Detach from the outcome

Have you ever obsessively checked your Facebook post to see how many likes you've gotten? I have, especially when I was starting my business page. Instead of being grateful for the people who liked or shared my post, I wondered why more people didn't.

It's exhausting. And totally pointless.

I've learned sometimes you need to detach from the outcome. Stop obsessing. Stop keeping score.

That means doing something and feeling satisfied just for having done it, not focused on the type of feedback or response you get. Here's what that looks like for me:

  • I have a love-hate relationship with sales: I hate cold calls, I love real problem-solving conversations. Business development has been a part of my day job for many years and it's gotten a bit easier now that I realize if someone rejects a proposal - or more commonly, if someone doesn't respond to the follow-up communication they agreed to or requested - they are not rejecting me. People are busy, priorities change. I'll follow up a few more times, but I'm not going to chase people down.

  • If I'm thinking of someone and send them a text to say, "I'm thinking of you," I no longer focus on whether the person gets back to me. I'm pretty methodical about deleting texts (as I love an empty email inbox, I love an empty text whatever-you-call-it). So I send the message and delete it. Then if I do get a response from someone, it's a pleasant surprise instead of an expectation.

  • I used to send out CDs or cards to individuals and wait for the thanks to come in. Um, did I send it for their benefit, or for mine? Now, I put it in the mail and forget about it. As with the texts, if I get a thanks, great, but if not, that's okay too. I've accomplished the goal of doing something nice for someone. And keeping track of whether someone has gotten back to me takes all the fun out of the giving.

  • Enough friends have told me in hindsight, "Hey, I liked that blog post" or "Your Facebook posts make me smile" that I know someone is reading my posts on social media, even if they aren't "liking" it. This has led to me developing a new motto when writing and posting, to help me keep things in perspective: My goal is to inspire, not to earn praise. (So I guess I'm attached to the outcome of inspiration, not praise.)

Of course, detaching from the outcome is sometimes easier said than done. We are hiring at CRS; we recently interviewed four candidates, invited three back for second interviews, and only heard back from one responding to our invitation (and she declined!) A few weeks later, it still bothers me that we never heard back from the other two interviewees. I was definitely attached to the outcome on that one, with all the time we had invested in screening resumes, conducting phone interviews, meeting with people in person, etc. And we really do need to hire someone! But as we continue the search, I'm reminding myself to not take the process too personally.

In what ways do you need to detach from the outcome?

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