There’s this weird saying in the personal development/high performance world which goes as follows: Kill your darlings.
Now, on the surface, that seems like something you’d only dare to say if you wanted people to think you were some kind of crazy person.
But if we dig a little deeper, we soon realize that there’s actually very little advice which holds quite as much potential as this statement.
In case you haven’t worked it out by now, the advice is figurative.
What we really mean when we talk about killing your darlings is eliminating the things in your life that are okay, nice, not bad, and even pretty good, but ultimately holding you back from reaching your next level.
If we think about the 80/20 principle, these things would fall in the 80 percent of tasks that create 20 percent of your results, even if you enjoy doing them.
Sometimes it means letting go of things that have served you until this point but are now the exact bottlenecks stopping you from breaking through.
Sometimes it means letting go of a source of income that has kept you afloat in order to make space for something new and exciting.
Sometimes it means letting go of something you’re passionate about in order to call in the next layer of your ever-unfolding purpose.
And sometimes it means letting go of relationships that fulfilled you in the past but are now holding you back from the person you’re inspired to become.
It’s the classic “the thing that got you here won’t get you there.”
I was reminded about this concept recently after having to kill some darlings of my own.
See, I recently landed a gig supporting one of my biggest mentors who runs what I consider my dream company to work for if I ever decided to go back to working for someone else again.
Everything about the opportunity was exciting. I was working alongside close friends of mine, the money was good, there was a tangible purpose attached to the position, and it supported thousands of people around the world in optimizing their lives.
Yet as time went by, I started to notice that the added workload (on top of everything else I was doing) was preventing me from spending time on my own business, dialing in my fundamentals (eat, move, sleep) and just creating a general feeling of overwhelm (which is right up there with my least favorite experiences).
On its own, the gig was amazing. But combined with everything else, it just didn’t fit.
And so I had to kill that darling.
Since doing so, I immediately felt lighter and like I had more space. And if you’re doing anything creative (like writing an article every day, for example), space is important.
If something has started to feel like it’s weighing you down or no longer serving you, ask yourself:
- Is this thing still moving me towards my vision?
- Is it affecting my lifestyle or fundamentals?
- Is it stopping me from spending time on the things that really matter?
- What is my overall experience/feeling when I’m doing this thing?
- Is it an 80/20 activity/relationship/etc. (the 20% of things creating 80% of the results)?
Remember, we don’t want to completely optimize for happiness. Some meaningful pursuits require a little bit of struggle.
But we also want to make sure that things we’re spending our time on are not holding us back from what we can truly have, be, do, and create.
If they are, it may be time to kill your darlings.
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