Want to change and grow? Be like a tree
Do you want to make a change of direction in your life or career? Been made redundant and wondering what’s next? You can learn a lot from trees.
As a nature lover let me explain. Of course, I’m using a tree as a metaphor, so I’m not telling you to stay in one place, be a bed for birds, attract insects and give off oxygen. Though if you fancy that then we all need all the help we can get.
What I’m talking about are six aspects to being tree-like that are useful actions for you to take in life. So don’t be a nut, sow a seed for a new you. Pack your trunk. Leaf the old you behind; branch out and bark up the right tree. Enough tree puns? Then let’s crack on.
1. Grow in the right place
Different trees grow in different environments. Over your life, you’ll have been in situations where you’ve thrived, and others where you’ve wilted. Think about what the right environment is for you to grow.
2. Build strong roots
Trees make deep roots, so make sure the basics are in place for you: food, shelter and water. It’s difficult to feel inspired to change or grow if you are hungry or cold. Put your energy into making your roots strong.
Included in this is surrounding yourself with others who support you. You can withstand higher winds if you are part of a forest rather than a lone tree. Who are those people in your life who are your cheerleaders? And of course conversely, who are those nay-sayers, those people who suck the joy and energy out of you that you need to let go of and stop listening to?
3. Strengthen your core
Trees build a strong trunk, however, they are not rigid. They are designed to flex with the wind. What do you need in your life to make it strong? Where in your life do you need to make some flexibility?
Tree trunks also have growth rings. They grow each year, again flexibly. A good year will make for a larger wider ring; a poor year narrower and more condensed. Look for where you can grow each year. What can you learn? What can you build on? But be mindful of the tree rings. If you are having a rough time, a bad year, a bad month, stick to your best to move forward and grow, just allow that growth to not be as big as planned. Be kind to yourself.
4. Branch out
Trees of course grow branches. They don’t put all their energy into one single branch. How odd would that look? In terms of ‘you’, what branches do you need to grow? What options do you want to test?
5. Let go when the time is right
Allow yourself the luxury of being able to fail. Think about it: a tree with plenty of branches may come up against a barrier of some sort. It will either stop growing that branch or maybe even just redirect it. Where do you need to stop doing things? Where might you be wasting your energy? Where does one of your branches need to change direction?
Also, if a tree branch breaks it will heal the wound and let the deadwood fall. What is your equivalent of deadwood? Let it go (I won’t break into song I promise, though I’ll bet some of you thought of it!).
6. Allow yourself downtime to recover and then come back new
Trees shut down for winter, they don’t waste energy when they don’t have to. They shut down and come back renewed later. Sometimes we all need time out. Time to stop pushing, fighting and trying to move forward. Sometimes we need to be kind to ourselves again, allow some downtime so we can start again with more energy and focus. Like the tree, is there a certain time of year where you just aren’t at your best? If so be patient. Give yourself permission to slow down, re-energise so you're ready to go when the time is better.
Any of this ringing true for you? If so then this is where coaching can step in. A coach can be your horticulturalist. They can help you explore what branches you need, what environment is best to put down your roots in, how to be more flexible, and of course, how to let go of that unwanted deadwood.