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Don’t Limit with Goals & Anti-Goals: Treat Your Work/Career/Life Like a Garden Instead

BESIf you follow me over at Instagram, you know I’m kind of a flower nut. I grew up in gardens – my mom is a gardener, and both of my grandmothers were gardeners too, one of which had a farm. I was reminded of gardening again when I read the post which the gurus are touting around the internet, about the importance of setting anti-goals. But, I have a bit of a problem with that idea, in that it doesn’t quite hit the mark for me as a career coach in an ideal state.

I’ve always been a cheerleader of writing down your goals. I do it once a year, as a habit, and then carry them around with me. I LOVE checking them off when they are accomplished, which in turn gives me some free mental space to think ahead to future goals too. It’s a great habit!

What I believe the writers of the linked article above are focused on is ensuring your day is NOT filled with stuff you hate. Important, yes, but again where I have a problem with it is that it focuses a little too heavily on what you don’t want, and sometimes focusing on what you don’t want can reverse, in that it takes your eyes off of your goals and sometimes puts the icky stuff front and center in your life, rather than the stuff you actually love and care about instead. You attract what you focus on.

This is where I return to the garden, which I still think is the best analogy for living your best life, career path, or day. Like a garden to a gardener, I think you should focus both on what you love–water, care for, and nurture your goals and/or best stuff. But, I also think you should spend a little time on what you don’t love – and weeding that stuff out of your day/life/career. Weed out the icky stuff. Also, are there items in your career garden overgrown? Meaning–is it time to cut back, or move on to another area of your life? Do a little trimming if you’re over extended and burned out, maybe?

Much like our lives, gardens can get over grown with stuff that consumes us and causes burnout. (In my current garden, there is a battle between daisies and Black Eyed Susan in the picture above – another analogy – which do you want more of and less of, or do you prefer a balance?) I also think of my career in seasons too – much like a garden. What season are you in with your day job, or side gigs, or non-profit work, and/or is it time for a change?

Your garden is your life/career/work palette. Don’t just think of it as a list of “love” and “hate” – I think that’s way too simple an analogy for a best life. Sometimes, there are surprises in your career or life you never expected that pop up too, and what if they don’t make it to your love and hate lists? You could miss out on something amazing just thinking bi-modally.

I’ve said my peace. Whatever analogy you use for your work/career/life, I hope most important that it works for you – whether that’s a love/hate list, a garden, or something else in between.

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Erin Albert is a career coach, pharmacist, entrepreneur, community builder, writer and hack gardener.

P.S. It’s World Photo Day today! – Get out and take a pic or two – maybe of your garden?

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