5 Signs It’s Time To Let Go

by Aileen

“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the life that is waiting for us.
— Joseph Campbell

I’ve not yet met a single person who hasn’t had a dream in their heart at one time or another. I haven’t met anyone who hasn’t held on to a desire. I have seen some achieve their dreams and desires, I’ve seen some let go and I’ve seen some hold on when they should have let ago a long time ago. I’ve also been in each one of those realities.

For many, many years, there was a hand made poster on my bedroom wall. This poster lived with me in Martha’s Vineyard, Fall River Massachusetts, New York City, Amsterdam and Los Angeles. Whenever I moved, it came with me. One day I saw the message differently and now my handmade poster is in a memory box stored away. It had this quote from Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables:
They daringly pursue their road. See them aloft, see them in the distance; they are but black specks. On they go. The road is uneven, its difficulties constant. At each step a wall, at each step a trap. As they rise the cold increases. They must make their ladder, cut the ice and walk on it, hewing the steps in haste. A storm is raging. Nevertheless they go forward in their madness. The air becomes difficult to breathe. The abyss yawns below them. Some fall. Others stop and retrace their steps; there is a sad weariness. The bold ones continue. They are eyed by the eagles; the lightning plays about them: the hurricane is furious. No matter, they persevere.

At one time, I saw the quote as strong, bold and courageous. Now I see how it celebrates struggle in the name of perseverance. The dangerous part of that is that we can become so attached to the pursuit that we become myopic and we may persevere to our own detriment.

Perseverance can appear noble and at the same time, we can let it blind us from seeing other more fulfilling opportunities.

If you are feeling torn about holding on or letting go, take a look at the signs perhaps they will give you some clarity.

5 Signs

1. When it becomes abusive or unhealthy – Sometimes a relationship turns into or becomes physically or psychologically harmful. Sometimes the pursuit of a dream can bring you into poverty, hunger or alienate your loved ones.

About ten years ago a few of my friends and I decided to try a Multi-Level Marketing program to earn extra money. About a month into it, when it wasn’t working out, all but one let it go. The one friend kept going to the high-energy meetings and in our eyes became brainwashed by the possibility of making unlimited income. Each time one of his customers canceled, he saw money come out of his bank account and his bank account went negative. Over time we watched him loose everything. We couldn’t get him to stop, not after he had his car repossessed, not after the credit cards were maxed out, not after his girlfriend left him nothing would stop him. He relentlessly pursued.

2. When nothing yields – When nothing seems to be happening and everything is a dead-end. Nothing is lining up, no synchronicity. It’s as though the universe is telling you no but you are still struggling and trying so hard that you can’t hear that the answer might be no.

3. If it consistently gives you more pain than joy – Perhaps in the beginning it gave you a great deal of joy and it was exciting, but now it just hurts you more often than not.

4. When the passion is gone – You feel yourself just going through the motions, pretending you’re still wanting the dream yet knowing the feeling is gone.  An example of this is when you show up to your beloved hobby as if it’s a job you don’t like.

5. When you feel you’ve invested so much time and or energy that you can’t walk away – Your investment now imprisons you and you’re not staying with it for any other reason than you feel you can’t leave. This can happen when you’re committed to a business that you’ve started, or any other major endeavor.


“All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.
— Havelock Ellis

Sometimes it’s about transforming rather than letting go. If it continues to give you joy there may be away to transform the dream into another form. It took a long time and a great deal of heartache before I chose performing to be my hobby and end my professional pursuit, but when I allowed that transformation to finally take place, I felt so free.

There is great value in holding on and relentlessly pursuing our dreams, but there are also times to let go or transform.

What positive transformations have you had after letting go?

photo credit Bombardier

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Manal June 29, 2010


This is a wonderful and peaceful insight. Letting go can be one of the hardest things, especially in societies that overemphasize perseverance and equate letting go with failing.

I personally would rather fail and be at peace than persevere and suffer.

