Burn Your Boats

As we approach the end of 2020, I am reminded of a famous story from history.

In the year 1519. Hernán Cortés led a large expedition, consisting of 600 Spaniards, 16 or so horses and 11 boats, to Mexico. Their goal was to capture a magnificent treasure said to be held there. Upon arrival, Cortés made history by destroying his ships to send a clear message to his men, that there is no turning back. They either win or they will perish. Within two years, he had succeeded in his conquest of the Aztec empire.

2020 has challenged everyone in various ways. Many people faced health challenges, either from COVID 19, or from a lack of access to healthcare due to the pandemic. Others faced relationship challenges, as they were forced to quarantine with their significant other and realized that they had not really known their partner. A lot of people faced financial challenges either from being laid off, losing their jobs or having to draw from their savings or retirement accounts.

Whatever adversities we all faced in 2020, most people discovered an aspect of their lives which was not working and that, in fact, had been downright dysfunctional. When I bring up the story of Hernán Cortés and how he burned his boats, I am using this as metaphor for our lives.

What aspect of our lives no longer serves us and needs to be ‘burned to the ground,’ and left behind? We all have something that we can point out. It may seem scary at first to contemplate letting something go that has been with you for so long, however, if you discovered this year that it no longer serves you, why do you keep holding on to it??

It may be out of fear of letting go of or comfort with the entity which no longer serves you, however, this is precisely the reason you must burn it to the ground. Not only will you get releasing something that is dragging you down or holding you back, but you will also be creating space for my new thoughts, ideas and inspirations to emerge, which may, otherwise, never have come to light.

Take a good, cold, hard look at your life, decide what no longer serves you and, with a thought, a feeling and a prayer, burn it to the ground in your heart, your mind and your soul. This is a major step towards liberating your life from the shackles of your past, finding serenity and boldly embracing the unknown. It is only outside of your comfort zone that you can grow and evolve, which is why you’re here in the first place, something that most of us have forgotten long ago.

In fact, letting go of what no longer serves you is more important than goal setting, something that a lot people turn to at this time of the year. The reason that most people do not make progress in their new year’s resolutions is because they are still tied down by the shackles of their past, which they have not broken free of to create the space for what they now aspire for.

You can thank the pandemic for bringing you back from illusion to reality and moving towards what truly matters in your life by showing you how to release what no longer does. If you do not heed this call, you risk perishing under the weight of your own self-neglect. The choice is now yours as you stand on the brink of ushering in 2021. Burn your boats and never look back!

Dr. Nauman Naeem.

Leave a Reply