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10 Ways to Let Go of the Hustle and Surrender to the Flow

“You can’t control everything. Sometimes you just need to relax and have faith that things will work out. Let go a little and just let life happen.” ~Kody Keplinger

I have always been an overachiever: straight As, the top of my class; whatever I endeavored, I aimed to be the best at it. I strived through high school, college, graduate school, and in the corporate world.

My hard work came with awards, accolades, and the feeling of accomplishment. But it also came with burnout, exhaustion, and the feeling of never being good enough.

Once I achieved a goal, I was happy for a minute. But my next thought would inevitably be, “There must be more to life than this.”

Even though it didn’t feel good, I repeated this pattern of strive + achieve + repeat at every level in my life, until I had an epiphany.

It happened a few years ago when I traveled to Bali for a yoga retreat. While exploring the small third-world island, I noticed the locals with modest homes tending their fields, or running their local shop. One thing stood out: They all seemed incredibly happy—or at the very least, content—with their lives.

This struck me for a couple reasons. For one, they didn’t live lavish lifestyles or have big houses or fancy cars. They weren’t climbing any corporate ladder or angling for a big promotion.

But this didn’t matter. They appeared to be present, at peace, and enjoying the simple things that life offered.

What a stark contrast this sentiment and lifestyle was with the one I just traveled from. Despite their lack of first world luxuries, these people seemed to have something we Americans (and I) didn’t: happiness, peace, and a sense of “enough.”

I started to question my own desire for striving, for perfection. I wondered if all my efforts were actually keeping me away from the peace and acceptance I desired most. It seemed like a vicious cycle.

After I left Bali, I kept this idea of “maybe it’s okay not to strive” in my head. And instead of embracing my perfectionist tendencies, I started to consider another way.

Throughout the years since my trip, I haven’t totally abandoned my high-achieving ways (though I’m still working on it). But I’m now able to see that there is a time to strive and a time to let go. A time to make things happen and a time to allow things to happen.

And, perhaps even more importantly, I learned that you can’t necessarily strive your way to happiness. In fact, it’s often the path of surrendering, accepting, and being at peace with where you are that truly helps you tap into that sense of contentment and ease.

So if you find yourself over-efforting, working hard, toiling without any respite, it may be time to explore the opposite path: surrender. When you surrender, you invite life to flow as it will and you roll with the current instead of fighting to swim upstream.

When you surrender to the flow, you open yourself to possibilities instead of forcing opportunities that might not be right. You embrace and honor where you are, without worrying about where you need to be.

When you notice yourself striving but feel like what you really desire is peace, these ten steps help you to let go of the hustle and embrace the flow.

1. Trust yourself.

Cultivating trust in yourself is by far one of the most grounding and stabilizing forces you can experience. Trusting yourself means that you know what’s best for you. In order to trust yourself, you must stop looking outside of yourself for guidance and start looking inside. Even as you seek advice or answers, always run it by your inner barometer to see if it truly resonates with you.

2. Know that you already have the answer.

Your answer might be blocked by fear and resistance. But when you find a way to put aside those fears, you can tap into what your intuition is telling you. Know that the answer already resides within you, even if it’s not clear at this moment.

One way to get better acquainted with your intuition is to ask yourself what your gut is telling you. Over time, the more self-aware you become, the easier it will be to hear the voice of your intuition.

3. Recognize that what you want to achieve is already within you.

In order to have conceived a dream, you must already have created somewhere in your mind. When we desire something, we imagine it in great detail, and feel what it would be like to experience it. The simple fact that you’ve seen or imagined that vision for yourself means that the outcome is possible for you. Believing that you can—and will—bring this vision to life is the key to receiving it.

4. Embrace the resistance.

Resistance comes to us in the form of fear, self-doubt, procrastination, and other roadblocks. It shows up in our lives when we are at the precipice of doing something important and meaningful to us.

When you recognize resistance as a sign that you’re about to do something big, you can learn to embrace it as the powerful messenger it is. Instead of letting it debilitate you, you can see resistance as a sign that illuminates where you must go.

5. Trust the process.  

The path to your desired destination may be a winding road and not a straight line. It might even have some cutbacks and hills involved. But you won’t get to where you want to go unless you’ve first learned the lessons from the present.

Play the hand you’ve been dealt and trust that this is all part of your journey. There is something in your experience right now that is critical in helping you to become the person you need to be to move to the next level.

6. Let it go.

When we have a dream or a wish for ourselves, we can become very attached to it, and guard it preciously. You conceived your vision and believe in it. Now you can release it and be free from it.

This doesn’t mean you don’t take any action, but it means you’re not holding so tightly to your vision that you worry about taking only the perfect action. Set your vision free into the universe and trust it will happen in its own time.

7. Seek joy.

Remember to play and enjoy the process. “Life is what happens when we’re making other plans,” John Lennon said. When you feel yourself waiting, overthinking, indulging feelings of doubt, take this as an opportunity to seek out what makes you feel good. Ask yourself what would make you happiest in any moment, and go do that. Seek activities that you fill you up. Wash, rinse, repeat.

8. Take inspired action.

Inspired action means action from a place of feeling pulled toward something, inspired by something, and from a place of “want.” This is directly opposed to taking action from a place of pushing, striving, or a place of “should.” Follow the pull, not the push. Don’t worry about what you or others think you “should” be doing. Explore what you feel called to, and let yourself be guided by your inspiration.

