Permission to Stop

by Amy  - September 15, 2021

I’ve been grappling with some personal decisions over the last few months.

Who isn’t?

This is always true.

There is not a time in a person’s life that is without change or when decisions don’t need to be made.

None of the decisions I’m grappling at the moment with are extreme or overly serious. This is everyday stuff.

Rinse and Repeat

One of the things I’m working to decide is what races do I want to do in the future. That’s a new question for me kind of because I’ve just kind of bounced from start line to finish line — rinse and repeat — since I was about 12.

With the forced pause of the past couple of years I do have a different perspective and I’m enjoying not having races on my calendar.

I’ll write more on that later.

I also am eager to write on some new topics. This website has been very focused on triathlon and endurance sports since its inception.

I actually have some other topics that I’d like to talk about.


Choosing to change directions

Part of the process of making decisions or effecting change in your life can sometimes be to let go or stop doing something that you are doing or that you have done for a long time.

This is a part of the process of change that I think is often neglected or ignored.

We want to pick up a new behavior or even a new identity but we also want to hold onto the old one.

In my experience this rarely works.

Now, this is not always a big problem.

Here’s an example of when it’s not really a big deal.

I have a friend who has not lived in NYC for over 20 years and yet still has the same NY landline number. I know …they still have a landline…crazy. Who does that these days? Ha! Anyway this family still has their NYC phone number even though they no longer live there. It’s one way that they are holding onto being New Yorkers even though they don’t live there.

I get that. I grew up in New York City and I think being a “new yorker” is a fun part of my identity.

Although when I realized I had lived in Miami for 20 years I did finally decide that Miami was my home town and I would no longer claim NYC as my home town.

Not that others need to do that — it’s just what I did.

But for real an example from my own life

I moved my family to the suburbs. I chose a big house and a big yard and the whole thing. But in no way shape or form did I want to be seen as a suburban mom.

I still wanted to be the cool urban person.

Y’all … this did not work. It could have if I decided I wanted to be the suburban mom. I didn’t want that.

I was really unhappy until I allowed myself to stop living in the suburbs.

Here’s a more common example that is often a little more identity related and a little more problematic.

Many women as soon as they see a first grey hair will begin to color their hair. Some women like me colored their hair long before just for fun. The process of coloring your natural hair color to cover the grey hairs is a choice. I respect the choice.

When it’s done to obscure the fact that you are aging that can be problematic because you can’t actually stop the aging process and if you try to pretend that you aren’t aging …well, that’s not reality. This can cause discord in your mind and your well being.

I personally love my grey hairs.

I call my grey hairs my wisdom highlights.

Many women resist the visual changes of age.

  • We color our hair,
  • we botox our skin,
  • we buy very expensive creams and make up,
  • we get major surgery to cover up the signs of aging.

This is a complex situation with a lot of socialization and cultural messaging tied to it. It is tied to a belief that beauty is the same as youth.

If you let that idea go and separate beauty from youth then you may be able to open your viewpoint to include some more options. For example, you may be able to accept that you are not young but you are beautiful. They don’t have to be related.

I call this giving yourself permission to stop.

The reason you would want to give yourself this permission is that to step into your next stage you may need to stop doing what you are doing. Or stop doing what you have been doing.

This is not always true.

It’s not always an absolute rule

. You can do different things at the same time. You can be a parent and also have a professional job. You can do triathlon and love stand up paddle boarding.

It’s not totally black and white.

However, just because you’ve done something before you may not want to continue to do that thing forever. Anybody who has done an indoor workout on a treadmill or a bike trainer has perhaps experienced this … you may want to stop.

Sometimes stopping is easy and sometimes stopping can be a challenge.

If you are unhappy or dissatisfied with what you are doing or the result you are getting it’s usually pretty easy to stop doing that thing.

But I’ve invested so much time

Sometimes you may feel the pull to keep on going just because you have been doing it a long time.

People might stay in a job because you’ve been there a long time. I actually know many people in careers that they don’t enjoy because by the time they figured it out that they didn’t enjoy it they were already graduated.

Or you may keep shopping at a store you don’t like because it’s easy and you know when all the specials are. Or you might keep eating in one pattern because you have always done it that way. Or you may keep doing the same workout because you’ve always done it. I thought of this – today as I was on my indoor bike pedaling away not because I have a race in the future but simply because I’ve done a bike workout in between run workouts for about the last 12 years.

Do I still want to do that workout every week? This is a valid question.

In a very silly way I have been doing this. I want to take up stand up paddle boarding. I want to try rowing and instead every week I am still doing 1-2 indoor bike workouts.

It can happen that holding onto the old way and the old identity can interfere with starting something new.

There is a business quote which is something like: the biggest obstacle to progress is to continue to do things the same way just because that’s how they’ve always been done.

Holding onto old habits … just because

I’ve been doing a lot of talking and writing and thinking about habits lately. When setting up a new habit there is a thread where we work on a new habit being “sticky”. You will keep doing that thing because you’ve been doing it for a while.

That can be good if it aligns with your desired result.

The reverse or opposite can also be true. This shows up when we want to break a habit.

It can also be true if you just want to do something new.

Sometimes in order to do the new thing you have to stop doing the thing you are doing now or the thing you have been doing for a while.

Are there things that you do mostly because you’ve done them for a long time?

Do you want to keep doing them?

Do you still crave the result or goal that results from what you’re doing?

Just keep in mind that you may not NEED to continue.

You can choose to stop.

You can choose to change your mind.

You can change your direction.

You can choose to try something new.

What would you do if you were going to choose to do something new?

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Amy Stone (she/her/hers) is a life coach who helps adults in blended families. She is a mom, step-mom and a step-grandma. Other random fun facts include that She is a 7-time Ironman triathlon finisher and many many marathons and shorter races. She created

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