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Is it time for some weeding?

How to re-energize by subtracting, not adding, to your life

Photo: Stas Ovsky

The other day, I was out in the garden pulling what seemed to be an endless amount of weeds.

While we were away, our garden was a bit neglected. Weeds had sprung up all over the walkway and patio. The place was a wreck!

Though once I put my gloves on and headed outside, it only took a few hours of easy labor to restore order.

Meanwhile, our tiny lawn hasn’t fared as well. It’s literally being choked by weeds. Weeds that, when you trim them down, look enough like grass that they’re hardly noticeable. But visible or not, they’re still there, preventing healthy growth.

Weeding– eliminating what is distracting or detrimental in our lives– is critically important to creating a life that feels healthy, inspiring, vibrant and fulfilling.

When does weeding matter most? When you’re setting big goals. When you’re making a significant change in your life or your work.

It’s hard to focus on the new when your mind and schedule are chock-full of the old. Or worse, full of things that are actually keeping you from moving forward.

Yet that’s exactly what many of us try to do. I often see people approaching goal setting and life/work transitions with lists of what they need to add. New habits. New routines. New plans of action. New commitments. They stuff their schedules and to-do lists with more, more, more.

I’ve done it, too. Most of us have done some version of this. But sooner or later (usually sooner), it backfires.

This is how wellness and self-care goals get lost in the shuffle of busy schedules and competing demands. It’s how creative projects never get off the ground.

It’s how you never really get around to revising that resume and leaving the draining job for one that challenges and motivates you.

It’s how you settle for almost-good-enough and less than what you truly want and need. More is where overwhelm starts and what leads many people to throw in the towel. More makes everything harder.

Nearly always, what you subtract is more important – and more effective– than what you add.

If you’re feeling stuck, overwhelmed or frustrated in any area of your life, it’s probably time to do a little weeding. If you’re excited about a new challenge or a new job, weeding is going to help, too.

Here are a few questions to get you started:

What do you believe that is keeping you from creating what you want in the area of your life that is calling your attention?

What are the thoughts that are crowding out your optimism or peace of mind?

Is there clutter in your physical environment that feels like it’s weighing you down?

What areas of your physical environment don’t mesh with your goals or vision?

What’s contributing to your mental clutter or lack of focus on what matters to you?

What are you putting into your consciousness– reading, television, social engagements, conversations – that is distracting you or having a negative effect?

Are your relationships supportive of your values, goals and vision?

Are you collapsing under the weight of trying to do too much?

Where are you not able to be who or how you want to be?

Where I’m weeding right now

One of the places I look first when weeding is my schedule. It’s a powerful place to create space (and the one that often brings up the most resistance). After coaching many clients through this exercise over the years, I’m certain that most of us can cut back on our scheduled commitments. I’m doing that this year so that I can focus on the most important things.

I’m also weeding in the areas of goals. This year, I’ve set a small handful of intentions for my work, home and wellness. I’ve decided that this is the year of doing a few things well– and focusing on them happily and mindfully.

My last area for weeding right now is being even more choosy about what I’m letting in. That means focusing my attention on love and positive action, not fear or noise. Fine-tuning my nutrition and making time to be quiet and unplugged.

I’m reading journalism that I respect rather than keeping up with all the news. I’m participating in constructive conversations about things that matter to me. I’m spending much less time on anything that isn’t clearly connected to my values or priorities. I’m not trying to stay on top of everything because I know that’s an un-winnable game.

Over to you…

Is it time to do a little (or a lot of) intentional weeding in your life so that you can create the lifestyle you crave or the work that fulfills you?

Do you need to clear space so that you feel inspired and able to make the contributions that are important to you?

If so, I’d love to hear about it.

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