I did let go of a pain in the ass and pocket business a few years back. The experience was brilliant but it became such a financial, physical and emotional burden. The hardest part was to fully invest in the decision. Once that was done, the rest took care of itself.

Thank you for this post. I hope everyone who is struggling gets to read it.
Manal´s last [type] ..How to Find Peace in Times of Adversity


Aileen June 29, 2010

deciding to fully invest or stay on the fence – I’ve been there many, many times. It is pretty amazing how much easier it is after we fully commit to letting go. There have been times I wondered why I took so long, it was ‘easy’ after it was done and so liberating. Our society does overemphasize perseverance and letting go as failing – finding our balance between knowing when to work hard and invest ourselves and when not to


Katie June 29, 2010

Wow, two great posts in one day. Aileen, you are on fire. I love this post. It is a great reflection on our life journeys as being, not one path, one struggle, but a series of attempts, changes, shifts and letting gos. It gives me ease somehow to know that it is natural to let go some paths to pursue others. I am definitely moving away from my film making career and towards a blogging one, but I think the two will always be tied and there are movies I still hope to make, but I can let go for now. Thanks Aileen. This was a lovely written post.
Katie´s last [type] ..Soul Searching- Week 6 of the 7-Week Life Cleanse


Angela Artemis June 29, 2010

I read your comment and just had to comment. I was at NYU pursuing an MA in screenwriting….and after some personal re-evaluating dropped out. I realized that I loved to inspire and motivate and that I’d thought only moving images on the screen would do that. I now realize that it’s the writing that I truly enjoy and see as my vehicle to motivate and inspire. We do change as we go through the process of life – but it’s all good!
Angela Artemis´s last [type] ..Moving Day has Arrived


Aileen June 29, 2010

how incredible to allow yourself to move away from film making. It’s much, much harder to walk away when one has had success, you are boldly honoring your passions WOW!


Angela Artemis June 29, 2010

This is a truly inspired post! I’m so there with you on every word.

It’s okay to have one dream and then decide it’s not for you. I did that, not once, but several times. When I was younger I thought I wanted to be a great novelist, but then after 5 years of running a writer’s group I realized that at heart I am a journalist. And before that there was my gung ho jump into screenwriting and pursuit of my Ma, but that wasn’t for me either (as you can see above). I know lots of my friends laugh at me and think I’m always doing wacky things, but I don’t care. I have to keep readjusting the road map of where I’m going until I reach the “right” destination.

Thanks for your wonderful words of wisdom.
Angela Artemis´s last [type] ..Never Miss an Opportunity Again- Learn To Listen to Your Intuition


Aileen June 29, 2010

Angela, I give you a standing ovation for this: “I have to keep read­just­ing the road map of where I’m going until I reach the “right” destination.” This gives you a life well lived, the widths and depths and nuances.


Chania Girl June 29, 2010

Aileen, this is a fantastic post. You’ve written it so beautifully, so clearly, and with such precision. I applaud you for exploring a subject that many of us on the road to our dreams think about … but which is not always addressed by those encouraging us to “live our dreams.”

There is a fine line between persevering and growing through the natural obstacles we may encounter, and blindly pursuing what may have become simply the wrong, wrong road.

I have nothing to add to what you’ve said because you’ve covered it. Really. But I love this, and I’m going to go Tweet it now.

Hope you’re still feeling encouraged about where you are right now, as well. xx
Chania Girl´s last [type] ..The Joy List 27 June 2010


Aileen June 29, 2010

In pursuing our dreams, sometimes we need to check in and see if it’s still our dream. I am encouraged about where I am and the dreams I’m pursuing. There have been profound transitions and a great deal of letting go in recent times, it feels courageous. My enthusiast is high and I’m not completely clear about career but all is well and I trust it.


Clearly Composed June 29, 2010

Really great blog today! I think pride and ego keep us from following our hearts and cutting our losses. To many, it’s a form of failure and defeat. You have to be able to see the gifts that come with letting go and believe in them more than your pride believes in holding on. When I let go of my acting pursuits I found so many other interests that I never had time to discover and develop because my life revolved around theater almost exclusively for so long.