9. Tap into your intuition along the way.

If (when), along the way, you feel disheartened or discouraged, impatient or impotent, anxious or depressed, simply press the “PAUSE” button and take a big, long, deep cleansing breath. This is the perfect time to turn back inward and listen to your intuition: your built-in, always-available inner guide. What is your intuition telling you? What do you need to know right now?

10. Let the universe support you.

Sometimes it’s not a matter of making things happen, but a matter of letting things happen. Instead of mucking around in the road, get out of your own way. Sit down on the path and open up to receiving what is meant for you.

When you stop striving and start surrendering, you will see the infinite possibilities and opportunities that exist in every moment. You’ll tune in to the frequency of the universe, and she’ll show you the way.

Throughout our lives, there will be periods to achieve and periods to receive. Once you tap into your own self-awareness, you can recognize what pattern you’re currently in, and whether or not it’s serving you. If you’ve been striving for too long, it might be time to surrender to the flow.

Remember that surrendering is not quitting. It’s honoring yourself where you are at this moment in time, and allowing what you want to catch up with you. It’s taking time out for yourself and reflecting on what’s important. So that once the time to strive comes back around (which it will!), you will be supported with the energy, the purpose, and the guidance you need to move forward.

About Stacey Hagen

Stacey Hagen is a coach and consultant who helps entrepreneurial women discover and develop lives and businesses they love. She is an avid traveler, adventurer, and life-long learner whose mission is to inspire and empower other women to live their lives full out. You can visit her at createcoachingconsulting.com and contact her at stacey@createcoachingconsulting.com.

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  • Rima

    What to do when you have no intuition, or no touch with your intuition, no contact with it and don t know how to be in touch with it? I tried yoga, meditation, eft, and don t seem to reach that intuition everyone talks about!

  • anne

    I think calling Bali third world is a bit too much. Isn’t one of the richest province in Indonesia?

  • Meenakshi Chaudhary

    This is one of the most beautiful articles I’ve ever read on the importance of surrendering to the flow. I’ve lately been reading a lot on this subject but you have explained it so well in such simple language that I could easily connect with each word written by you. Thanks a lot Stacey for these wonderful words. You really made my day. I wish you the best of everything in life and lots of love, good health and happiness forever.

  • Stacey

    Hi Rima! Everyone has intuition, we are born with it. If you feel you have lost touch with it, practice simply being aware of your thoughts at any given time. For example, right now, you can stop what you’re doing, and ask yourself: What am I thinking? How am I feeling? You can do this in meditation, but you can also do it anytime. When you start tuning into yourself more, you’ll start hearing the voice of your intuition. Also pay attention to any gut instincts or gut feelings you have; that may also be your intuition telling you something.

  • Stacey

    Hi Anne, I went to Bali years ago, but I believe now Indonesia is considered a “developing” country. Despite it’s economic growth, the gap between the poor and the rich is quite large. This is apparent even on islands like Bali.

  • Stacey

    Hi Meenakshi! I’m so happy you found this piece useful and easy to connect to. I very much appreciate your comment and wish you the best as well. – Stacey

  • Judith JayGun Gundry

    Hi Stacey
    Your piece on surrender calmed my entire inner being.
    As I read I could actually feel my tension level softening and my anxiety melting – why be resistant to the surge of life when it’s going to happen anyway?
    This in turn made me notice what’s around me already and see opportunities that are already in front of my face rather than pushing the present away and trying to live in some non existent situation I think would be somehow better.
    It all seems connected: be an observer, roll along and enjoy the ride, live in the present, appreciate today and what’s right there right now, don’t resist the rhythm – dance with it, not against it.
    I’m very interested to look at some more of your articles.
    Thank you Stacey!
    Best wishes
    Judith

  • Carl LaFong

    One great book on the subject of going with the flow is, ‘Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’. He also has a Ted talk on the subject.

  • Stacey

    Yes – that is a wonderful resource!

  • Stacey

    Hi Judith,
    Thank you very much for your comment. I love that you actually felt your tension and anxiety melting away. So true what you said: why be resistant when it’s going to happen anyway. All the same, it’s often easier said than done. I agree with you that it is all connected and when you truly feel “in the flow” of life, you’ll often find all of those things are happening at once. Wishing you all the best! – Stacey

  • raine b

    Thank you so much this was so helpful in every way I’m the luckiest person alive ;_;

  • Thank you for this beautiful reminder.

  • This is very inspiring. I am glad I happened upon it today. Thank you for helping others learn to let go of that hustle that we all tend to get wrapped up in and just let life flow! Beautifully written.

  • Judith JayGun Gundry

    Thank you Stacey and the best to you as well. “Go with the flow” is written on my iPad home page ?

  • rt

    Wonderful article Stacey. I totally understand about “surrendering” and “resisting” but when one has been waiting for so many years for change it makes it harder. But not impossible! One just keeps going,hoping, until things change. It’s about us helping ourselves to have less suffering and less pain along our journey.

  • Lauren Moira

    Very inspirational! Thanks for a great article.

  • Stacey Hagen

    Hi RT, thanks for your comment. I understand the need and want for change, but if you can find a way to be in the present moment, and allow things to happen as they will, you can access that sense of peace much easier and faster than you would if you waited for a particular outcome. It’s through the process that we surrender; not an end result. I hope that helps.

  • Charles Cummings

    I had a similar ‘waking up’ experience when I visited Cuba last year – the locals had so much less than me but seemed to be living more joyous, generous lives than me and my peers in Washington, DC. Your post really resonated with me. Thank you for sharing!