1. You must remove all negative influences from your life
Plucking weeds isn’t just an aesthetic practice to keep your garden clean. It’s an essential practice to keep your fruit-producing plants healthy. Weeds are known to feed off the nutrients in the soil, leaving the plants around them starved and depleted.
You likely have had or still have people in your inner circle that simply drain you. Being around them, you may find yourself wondering, ‘Why do I continue to surround myself with this person?’ Our friends are supposed to make us feel refreshed, energized, happy, inspired and loved.
So here is a rule of thumb: if you continuously feel robbed of your energy after hanging out with one of those “negative” friends, you’ve found yourself a weed. Get rid of them or at the very least, create a safe distance.
2. You need to get to the root of problems
If you want to prevent weeds from growing back, it’s imperative that you pluck the root out of soil. My wrists are truly sore from digging around the roots and twisting and turning until they would come out, but it was all worth it. Hearing the sound of the roots’ tentacles release their grip from the soil was immensely satisfying.
Every problem you face has a root and you need to get to it in order to a) truly understand the challenge at hand, b) solve it effectively, and c) prevent it from arising again at a later point.
To provide a real-life example: When I was diagnosed with cancer, I knew that chemotherapy would only treat the problem on the surface (aka treating symptoms versus treating the cause). The root of cancer was my lifestyle, the things I consumed, the lifestyle choices I made. Making meaningful changes to my diet, work-life balance, and my life perspective was the key to maintaining good health long-term.
3. Consult with others when in doubt
A few times throughout the weeding, my friend and I couldn’t differentiate between a fruit-producing plant and a weed. Turns out, some weeds are really good at disguising themselves. We turned to my father for help. He has had plenty of experience gardening and was able to offer his guidance when in doubt.
Sometimes, we too find ourselves at a crossroad, unsure of which way to go. We may have a difficult time deciding whether someone will have a negative or a positive influence in our lives, or whether a task is worth pursuing or not. It is wise to look within your trusted network of people who may be able to offer assistance. There is a good chance that one of them has been in a similar situation before and you can learn from their experiences. Having said that, we must allow ourselves to be humble enough to ask for help.
And in the event that your friends and family are unable to offer advise, go with your gut. The consequences of making a mistake are usually not as dramatic as we make them out in our heads.
4. Be extra diligent towards the finish line
As we were approaching the finish line of the 40 foot row, I was getting antsy and just wanted to get the job done. I lost focus which resulted in a few sad fruit-producing plants getting plucked, instead of weeds. After the second time this happened, I had a little talk with myself because I truly felt bad about having done so. Focus, I would say, focus.
We are more prone to make mistakes as we get closer to the completion of a task. We focus on the finish line more than the process in order to get there. This is a natural phenomenon as far as I’m concerned, but certainly not an inevitable one. Be conscious of your thoughts and actions, so that you can quickly identify when you’ve stopped being focused on the task at hand and self-correct your behaviour. It will prevent mistakes (which will only delay the completion of the task) from creeping in.
5. Only look back once you have completed your journey
Once in a while, my friend and I would look back at what we had accomplished, but this turned out to be very counterproductive. The act of looking back opened up the gates to a flood of emotions that manifested themselves as doubts, distractions and discouragement. “Why are we moving so slowly? I feel like we haven’t progressed at all.”
It is worthwhile to wait until you have completed your journey before you take the time and reflect. And as you do that, remember that the questions you ask yourself shouldn’t be focused around What should I have done better? — again, this only encourages self-deprecation. Instead, pose the question in a way that acknowledges the efforts you’ve made and can be improved upon in the future. For example, How can I tackle the same task more efficiently next time?
6. Take a break to recharge
Spending all your energy on one task can be exhaustive over time. When my friend and I would find ourselves becoming bored, overwhelmed, discouraged, or straight-up drained, we made a point to take a break. We would focus on another task, whether it was reading or playing a round of cards. Frequent breaks are said to improve one’s mental agility. It worked for us!
You’ve probably noticed that the longer you spend focusing on the same task, the less responsive and agile you become. And that, of course, hurts the quality of your output! Time management techniques such as Pomodoro and Timeboxing help overcome procrastination and create boosts of creativity and focus. Try it for yourself!
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