Thanks so much for sharing this. You do have a way with words!! :)
Clearly Composed´s last [type] .. Ten Ways to Guarantee You Will Hold On To A Grudge


Aileen June 29, 2010

“When I let go of my act­ing pur­suits I found so many other inter­ests that I never had time to dis­cover and develop because my life revolved around the­ater almost exclu­sively for so long.” – wow, those words could have come out of my mouth verbatim. My world was the theatre for a very long time and life wasn’t so rounded. To follow our hearts we must listen and be willing to cut out losses – absolutely!!


Priscilla June 29, 2010

THANK you so much for this Aileen!

I am doing alot of re-examining (a convo with your bro will let you know more… ) and I REALLY NEEDED to read this. I love you! I appreciate you! and I am inspired by you!


Aileen June 29, 2010

Priscilla, I glad this resonated with you. Thank you for your compliment.


Jean Sarauer June 30, 2010

I’ve let go of jobs, dreams, relationships, and projects at various points in my life. It used to be hard for me because I came from a culture where this was seen as, ‘quitting.’ Well, technically, yes it is quitting when you stop doing something. But if the thing you’re doing no longer fulfills you, isn’t in line with your values, or just seems boring then what on earth is the point of continuing?
Jean Sarauer´s last [type] ..What Lil’ Wayne Can Teach You About Marketing Your Blog


Aileen June 30, 2010

it is quitting, you’re right and I too have a hard time with that notion. I come from a mind set of ‘never give up’ – but it’s true what’s the point when it’s not the ‘right’ thing to do anymore


Louise June 30, 2010

“To dream the impossible dream…” And as you said, “to follow our hearts we must listen and be willing to cut our losses…” BUT – SO OFTEN IF WE DO LISTEN CLEARLY TO OUR HEARTS we see other roads open to us with a brighter tomorrow. Thus often we find and live our true dream.

Thanks you for your beautiful posts.


Aileen July 6, 2010

thank you for words of wisdom :)


kimmie July 7, 2010

As you well know, my path to happiness was a very long hard road and in truth, a lot of it was not letting goor accepting what was bad or wrong. I am so glad i have purged all the bad in my life so that my boys lives will be happy and filled with love. Thank you for your thoughts and words of inspiration. LOVE you!!!


Aileen July 8, 2010

Kimmie you are fantastic inspiration. Yes, your road to happiness has been a long and loaded with detours – you know you, yourself actually remind me of part of a poem called “the invitation” by Oriah. Have you read it?


Cory Chu-Keenan July 8, 2010


You are a great writer!

Letting go is hard to do. Childhood dreams are the hardest, but part of being an adult is self-acceptance. I’ve definitely had my Hollywood dreams and watched as they dissolved in the LA traffic, smog, and plastic people.

The dreaming isn’t what dies. What changes is what we dream about and how.

Keep writing!!! :)


Aileen July 8, 2010

thank you for your thoughtful comment, “The dream­ing isn’t what dies. What changes is what we dream about and how. ” Yes childhood dreams are the hardest to let go since we carried them for so long and filled them with all kinds of wishes, hopes and belief. The childhood dreams seem to carry an unguarded love and un-jaded hopes – that innocence is powerful and letting go of those dreams , …we feel it that deeply.


Jane Rochelle July 8, 2010

This is a beautiful post, Aileen. I read it last week, and am just now getting back for a comment. Our relationships and commitments dwell so deeply in our hearts that its hard to let go…for fear that something will be lost, things will be worse, that we’ll wind up being unhappy with the outcome.

As my friend Matt quoted in one of my recent posts ‘We can’t be what we were and who we want to be.’ I’ve been thinking of that almost every day, during these times of trust and not knowing.

Thanks for your beautiful writing. Although I don’t often have a chance to comment, I love reading your posts, and appreciate the loving intentions you pour into them.

