Why A Full Life Isn't Enough
By Trevor Hill

Most of us aim for full life. We'd
like it packed 100% with good
things to give us a sense of fulfillment.

But even when things are not really
fulfilling, we tend to pack them in anyway - better
full than not. In fact
we rather pity someone who has an 'empty life' and we hope they
discover a way to fill it.

This outlook misses a crucial point -- if
our lives are full, there is no room for anything

For the past eleven years, a strip
of my garden had been left to itself. It always grew a
great crop of nettles
and hogweed. Each winter it died back and then repeated the
performance each spring.

This year I have mowed it from the earliest growth onwards. Sure, there are still some
nettles, but alongside them there are a variety of plants that, amazingly, were not there
before. Simply cutting the growth every few weeks has changed the harvest.

There is a clear analogy here with the general observation on life -- 'if you do what
you've always done, you'll get what you've always got'. For fresh results, do
something different and see what flowers.

If we want to grow beyond where we are now, both personally and professionally,
we need to make room.

Think of a forest planted for timber. The saplings are first positioned near each other to
encourage them to grow straight. After a few years there comes a time for thinning,
when the forester fells some trees to give the others more room to develop. At intervals
during the life of the trees, more thinning will take place to allow the forest to reach
full maturity.

In winter travels in the countryside, you may have seen a traditionally laid hedge. This
harsh pruning is the best way to rejuvenate it. Even when an old trunk has been cut off
at ground level - just a stump - it will make fresh youthful growth in the spring.

There is an amusing side to this ability of nature. In many areas of waste ground and
alongside railway tracks, there are buddleia bushes -- very popular with butterflies.
Land owners see the plants as weeds and send men to cut them down. The thing is that
the pruning stimulates even more growth!

The recognition that sometimes we need to make room in our lives has spawned a
service industry of de-clutterers. They will help you 'prune' your domestic
environment, and some offer a similar service for offices.

The scope for pruning goes well beyond our physical environment. For example, we
may have goals that have passed their sell-by date. They have been part of our mental
landscape for some time and have played their part in shaping our lives up to this
point. But now they are a distraction, perhaps even an irritation which we no longer

We can liberate ourselves by trimming out-dated goals, making room for new,
inspiring ones.

Similarly we may have dreams that no longer serve us. They were once the beacon that
guided our life and helped in choosing goals. Now they reflect 'who we were' rather
than 'who we are' and it is time to let them go.

Some relationships can choke our growth. A healthy relationship works by mutual
benefit so if our own development is stifled it is time to make changes. We can review
the time and energy we put into the relationship. Perhaps those precious resources
would be better spent differently. We can look for other ways to influence the
relationship towards a better balance. We may even look for closure and move on.

However busy and successful we are, we can create some space, a degree of
emptiness for new growth.

Pruning cuts down competing influences that smother fresh shoots. When we have the
courage to prune, the pile of 'cuttings' are not seen as 'what might have been', but the
inspiring step towards 'what can be'.

About the author: Trevor Hill works with groups and individuals who want to make their work
worthwhile and satisfying. As a qualified coach, he guides and supports them while they boost
their motivation and reinvigorate their working lives. He believes that as we spend a major part of
our lives at work, we should aim to get the most from it. Trevor publishes free inspiration tips
every fortnight -- simply sign up at

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