Just as gardeners look for ways to promote growth in their garden, so, too, do people look for ways to bring more growth into their lives. Repotting is our term for how those who have outgrown the pot or container of their daily lives, are transplanting themselves into a larger growth environment. What happens to a beautiful, flowering plant that outgrows its container? If you don’t repot it, eventually it withers and dies. Our book, Repotting: 10 Steps for Redesigning Your Life shows you how to rejuvenate your life by following our step-by-step process. No matter what your age, stage of life, or circumstances, you can benefit from the repotting process and philosophy. (Take the Repotting Test to see if you're ready for a change.)
Here are 10 ways that to bring more growth into your life as spring approaches:
1. Rethink Your Landscape. Adopting a new perspective is the first step to successful repotting. Just as some plants need a different environment if they are to thrive, you need to start thinking in new ways, too. Ask yourself: What is really important to me? What trade-offs do I need to make to bring more light and meaning into my personal garden? What will bring color to my landscape? For example, if you are constantly traveling for work, but missing important family activities and milestones, you could revisit career/family priorities, and after consulting with colleagues and supervisors, make adjustments to your travel schedule.
2. Realize That Planting Is a Process. Slow down and create time in your schedule to research new avenues for personal growth. Don’t be afraid of empty spaces. A friend of ours who cut back on her schedule immediately filled the open time slots with new activities. Remember to let “fallow beds” lie—don’t fill up your free time until you know what you really want to do.
3. Weed Your Garden. Take a disciplined approach to finding more time in your day for activities that offer opportunities for growth. Make a list of the “must do activities,” then eliminate non-essentials from your day or week. A woman who ran a successful event-planning firm cut back on the number of clients she handled in order to make time in her life for painting classes and choral singing—two long-lost passions.
4. Let in More Light. Your true gifts may be languishing for lack of sun. In order to grow and change, you’ll need to open your mind to new possibilities, set goals that challenge you, and take some risks. A lawyer we talked to was offered a partnership in her firm. Instead of following the safe path she had pursued, she opened up to explore a completely different lifestyle--that of becoming a pastry chef. Ultimately she quit her job, giving up financial security in favor of a less constraining life.
5. Tend Your Garden Regularly. Whatever you choose to undertake—whether it’s building a new career, volunteering, or pursuing a new hobby—do something on a daily basis to make progress. Be fully committed, so that distractions won’t take your energy away from the tasks necessary to achieve your goal. A woman who wanted to use her spare time to do personal writing found herself distracted by TV programs--until she decided to unplug the set from Friday to Monday.
6. Cultivate Your Dreams. To repot successfully, you need to let your mind run free to entertain new concepts, ideas and avenues. Unleash your creative side by visualizing a new future for yourself. A mother of four, who had spent 20 years raising children, allowed herself to visualize a new identity. In the process of helping an exchange student living in her home, she discovered a talent for counseling troubled youth. She allowed her imagination to take her beyond her current role of stay-at-home mother to that of a therapist for adolescents.
7. Water Your Roots. Find the core values that motivate you. Make sure the life you are living is in sync with your deepest values and priorities. If not, see what you can do to realign it. Let’s say you feel the lack of spirituality in your life, but aren’t sure how to find it. For two of our repotters, the answer to spiritual fulfillment lay in serving non-profit community organizations. Two others, however, took a religious path: one started a Bible study group, and the other entered seminary and was later ordained.
8. Don’t Forget Fertilizer. When you expand your knowledge, you expand your options. For personal growth, ongoing learning is crucial. You can seek self-enrichment in a variety of ways and venues, whether to pursue a hobby or gain new credentials for a career. The stimulation of learning fosters new growth and change—and acquiring knowledge and skills can happen at any age. A middle-aged stock market analyst decided to go back to school for an M.B.A. so that she could start an entrepreneurial venture with her grown daughter.
9. Plant a Sample Bed. Until you try a plant in your own personal garden, you won’t know for sure if the conditions are right for growth. If they’re not, you can always rip it out and start again. Embrace trial and error. A woman running her own real estate appraisal company took training to see if she would like to become a massage therapist. While she enjoyed the nurturing aspect of this profession, she realized she couldn’t do it fulltime. She continues to run her company and sees massage clients on weekends.
10. Get Input from Other Gardeners. Tap into your network—family members, friends and colleagues—who may be able to give you feedback, advice, information and emotional support along your journey. As you benefit from the advice of others, you may also find that you’re helping someone else along the way. Among the many blessings of repotting are the social relationships you build along the way. An accountant we met wanted to change fields. She consulted her family, professional friends, and people who had known her throughout her life. This research reconnected her with long-lost friends, deepening current friendships and building new, rewarding relationships in her new field.