I am most definitely a recovering perfectionist, still very much a planner, and sure do love to feel like I’m in control of my life. (I mean, doesn’t everyone?) But if I may be honest… most times it’s completely exhausting to live this way. Not to mention, there is absolutely NO fun in planning for every moment. We are creatures of habit, of routine. Even those of us who are free spirits or adventurers – we like for our adventures to go a certain way and often times when they don’t, it’s scary and uncomfortable. It’s in these times I’ve found myself thinking, Emily. Just let go and go with the flow. But that’s easier said that done, let’s be real. Because what does ‘going with the flow’ even mean, right?
I’m learning that going with the flow does not always mean going with the way of the world, but rather – knowing when to let go, when to simplify, and when to say yes to adventure. Going with the flow is saying goodbye to the distractions the world says I need in order to survive and instead, riding the wave of my own life’s journey. I’m finding that going with the flow does not mean giving up; it doesn’t mean throwing in the towel or giving in to something simply because life gets hard. Going with the flow doesn’t mean I’ve stopped trying. In fact, going with the flow is quite literally an action… one that I must choose. I must choose to be willing to sometimes let go of my plan, and to let go of the idea that I always know what’s best.
What about applying this idea to the day-to-day? Well, let’s break it down. Here are 5 specific ways I’ve learned to let go and go with the flow:
- SIMPLIFY: The definition of the world simplify means “to reduce to fundamental (necessary) parts.” If it feels like I’m trying to desperately swim upstream, often times it means I have too many unnecessary distractions in my life. I usually start with a break from social media and then immediately take all of the thoughts in my mind and write them down. This ultimately becomes a To Do list and if I have an entire page full of to-do’s, I know it’s time to ask for help. It’s time to re-prioritize.
- PERSPECTIVE: While the phrase, “it could be worse” may bring comfort to some, it rarely brings comfort to me. I think this is because even though it could always be worse, that sure doesn’t mean that my feelings of frustration aren’t real or valid. Instead, I focus on the things I can be grateful for in my life and before I know it, 90% of my ‘problems’ aren’t as big as I thought they were.
- ACCEPT THE IMPERFECT: Ah, the hardest one, can I get an Amen?! However, it is doable – and necessary. The kinder I am to myself, the more I realize there is always beauty to be found, even in the chaos.
- VISUALIZE: There are times I literally close my eyes and envision myself floating on a river, allowing myself to safely ride the waves over the rocks and around the bends. The key word here is “safely ride” – as I picture myself riding with the flow of life, it’s important to remember that I am safe in doing so; it’s okay to let go.
- TRUST: The most important one for me! This means putting my worries and trust in Jesus and knowing, believing, and trusting that my best interest – and all of my dreams! – are in His caring hands. Praying and reading through scripture helps me to put my hopes into something greater: a God who reminds me not to worry, to trust Him, and to follow His lead.
Going with the flow doesn’t always make sense to our rational brains, but it sure does provide rest to our souls and adventure to the journey. To this day, one of my most favorite adventure in life was a 20 minute, unplanned car ride to Starbucks. Christian and I had just moved into our Nashville home and were without our coffee maker so a “quick trip” to the coffee shop was needed for our 6am wakeup call. Google maps had given me two route options for the trip: the quick one that would take me on the interstate, or the long one that would take me through the hills and winding roads of our new Tennessee terrain. I was comfortable with the interstate and was in a serious time-crunch, which is why it made absolutely NO sense when I chose the long route at the last minute. What a surprise I was in for! The beauty I was gifted on that drive is something that will be stuck in my memory until the day I die, and I was grateful that the Planner in me quieted enough so that the ‘go with the flow’ explorer in me could live a little and not worry so much about whether or not it would fit into my original plan.
Life is the ultimate adventure – a gift to each and every one of us – not meant to be controlled but to be explored and truly lived!
A version of this post was originally first shared on 4/10/15 over at Best Kept Self.