It sounds counterproductive, right?
But the truth is that often the best way to gain more of something important–like time, money, or friends–you have to cut something out.
Feels harsh, but it works, every time.
And it’s proven every day in the garden.
A gardener knows that the best way to make something grow is to prune, regularly and often.
Pruning has nothing to do with what happens when you fall asleep in the bathtub.
It’s simply the act of trimming back anything that’s getting in the way of new growth.
Or, cutting off what’s dead and no longer healthy.
To tend your garden with care, you have to have courage and prune.
Same holds true with our lives.
The Relentless Art of Pruning: How to Grow More Time, Money & Friends
1. Prune Your Time
If I had a dollar for each time my coaching clients wished for more time in their lives, I’d be a gabillionare.
But since we can’t magically generate an extra day in the week, we’ve got to be relentless and prune some of the ways we use our time. A few starting ideas:
Cut out a meeting (or several).
One of my clients recently took a new leadership role, and has uncovered a pattern of meeting mania–gatherings that made sense once upon a time, but that are probably not needed.
Can you relate?
Which meetings do you regularly attend that you should trim back, or cut out entirely?
Cut the busy work.
Know how you make your biggest impact and how you bring your superpowers to work.
For the work you’re doing that’s not in your superpower space, start saying no (here’s help).
Cut the chord.
Are you using TV, or is TV using you? How many hours of your week are spent watching TV?
And how’s that helping you?
I gave mine up three years ago and haven’t regretted it–here’s my story.
Cut out surfing.
I’m all for following your curiosity.
But it’s so easy to lose hours of your life chasing a story down the internet rabbit hole.
Don’t kid yourself that “it’s all learning,” because the truth is you’ll never know it all.
Set a timer and surf guilt-free until time’s up, then move on.
Cut out social media.
A coaching client of mine is experimenting with a 30-day Facebook detox. She deactivated her account, turning off the spigot of new info coming in.
If you get anxious when you see all the lovely, perfect lives everyone seems to be having on Facebook, perhaps its time to give social media a rest. You can turn your account back on at any time if you can’t live without it.
2. Prune Your Money
Money isn’t really about money–it’s about what that money buys for us.
Perhaps that’s future freedom, like it is for my coaching client who’s considering opening her own business. Or perhaps that’s peace of mind, like my client who’s actively planning for travel in his retirement.
When you’re pruning your money habits, focus on the bigger value you’re gaining instead of what’s going away. Here are a few places to begin:
Prune online shopping.
Don’t get me wrong–I LOVE Amazon, especially the Prime service and the practically-immediate access I get to products, delivered right to my door.
But the convenience also can add up to higher spending–fast.
Consider a strategy to slow you down–such removing your credit card number from the vendor’s saved memory.
By the time you find it and type it in, you’ll have time to reconsider whether the item is really worth the spend.
Cut the chord–again.
I’m not a cable hater, but trimming your TV bills (or eliminating them altogether) can save you more than time.
For me, it was about $1000/year.
Add up what you’re paying for at-home entertainment in a year, and ask whether it’s worth it when you think about your goals of more freedom, security, or peace of mind in the future.
Cut not knowing what’s spent when.
The other day, I got a text from my credit card about a $100+ automated charge being made to my account.
I knew I’d cancelled the service, and so the text prompted me to call and resolve it immediately. Otherwise, I would likely have missed it.
Most banks and credit card companies allow you to set up a text or email alert when a charge is made to your account.
Alerts are powerful ticklers to make those ongoing charges (hello, Hulu! I see you, Audible!) even more visible.
3. Prune Your Relationships
The hardest step of all is to trim the parts of our lives that involve people.
But it’s the one that generates the most growth.
A few ways to prune when it’s people:
Cut an expectation.
What’s the one activity that someone in your life expects you to do that you dread?
It may be a monthly night out, community event or family dinner that fit you once but isn’t a match for who you are anymore.
Cut the energy vampires.
Who’s in your life who just drains you?
Perhaps they’re overly requiring, needy, or otherwise problematic. If it’s a boss, family member or coworker who you just can’t avoid, think about how you can trim back your exposure to them.
Alternatively, maybe it’s time for a tough but honest conversation about what you’re observing and how it’s impacting you.
Sometimes the vampires don’t know how much they suck.
Cut the negativity.
The most important relationship in your life is the one you have with yourself. So what are the messages you’re telling yourself?
If they’re filled with negativity, criticism or fear, take a minute to remember what you control–and it’s a lot.
Okay, I’ve Pruned–What Now?
Like any good gardener, now, you wait.
Keep tending yourself–your garden–with care, compassion, and courage.
New buds of opportunity will form with the new time you have available. The thing you want money for–freedom, peace of mind, security, etc.–will continue to grow.
And you’ll have more room to tend to the best relationships in your life since you’re not distracted by the ones that aren’t working for you.
YOUR TURN: How have YOU pruned something in your life to grow your time, money, or friendships? This is by no means an exhaustive list. Email me and tell me your stories and suggestions.
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