If there’s any positive I can take from this pandemic, it’s that the mandatory shifts in behavior have jarred me out of my comfort zone enough to allow me to see missed personal opportunities.
Everywhere I look, there are things I don’t do because of the things I choose to do.
Kris Vallotton shares a story of learning to prune vines in a vineyard when he was much younger, and he reminds us that vines will keep growing and expanding in all directions if left unchecked.
Those new branches won’t bear fruit, though, and the whole vine will produce far fewer grapes, unless you prune off the unnecessary growths.
The vine uses all its energy producing new vines, and the nutrients and energy are wasted on outward expansion instead of fruit production.
You and me, we’re the same way. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WeChat, Email, text, Netflix, mobile games, Amazon, Pinterest, blogging, shopping, schmoozing… there are endless opportunities to occupy our time. Our time and our focus are the limited nutrients we must choose wisely how to use.
If we constantly rush back and forth between this social media app to that, from this game to that streaming video to this selfie, we use that precious time on outward expansion that doesn’t bear fruit.
Pruning is saying no
In this case, pruning is the choice of saying no to distracting activities. You preserve the nutrients of focus and time by pruning off the distractions.
At one point, I had 15 different blogs on the Web. Fifteen! My wife, on the other hand, has only ever had one blog. How often did she add valuable content to her blog? Several times a week. Guess how often all 15 of my blogs were updated with fresh content? Some never made it past week two post-launch.
What I learned is that I am a limited resource. Me. My being, my attention, my effort, my time, and my contribution. These are limited resources. This isn’t like the 90s film Multiplicity where Michael Keaton keeps cloning himself to do more of the daily chores.
There’s only one me. There’s only one you. Every time you say “Yes” to something, you say “No” to everything else. In that moment. YES, I will check my Facebook page. That means NO, I will not be writing a new blog post or optimizing our website. YES I will watch a tv show means NO I will not be reading a book. YES I will try to keep up 15 blogs means NO I will not have one blog that is well-developed and full of rich content.
YES I will binge an entire season of my favorite show on Netflix means NO I will not take an online course that enhances my professional knowledge base.
What will you do with the free time you have available?
I’m not here to tell you what to do with your free time. That decision is entirely yours. No, I’m here to tell you that you are already making that decision every day, but probably not acknowledging it. And acknowledging reality matters because it empowers you to consider making changes that alter the course of your life.