"Enjoy life, it has an expiration date." - Zayn Malik
The other day, I went to pour a little milk into my morning coffee and was met with a sour smell.
The milk had expired.
Anyone who enjoys (ahem)...needs their morning cup of joe can relate to the sadness that washed over me as I poured my now tainted coffee down the drain.
I brewed a fresh cup and begrudgingly drank it without milk.
Okay, so I’m being a little overdramatic about my coffee and the expired milk. But, in all seriousness, it did get me thinking about expiration dates.
I’ve had a few things come to a close in my life this month, and I've witnessed the same in loved-ones’ lives.
Expiration dates are normal, natural, and healthy, yet there seems to be an inclination to want to hold on tightly instead of accepting and letting go with grace.
So many of us meet an expiration or ending kicking and screaming and holding on for dear life, trying to extend the time we have, even when what’s ending no longer serves us or has gone bad.
Fear of the unknown, a dislike for change, feelings of failure, and beliefs we’ve built up around what life is “supposed” to look like keep so many of us storing the metaphorical sour milk of our lives indefinitely. Gross.
But, man, can it be difficult to let go!
Our ego does not like to look at the time, resources, effort, heart and soul we’ve put into something and then just let it go. It’s tempting and easy to get attached to the sunken costs of something in our life that’s expired and argue ourselves into holding on.
We tell ourselves, "...just another few days, months...," but those days and months stockpile in the Closet of Sunken Costs.
Paying attention to the sunken costs in our expired life events is akin to drinking that coffee with the bad milk. It will make us sick.
It can be especially difficult to accept an expiration date when doing so symbolizes defeat. Many of us have been raised with ideals that conflict with the expiration date of a job, relationship, friendship, or situation.
As Christine Hassler says in Expectation Hangover, “Having the expectation of forever...puts us at risk for judging ourselves as failing if something ends. Some relationships, jobs, situations come with expiration dates, and when we reach them, it is time to move on.”
When we refuse to allow for expirations in our life, we end up with mental clutter and blocks, preventing us from seeing anew and moving forward.
I’ve got another metaphor for you, in case the milk was turning you off...a gardener has to prune dead, expired leaves off a plant to allow for the growth of new, healthy leaves and buds. If not, the entire plant suffers, sending nutrition (resources) to the unhealthy areas. If left too long, the expired areas will suck the plant dry - killing it. How’s that for dramatic?
Sometimes expiration dates apply to the big things: relationships, jobs, passions, and dreams. Other expiration dates are smaller in scale, showing up in our lifestyle, behaviors, beliefs, and habits (equally as "big" in my book).
I’ve met with the expiration of all of the above.
I’ve had expired relationships that broke my heart but led to a deeper, stronger, more connected love. I’ve had jobs expire, filling me with uncertainty, only to open new doors of opportunity. I had my dream and passion for acting expire (a very tough expiration pill to swallow) which led me to my passion for coaching. Don’t even get me started on the beliefs, habits, and behaviors that have expired in my life, making room for empowering new beliefs and more successful habits and behaviors.
As we near the end of the year, expiration dates seem more relevant than ever. An out-with-the-old, in-with-the-new mentality sets in. Most of us wait until the beginning of the new year to create a long list of resolutions and goals, but how many of us take the time to stop and take a look at what has expired and is no longer serving our lives?
What if, instead of clenching onto the past, we embraced the new beginnings that come with an expiration date?
I’d love to encourage you to look at expiration dates in your life with fresh eyes and a new perspective.
Where in your life are you metaphorically drinking sour milk? What would it look and feel like to throw that nasty milk out?