Day 86: How to Be Flexible (Even if You’re Not) or How I Learned To Pull The Stick From My Butt

Do you like to be in control?
Do you hate being in unfamiliar positions?
Do your friends laugh at you and say you’re too uptight?
Or are you too intense to have friends?
Don’t worry, you’re not alone – I used to be that guy.

I had to be in control of my situation at all times. I didn’t try new things. I never stepped out of my comfort level. And things had to be done in a very specific way.

Then I realized how miserable I was. And I examined why I was so inflexible. And it always came back to the same thing – fear.

Fear of doing something new, fear of making a mistake, fear of the unpredictable, and fear of the unknown.

Fear should never hold that much sway over your life. Fear is death to growth, ideas, and change. Fear keeps you in a box, in a rut, and oftentimes ironically delivers the same fate (or worse) than that which you were trying to avoid.

And while I’m still more uptight than some of my more carefree, fun-loving friends, I’ve taken some big steps forward in letting go. Here’s some of the ways I learned to be flexible.

Release control. As soon as you realize that the world won’t stop spinning without your direct control over every little thing, you’ll feel immensely better. Walking around with the weight of the world on your shoulders is no good for anyone – you or those around you, who have to deal with your moodiness or stress.

Give people credit. Yes, there’s a lot of people out there who will disappoint you if given half a chance. But there’s also a lot who will surprise you.

Accept that you don’t know everything about everything. We all want to be valuable at work. Value usually equals job security. However, you need to know when to step back and let others have a piece of the pie. While you might be the Resident Genius, you don’t have to be an expert on everything, or be available to answer everyone’s questions. Stick to what you do best and allow others to step up and shine in their roles.

Be daring. Are there things you’d love to do if you weren’t too chicken? Make a list and make an effort to do an item on your list once a week or once a month. With each new adventure, you’ll loosen up a bit more, gain confidence, and find it easier to step out of your comfort zone more often.

Role play. Role playing isn’t just for Dungeons & Dragons and fetishists. You can mentally role play as if you are someone with a bit more confidence or someone who does daring stuff all the time. Obviously, you don’t want to do something you’re not trained to do, but certainly you can pretend to be confident enough to dance in public, try out a song or stand-up act at an open-mic night, or meet people you would otherwise be afraid to approach.

Have no shame. My three year old dances without a care in the world, oblivious to who is watching, or how silly he might look. He’s just having fun! He hasn’t yet learned to be self conscious and hide behind a facade of acceptable behavior. Eventually, adulthood seems to crush that part of us as we become more concerned with how other people see us. Wouldn’t it be great to tap into that part of ourselves more often? The part that’s not afraid to let go and enjoy life!

It can be tough to come out of your shell, to let go, and enjoy life. But it’s better than the alternative – living in fear, never really experiencing anything deeply.

What ways have you learned to let go and be more flexible? Share your story below.


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David Wright is a ghostwriter who is chronicling his year in self improvement at Project 30 Days starting in January.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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