many of us have a hard time leaving things behind because “where we are” is comfortable and familiar, but it can also be toxic and unhealthy if we stay too long.
For some, there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with being comfortable, and not everyone has to embrace being uncomfortable. It is very important to be able to identify when an environment, or the people in the environment, are not helping you grow. Having the tools and confidence to progress and leave “it” behind provides a healthier platform to share your skills and passion with others.
Deciding to disconnect is hard, as some won’t understand your decision and take it personally. Keep in mind that if you want to fully step into what it is you are called to do, sometimes your circle has to get smaller because focus drives energy. When that energy is funneled into the center, the structure of its path can create stronger and greater impact.
Toxic environments, behaviors, and thoughts only stifle and impede your ability to think clearly and focus on what is important. If you are involved with toxic people, it may be difficult to recognize that, on the surface, they may seem to be supportive of you, but their motives are not genuine. Their words and actions are meant to pull you back and undermine your progress. They feel threatened or jealous and may become “emotional vampires”, sucking the life out of you, and taking away from what you can provide to the world.
You have to continue to focus on your goal, rise above the negativity and pessimism, and leave it behind or risk stagnation. Embrace the ability to disconnect by pulling on your strength and commitment to move ahead without the weight of it all. Here are some ways that you can disconnect in order to connect:
1. Do not engage or play the game.
People who feed on your energy miss when you are not around. Occasionally, they will reach out to you to see how or what you are doing. Be discerning of how they communicate and if they are genuine. Authentic people care and ask questions about you and want to learn about your progress in order to help you or guide you on your path. The people who cannot relate to or connect with your vision and journey may blame you for disengaging or have a pessimistic view of your ambitions. They do not understand your journey and use words in an effort to make you feel guilt or try to pull you back to their level.
2. Disconnect with certain people on social media.
Social media is fun and can be a great resource to stay connected to friends and colleagues, however, it feeds and fuels many emotions. Spending time scrolling through posts and updates not only takes time away from working on your idea or business, but can also foster unhealthy comparisons, fears of inadequacy, and may impede your confidence in stepping out of your comfort zone. Social media, unfortunately, also provides a platform for your enemies to troll and use your goals and aspirations against you. When people are critical of who you are, what you are doing, and what you stand for, it may be time to leave them behind. Allowing them to continue to have access to your life is not healthy and can be emotionally exhausting.
3. Say goodbye and don’t look back.
Making the decision to resign a position or leave a job to pursue other opportunities should be on your terms and for your own benefit. Other people or co-workers may not understand your decision because, from their perspective, you were a “good fit” or they felt you brought much to the table. They may have had visions of your upward mobility within their corporate structure, despite the fact that, based on your strengths and passions, it’s just not where you felt you needed to be. It may be hard to disconnect, but there is no reason to meet socially solely to re-examine your time at the company, or to discuss what has happened since you left. If you maintain relationships with former coworkers, agree to NOT talk about work when you are together. The reason that the windshield of your car is larger than the rear-view mirror is because it allows you to see a bigger landscape as it’s more important to focus on what lies ahead than what you have left behind.
4. Let people have their own space.
If you are someone who feels “the more, the merrier”, it may be hard to understand that not everyone NEEDS to be included. In fact, by recruiting others, you may actually be taking them away from succeeding in their own space. Not everyone has the same strengths, weaknesses, hopes, and dreams. The harder you pursue your own journey, the more you will realize that there are twists and turns, highs and lows, and challenges to navigate. The freedom to focus on your passion and energy allows others to find their own way to make an impact. Like you, it’s a leap of faith they need to make on their own and should be highlighted by their talents and passions. You may have worked well as a team, but sometimes separation allows each of you an opportunity to flourish.
5. Always choose to take the high road.
Simply disconnecting with an individual or business does not necessarily mean that you no longer support them, yet if they do not fully understand your decision to leave or are not supportive of your new direction, this could lead to speculation and gossip. It is unfortunate that not everyone shares in your excitement and enthusiasm, but there is always a choice in how you respond to the chatter. Truly moving forward, even in the face of lies and falsehoods, involves responding with grace and humility. If you are true to who you say you are, living your life and managing your business in a manner that is genuine and authentic should eliminate all speculation. Taking the high road means that even if someone spoke poorly of you, by virtue of your behavior, personality, and relationships, no one would believe any negative things that others are saying.
"Leaving it behind" does not have to be negative or frightening. It is empowering to embrace individual differences and recognize that we all have something to offer the world – sometimes by working together and sometimes we rise alone.
Every step in your journey requires a different YOU. The sooner you accept that reality, the more sincerely you can step out and genuinely impact the world around you. Someone is waiting, so what is stopping you from stepping away from whatever or whoever is holding you back and getting connected to your passion?
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Dr. Natalie Phillips is the founder and CEO of Connect4Excellence, a company dedicated to connect individuals and their businesses to their own mission and culture, to connect to others at events, to connect their own unique voice with a bigger audience, and to connect to give back. She is passionate about building deep relationships and authentic connections to help make a difference in the world together. She is committed to assisting both men and women to become more of who they are and to live out their brand. She believes in creating environments in which people can connect on different levels to help their businesses succeed.
Dr. Phillips is an Audiologist with Advanced Otolaryngology and Audiology in Fort Collins, Colorado. In addition to diagnosing and treating hearing loss, tinnitus, and balance disorders of the ear, she volunteers her time as a Global Hearing Ambassador to travel overseas with the Starkey Hearing Foundation, most recently to India, Peru, Guyana, and Mexico to deliver the gift of hearing and connect them to life by fitting hearing aids on people who are unable to afford the technology.
She is a founding sister of Women Unite, a group of women whose mission is to inspire, ignite, and assist other women achieve their potential in today’s professional setting. Dr. Phillips is a Global Ambassador Emeritus and served on the Legacy Project Steering Committee, as well as currently serves as Colorado Chapter Leader for Empowering A Billion Women by 2020, an initiative to provide the tools, technology, and resources to empower women as leaders and successful entrepreneurs.