The yard makeover continued this weekend with some way overdue pruning of the shrubs in our front yard.  My husband would trim some, and then ask, “How’s that?”.  My response almost every time was “Take off more.” Then, we moved to the front flower bed where the hydrangeas have grown to a height above my head – I know I am not that tall, but seriously, they were out of control.  Once we were done, the pile of clippings on the curb was almost as tall as the hydrangeas were before we cut them! 

Pruning is often viewed as a negative action, but the purpose of pruning is to “increase fruitfulness and growth”.  I put off trimming the shrubs for a couple of years.  That delay in action has impacted the overall growth of these plants. 

As I was having coffee (or, in my case, tea) with a friend this morning, I realized that we often delay pruning in our career lives.  We become so consumed with keeping up with the demands of our daily lives that our career “branches” just keep growing as they always have.  Often it takes a layoff or a failed interview experience for us to take stock of the journey we have been on as we reassess our path forward.  These experiences do create more growth and fruitfulness in our careers but are usually painful processes to go through.

What if we self-pruned instead?  We all want to continue to grow and bear more fruit in our careers; we just need to be more intentional with how we go about doing it.  Self-pruning requires us to pause in our daily routine, to assess what is really helping us on our career path and what is not adding value to where we want to be long-term, and to then courageously prune back our career “branches”.  This self-pruning may look like a lateral move or even a demotion to gain more experience in an area that is a better fit for your long-term plan.  It may look like a career change as you transition towards using your strengths more.    

As we enter the fall season, set aside 30 minutes to sit quietly and reflect on your career.  What self-pruning do you need to do now in order for your life to increase in fruitfulness?  What have you been putting off that may be affecting your overall growth?