Detatch Yourself From Specific Outcomes

“Oh, would that my mind could let fall its dead ideas, as the tree does its withered leaves! And without too many regrets, if possible! Those from which the sap has withdrawn. But, good Lord, what beautiful colors!” – Andre Gide (Journals, 1947)

In “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success,” Deepak Chopra’s Law of Detachment is that in order to acquire anything in the physical universe, you have to relinquish your attachment to it. “This doesn’t mean you have to give up the intention to create your desire,” Chopra explains. “You don’t give up the intention, and you don’t give up the desire. You give up the attachment to the result.”

Attachment, Chopra says, is based on fear and insecurity. It comes from a consciousness that mistakes symbols for value. “Without detachment,” he says, “we are prisoners of helplessness, hopelessness, mundane needs, trivial concerns, quiet desperation, and seriousness — the distinctive features of everyday mediocre existence.”

People seek money, he says, out of a desire for security. “When I have X million dollars, then I’ll be secure. I’ll be financially independent then and I’ll retire. Then I’ll do things I really want to do.”

But it never actually happens, does it? “Those that seek security chase it for a lifetime without ever finding it. Attachment to money will always create insecurity no matter how much money you have in the bank.”

When I think about the rich people I know, I’d have to agree. Many of them, if not most, are very insecure. They worry about losing the money they have. They worry about making less money in the future. They worry about not being able to make as much money later. They worry and they worry.

“Relinquish your attachment to the known,” Chopra advises. “Step into the unknown, and you will step into the field of all possibilities.”

When you attach yourself to a specific financial objective, your “intention gets locked into a rigid mindset, and you lose the fluidity, the creativity, and the spontaneity inherent in the field.”

I’ve found that to be true with setting specific financial goals. They make you feel good while you are setting them and for a while afterward — but in the long run, they just create a great deal of anxiety and frustration. That is true, Chopra would say, if you not only set the goals to numbers, but attach your heart to those numeric outcomes. You can have financial goals, he’d argue, so long as you detach yourself from their specific achievement.

I’d like to make $100,000 this year,” you might tell yourself, “but if it doesn’t happen, I’ll find something just as good as the result of my efforts.”

When you are attached to specific outcomes, you will tend to “force solutions on problems,” Chopra says. And when you do that, you only create new problems. It’s much better to stay open and relaxed about outcomes. Have goals, but don’t make them part of your happiness.

To achieve detachment, Chopra advises three things:

1. Allow yourself goals and intend to achieve them, but don’t attach your heartstrings to their particular achievement. If you want your business to grow by 12% this year, you can write down that goal and tell your people about it. You can set monthly, weekly, and daily objectives to achieve it. And you can work hard and smart to meet those objectives. Do all that but don’t allow yourself to need — emotionally need — the outcome. Only by detaching yourself emotionally from the goal and trusting yourself (and your team) to achieve it or something just as good will you be able to get the most with the least amount of frustration.

2. You can help yourself do the above by accepting uncertainty as an essential aspect of living. At the same time you set your goals, recognize the chance that you may not meet them, and promise yourself that if things turn out differently than expected, you won’t be upset but will welcome the difference as a new and pleasurable challenge.

3. Realize that a mind that is detached emotionally is a stronger mind — one that is much more able to think quickly and creatively and discover a new path, an alternative solution, etc.

[Ed. Note.  Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]
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  • From where I’m sat this seems far more easier said than done. I’m emotionally attached to a financial goal for my new business because I would like to leave my 9-5 and not being able to leave it until my business reaches this goal is stirring up a lot of emotion. I know this isn’t great, but where I’m at right now, I’m having trouble figuring out how to detach emotion from the outcome for sure.

    • Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight! Keep practicing.

    • Darryl

      I think what he is saying is to stop expecting an outcome. In your case stop expecting for your business to be so successful you can quit your regular 9 to 5. Stop waiting for that something to happen and hoping that something will all of sudden come wipe away any uncertainty of your future. Waiting for that one thing to happen will cause you to miss life’s precious moments as they happen. Have faith that your work will pay off and let that trust be a replacement for your emotional ties. Live in the moment rather than wait for something to happen.