Feeling Overwhelmed? Try 'Pruning' Your Projects
June 14, 2019
Have you pruned your projects lately?
I started thinking about this last week when I was pruning rose bushes. In case you’ve never done it, pruning plants is more art than it is science. It requires you to consider both the growth that’s on the plant at the same time that you think about how you want the plant to grow. Each limb, each fork, and each new bud requires examination and intuition-based decisions.
It’s always a bittersweet process for me. I don’t like pruning the new growth that is already there, but I know that with a gentle trim, the plant will flourish better than if it just grew wild. Trimming the right growth causes the plant to divert its precious life energy to the growth that will bring the best blossoms.
How similar we are in the projects and commitments we grow.
Every new project and commitment requires the time and focus that is our creative life energy, and, at a certain point, the upkeep on them is such that it’s hard to get any one of them to blossom.
Instead of remarkable products and budding relationships, we end up with projects continually half-done, friends/family/clients half-satisfied, and experiences half-lived. Twenty buds that never got the nourishment they needed never outshines the ten blossoms that did.
Unfortunately, we do not have the gentle gardener that comes through and delicately trims our projects and commitments so that we grow the way we could. Instead, the sometimes harsh storms of time, money, and stress force us to pare down what we’re trying to do, and all too often the growth that helps us flourish is the first growth to be broken by the winds–we respond and fix urgent crises and are left with so little energy for the important stuff that those things never get a chance to grow.
Here are ways to get started with your pruning.
Revisit Your January Goals
Whether you’ve written those January goals down somewhere or just have them stored in your memory, take a moment to travel back to the cold of winter and think about the goals you set then.
Reflect on them by asking yourself these questions:
●︎ How have I worked towards these goals in the months since I set them?
●︎ What goals do I still want to work on?
●︎ Which goals don’t fit my current needs right now?
●︎ What have I learned from tackling these goals and how can that inform any future goals I set?
Taking time to process all that you’ve worked towards can help you reevaluate whether or not you want to redirect your attention towards new prospects.
Write It Out
There’s a lot of power in writing out your goals—or in this case, perhaps rewriting them.
Research shows that taking pen to paper (or typing it out on your phone) is strongly associated with successful goals. This is thanks to two different things happening in your brain when you write: external storage (aka putting thoughts into something you can easily access) and encoding. As reported in Forbes, writing supports the encoding process—which is a part of our memory process.
By writing down your new goals or how you’ve processed your old goals, you’re able to remember them better—and that’s key to working on them.
Change Your Definition of ‘Success’
Throwing out what doesn’t serve you anymore can be scary.
Sometimes it can feel like when we do that, we’re failing. But the truth is, by pruning and eliminating what doesn’t serve us, we’re actually honoring our time—not failing. Consider pruning another way of setting boundaries with yourself.
Take this opportunity to redirect any energy you have been putting into goals that might not be your priority anymore. Regardless of whether or not you see your goal through, you’re successful for having tried it and learned from it. Using those learnings and putting them towards dreams you want to accomplish now will help you grow more powerfully, too.
We’ve had a few months to see which of our New Year’s Resolutions or ideals have made progress and which have not. The mere possibility of the summer is now here. It’s time for us to choose what major things we will grow this year, in the sun.
A version of this article originally appeared on Productive Flourishing.
Today’s recommended meditation: