MAKING ROOM for new growth

by Lori Zahn
March, 2011

pruningRight about now, in late winter/early spring, gardeners are clearing and pruning their gardens to get ready for spring.  They know the importance of cutting out old growth to make room for the new.  We can apply this same wisdom to our personal and professional lives, in how we set goals and go about achieving them.   

Let me share a personal example.  I’d set my sights on climbing all the Colorado “Fourteeners” by the end of 2011.  It had been over a decade since I climbed the last one.  Could I climb them again, including the most challenging technical routes?  I loved the pure challenge of this goal.  I began training and soon noticed that I wasn’t diving into it with the same zeal that I had years ago.  I simply wasn’t giving it the time and attention that was required.  Why not? 


While recovering from a shoulder injury, I came to realize that I had set the wrong goal.  It wasn’t that I needed to climb these peaks again.  I had previously attained that goal in my life, and I relished it.  What is important to me today is to be in the best physical condition I can be, to climb my favorite peaks, and simply enjoy them.  With this new awareness, I knew I needed to recalibrate my goal for a better fit.  So I let go of the outdated challenge goal, set a new one, modified my training, and am well on my way. 


As an executive coach, I work closely with people in the process of personal change.  In the coaching process, developmental goals are set, new practices (embodying new ways of thinking, being and doing) are put into play, and the desired change happens over time.  Along the way, there can be a process of recalibration that occurs - where the original goal is rethought and revised as new learning takes place.  There’s often a need to do some pruning as well – where less important activities that are competing for our time and energy, are pruned away.  We may think we have unlimited time and energy but the truth is we don’t. 


I call this making room for new growth -- and recalibrating and pruning can be valuable steps along the way. (continued...)