Jane Rochelle´s last [type] ..Wishcasting Wednesday- What Do You Wish for Your Relationships


ashok July 13, 2010

I can’t say I’ve always been the best at “letting go” – in fact, one could easily say that my efforts to promote the blog are some kind of derangement.

I will say that I am dealing with a lot of people in their 30’s that really, really don’t know how to let go in terms of relationships. They’ve got some “love is forever” idea that we all had when we were younger, but are sticking to it like as if it is the ultimate truth. Your five signs are an excellent starting point for some of them: they really should be asking what is healthy, and who they want to be outside the realm of disappointment. I’ve bookmarked this post and will share appropriately.
ashok´s last [type] ..Emily Dickinson- “It is an honorable Thought” 946


naturelove July 15, 2010

Hi WOW great insights and information! I understand many of the issues here Right now I am feeling quite burned, lonely and tired. Everything and I do honestly say everything changes aas we get older..
I work many hours and am exhausted when I return and have family obligations as well an elderly parent I know I am burned but must go on I have to continue to survive. I love the outdoors it does always offer a sanctuary and a place of refuge and peace, camping is a great refresher as is Kayaking and fishing, hiking… I am trying to find ways to find others with whom I can share some of these great outdoors experiences I enjoy them but they can be enhanced when shared with mutually appreciative friends. Safety is always a factor today and trust me WE ALL MUST be AWARE of that!


kimmie July 17, 2010

No, I have not read it. I will have to read it :)


Paul Strobl July 20, 2010

Great post!

I let go of much of the protracted American dream. I have an expensive MBA and let go of becoming Joe Corporate by letting go of the belief in pain now prosper later. Then I let go of the unhealthy meaning I placed on money. A new world has opened up to me as an entrepreneur who only pursues things I am passionate about. I dropped 70 pounds, I live simply sharing a 10-year old gas-sipping car, and focus on what’s truly important, not what the Jones’ think. I wake up excited and without dread. It’s amazing what is possible when you let go of things that aren’t yours and are taking up space in your head!

I have never heard of Kaizen. Looking forward to future posts!


Aileen July 20, 2010

Hi Paul, thank you for stopping by & thank you for your thoughtful comment! yes, it is amazing what is possible when we let go of things that are negatively taking up head space. You’ve had great accomplishments :) thank you for the inspiration


emily August 3, 2010

I felt I had to let go of my whole world when I was about to become a mother. I felt my career was threatened, my freedom, my relationships, It was a hard transformation for me. I let go of somethings but not all, and I transformed and gained so much more then I would have ever imagined. My children are constantly teaching me, reminding me, thanking me, and showing me what it means to really live in a moment. To fully appreciate this life, to look closer and move slower. Thank you for your thoughtful post. Letting go is hard, it is suppose to be, but the transformation that awaits can be magnificent.


Aileen August 5, 2010

thank you for these words “but the trans­for­ma­tion that awaits can be magnificent.”


Jt Clough | Big Island Dog March 11, 2012

I moved to Hawaii 11 months ago. To do that I had to give up a lot of things. A home, a business and all the personal items I was carrying around for so many years.

After giving those up and living here for a awhile I also realized I was holding on to relationships and things that really were holding me back. I would have never found that out had I not put myself in a position where I gave up the things I as was holding on to so tightly.

A lesson I’m glad I took on. And a lesson I need to keep remembering and a great one to get out to encourage more people to do. Mahalo for your thoughts here.
Jt Clough | Big Island Dog´s last [type] ..Attention Cleanse


Aileen March 23, 2012

How wonderful! How wonderful that you took that risk, you dared, you ventured into the great unknown and left your world & material things behind. And how amazing that in the process you discovered some relationships that needed to be let go of as well.

I wish you all blessings on your continued adventure!


Noah February 13, 2014

The blog width can be adjusted up to 100 pixels with sidebars adjustable from 100 to 500 pixels. Blogs had one main advantage ‘ they were written by eyewitnesses and people having deep knowledge in specialized issues.


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