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Act with Devotion & Intention, Letting Go of Attachment to Outcome

By Leo Babauta

You’re starting a project or a new exercise plan, and it’s in shaky new territory for you. You feel doubt about whether you can do it, and so you’re tensely doing everything you can to make sure it will turn out the way you hope.

The stress, fear, doubt and tension here all come from an attachment to the outcome, to how things will turn out. We want to lose weight and get fit (the results of the exercise) or be brilliant at our new project and have everyone think we’re wonderful.

But perhaps we could acknowledge that:

But what if the outcome matters? You are supposed to hit an objective of X for your work … don’t you need to focus on the outcome? Well, you should do the actions that are most likely going to get you that outcome … plan out the steps, then do the steps … but as you’re doing each of the steps themselves, you don’t have to be attached to the outcome.

Let’s explore that a bit, see how to do it and why it might be helpful.

Letting Go of Attachment to Outcome

Letting go of our attachment to the outcome is freeing. It helps us to be more present with the doing, the being, the act itself, rather than what might come in the future. It can help us have better relationships, because we’re more focused on the people than the goal. It can help us have a better relationship to ourselves, as we focus on our own well-being and contentment, rather than some external source of possible happiness (spoiler: happiness doesn’t come from external things).

What can you focus on instead of outcome? A few good ideas:

Think about how this might change things for you. If you’re working on a shaky new project, you can let go of how you might want things to turn out, and instead focus on how you want to show up, what is beautiful about the moment, having fun with the effort, playing and being curious, being more loving to yourself and others. This transforms every act, every habit, every project, every moment with others.

Do every act out of devotion and love, with letting go of attachment to the outcome.