6 Ways to Thrive in Your Professional Life by Using Detachment

August 30, 2022

Let’s start with a quick point on what detachment/non-attachment is (they are interchangeable in their meanings insofar as Eastern philosophy is concerned). It’s about detaching from outcomes and a perceived need to control anything other than our perception of events. It’s accepting that everything, including ourselves, is impermanent, constantly changing and will cease to exist one day. It is also about not being attached to things – be they material goods, a business or a timeline – to achieve a goal. No one is saying that owning or enjoying things is inherently wrong but when they start to own us, then it becomes a problem. One thing to strive for is to start to think about every aspect of our life as a dance, or a song. Something with no purpose other than enjoyment of the moment, with no rush, deadline or finish line. Check out these 6 ways that we can actually thrive in our professional life by working on detachment

1) Detachment allows you to leave your ego at the door and recognize that we’re not attempting to overcome or battle the obstacles in our way but achieve a flow state, the way water does when it comes up to an obstacle. Become only what the situation needs, not simply a bigger and bigger wrecking ball.  The goal should never be to beat life, but to BE life.

2) When we eliminate desire of outcome from the equation and simply accept that we will put in what effort needs to be done (and then actually put the work in), we are able to enjoy the process so much more. We know that no matter what, we did what we felt needed to be done and if the entire situation tanks, we will learn so many valuable lessons and come back stronger and wiser.

3) Detachment shows us that we will always do what it is we’re meant to do, even if we don’t like the ramifications. If we are living with intention and following the basic tenet of treating others the way we would like to be treated ourselves, we are doing what we are meant to do. Every misstep, every perceived error is what was meant to happen. Alan Watts has a great example for this concept. “You have to regard yourself as a cloud, in the flesh. Because you see, clouds never make mistakes. Did you ever see a cloud that is misshapen? Did you ever see a badly designed wave? No, they always do the right thing. But if you would treat yourself for a while as a cloud or wave, and realize you can’t make a mistake, whatever you do, cause even if you do something that seems to be totally disastrous, it will all come out in the wash somehow or other.”

4) Detachment causes us to have more accountability. When we are detached from the outcome we own our involvement and our ego doesn’t block our ability to see the situation with logic and clarity. Whatever happens either gets us closer to our goal, or we learn what doesn’t work or what not to do, which still gets us closer to our goal! Thomas Edison showed his awareness of the importance of being detached to any particular attempt with his response to a reporter who asked Mr. Edison about how many times he failed in the pursuit of a working electric light bulb. He said “I didn’t fail 1000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1000 steps.”

We really start to grow when we start trusting the universe and stop feeling sorry for ourselves. These are the building blocks to start owning and accepting all aspects of our life.

5) Detachment allows us to deal with the people on our team with candour. When we’re able to harness detachment, we stop trying to engineer responses or please those around us. That doesn’t mean that we stop supporting the people we care about and help them reach their goals. We are able to realize though, that wins without losses take away the context of appreciation, and make for fragile people and a team that’s scared to try new things or shoot for the moon. If we are scared to fail or can’t take criticism, the team will be doomed to underwhelming results which will hinder our business and personal growth as well.  We need to be able to tell members of our team when they aren’t meeting our expectations. Detachment even helps if we have to let someone go, either because they’re not able to do what we need them to or, worse, they’re bringing toxicity to the group. Detachment allows us to realize that if we let them go, it’s not good or bad, it’s just an event. If they don’t fit well in our team it’s now up to them to find the team that does fit them. If no team fits them, maybe they’re meant for a lone wolf path. It’s not for us to decide. We need to respect everyone’s right to define their own path.

6) Detachment allows us to keep our ego and emotions from occupying the driver’s seat when it comes to relationships as well. The need to assign a good, bad, or somewhere-in-between value to everyone that we deal with is a toxic mindset. When it comes to people, they are who they are. We need to accept them and either give them a wide berth or invite them to get closer. We only squander energy when we get upset or frustrated with someone. If they’re narcissistic, then that is who they are. Moreover, they learned to be that way from outside influences. Often from parents who had grown up themselves in a toxic home. Generational pain is worthy of sympathy, not anger. Detachment leads to compassion for others, which will always be a key factor in maintaining good mental health. Letting people take a foothold in our minds is a zero gain energy sink. We work too hard to let ourselves be distracted or frustrated when we could be following our passion or practicing our self-care.

It’s a simple concept that can take a lifetime to master, but as the senior monk said to one of the young monks, the best time to plant an oak tree would have been 40 years ago, the second best time is right now. The same goes for working on detachment. Start today, allow yourself the peace and serenity that comes with accepting that control of anything but what goes on in our head is a fools errand. This leaves us so much more energy to focus on our own path without unnecessary worry and fear.


  1. Anonymous September 8, 2022 at 8:09 am - Reply

    Very thought provoking

  2. Jo September 21, 2022 at 8:15 pm - Reply

    Interesting point of view on using detachment/non-attachment with your professional life. I’ve found this approach to be effective in my professional and personal life. It’s truly freeing to be present and compassionate.

    • Kelly September 21, 2022 at 10:21 pm - Reply

      Thank you for taking the time to visit and share your thoughts. I appreciate your input and totally agree that once we start to figure out detachment it just makes the day to day flow so much better!

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