I’m writing today about the paradox of holding on to what we want to achieve, and letting go to have it happen faster.

One of my favorite experiments as a child was starting with a small bowl of corn starch and adding water until you got something between soup and Play-Doh.

What was so special about this simple starchy mixture? The magic happens when you take a handful of it out of the bowl.

When you squeeze the mixture, it becomes a solid. It’s almost like holding a rock or a piece of plastic that takes the shape of your hand. It’s also breakable and brittle, when you squeeze it.

But when you let go and ease the pressure off, the texture changes and becomes soft and melty. Flowing, even.

There’s also a middle ground, where you can gently hold the mixture and it won’t break or seep through your fingers, either.

Should You Hold Tight Or Let Go?

I haven’t done this physics experiment in years, but I have been doing a lot of learning and experimenting in other areas of my life and business.

I’ve noticed that whenever I try to hold on tight to something in my life, it freezes. Like that corn starch mixture, it just tightens up and becomes brittle enough to break.

I’ve set all kinds of goals for myself in the past ranging from financial milestones, fitness regimes, and other “measurable things”. I love measurable things because you know whether you’re getting closer or not.

But I’ve noticed that how I approach these goals really impacts my ability to reach them.

It’s like if the energy behind my intention can be felt by the goal itself, and if it isn’t relaxed, open handed, and full of appreciation… then it’s not happening.

It’s like walking a fine line between wanting it enough to do something about it, but not so much that you’re going to choke it.

So How Do You Get What You Want?

I’ve experienced how letting go of things that we “should” be holding onto can really shift things in a big way.

I learned this the hard way.

A few years ago, I had built up a web design company and had a few contractors and collaborators working with me. From the outside everything looked fine, but on the inside I knew this wasn’t the right path for me anymore.

I knew that letting go of this company and the people that I cherished so much would be tough. I was holding on tight because it was all I knew how to do at that point, but I knew that my team could feel the tightness.

When I finally acknowledged that I wanted to move on, I felt a surge of relief. I had been agonizing over this decision for weeks, while my subconscious had been sounding alarms for months.

It was like opening my hand to let things flow.

And flow they did: my team regrouped and now they’ve gone on to find other incredible gigs. I now have people to refer to for web design, and I’ve gone on to build the business that was in my heart waiting to blossom.

Letting go of what was known and certain made space for what was to come. @NathLussier
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I had no assurances that the new direction I was going to pursue would pan out, but I was determined to make it happen and my intention was going to lead me in a positive direction.

If I had tried to start this new business without letting go first, I wouldn’t have been able to hold on to either situation and it would have ended poorly.

What Other Things In Life Follow This Paradox?

I’ve been able to apply this metaphor in different areas of my life and business, and I think it’s a really useful lens to look at the world. Here are some more examples of how I’ve been able to shift things by allowing them to flow.

1. Holding a person’s personality or relationship to a certain standard. I’ve noticed that if I try to make other people be something they aren’t, act a certain way, or try to “mold them” in any way then our relationship begins to crack.

2. Holding on tightly to clients or customers who aren’t a good fit. This just causes both parties to feel that constriction and it can cause repercussions that could have been avoided by letting them go gently.

3. Having strict expectations of my own behavior around food, fitness, and other personal goals. When I approach my plate or my mat with an attitude and intention of play and appreciation, everything flows much more than if I try to “buckle down” and get serious.

What’s Your Take On This Gentle Holding Process?

Have you ever played with this corn starch mixture? Do you think it applies to anything in your life or business?

How can you shift the things you might be holding onto too tightly?

Nathalie Lussier is an award winning digital strategist and co-founder of AmbitionAlly. She’s also the creator of the wildly popular and free 30 Day List Building Challenge. You can find more info on her website or follow her on FB or Twitter.

Image courtesy of Dave Fayram.