I spent an afternoon last week cleaning out my closet. It was high time I did. I had shirts, pants, shoes, and hats that I had not worn in months—in some cases, years. When I thought about it after, the whole experience became a kind of a metaphor for improvement.
It occurred to me that if we want more of what we want, we have to get rid of what we don’t want. It’s the necessary but sometimes painful process called pruning.
Lighten Those Closets
I was happy to lighten the load but pruning even clothes can be hard for some people. We might think “That shirt holds sentimental value!” or “I’ll fit in those pants again, soon,” or “That jacket will come back in style, right?” So we have a hard time letting go of them.
And it’s even more difficult to get rid of habits, projects, and even in some cases relationships that are no longer doing anything good for us.
But remember that what is true in our closets is true of so much else in life: We fill up all the existing spaces pretty quick. Until we let it go of some of that “stuff,” we don’t have room for anything else.
In other words, sometimes our short-sighted attachment to what we have is what’s holding us back from growing. Thus, pruning is necessary.
Your Pruning Challenge
That it’s necessary never means it’s easy. You can see what you have, not what you don’t have, so it can seem like you’re giving up something for nothing.
This is the challenge of pruning. It requires faith—and perhaps even more fundamental, a mindset of abundance. The truth that you have to keep reminding yourself of is there’s much more where that came from.
Here are three steps for how to prune now, and thrive after:
1. Identify What Is No Longer Serving You
Some things were useful at one time but no longer serve to help you now. Other things, well, you thought they would be useful, but that never panned out. You kept them around out of habit or the hope that they would be useful one day.
Now is a good time to take stock. Ask yourself, “Is this still of any use to me?” and answer honestly. Items on the pruning block could include an old shirt, a pair of pants, smoking, or even a difficult, unprofitable client. Figure out what you need to cut back on in your business and life.
2. Get Rid of It, Even if You Don’t Have a Replacement
This is the faith part of the equation. You have to let go of the things you have now to make room for things that you trust will come later. Have a garage sale or take those things to Goodwill, make that difficult phone call, or begin the steps to kick unproductive habits.
When you want to second guess yourself, remember that you already decided that these things hold no value to you. By getting rid of them, in most cases, you’re letting other people who might find them more valuable acquire them, and everybody ends up better off.
3. Identify What You Want, and Go for It
Now, unencumbered, you have the space, the time, or the energy to devote to getting what you truly want. Be intentional, be prudent, but by all means go out and get them.
Always wanted to prospect for more clients? You have the time now that you don’t have to deal with the draining ones. Want that jacket? Now you have room for it. Have in itch to garden? Put raised beds where your never-used badminton set used to be.
Prune, Prune Again
When I go through the pruning process in my life, I usually end up thinking that I only wish I had done it sooner. Getting rid of the things I didn’t need has made room for so many things I truly needed.