If You Want to Thrive, You Have to Pull Weeds

How long has it been since you took time to think about the important things you want in your life?  I'm not necessarily talking about bucket list-type items.  I mean, will your life really be dramatically poorer if you never go skydiving, or if you don't make it to the Taj Mahal or Machu Picchu?

What do you desire that really will make an important difference to your life?  What are your true priorities?  The dictionary definition of priority is "something given or meriting attention before competing alternatives."  You decide what that means for you.  It might include your education, your marriage, your children, your career, your friendships, your spiritual life, your health, your financial stability, developing your talents, or something else.  Maybe it does mean a trip to Machu Picchu!

Here's another important question:  Why do so many of us just seem to drift through life?  Maybe we've given some thought to our true priorities, yet we still get up and go to work or school without any real excitement, get through the day without accomplishing much, drive home, and fall on the couch to spend the rest of the evening scrolling through social media or binge-watching Netflix.  Maybe we spend all weekend watching TV sports, shopping, and cleaning the house, yard, cars, or garage.

abandoned, overgrown house

Life weeds

This kind of life reminds me of a garden choked by weeds, or an orchard that hasn't been pruned.  Neither is capable of reaching its potential harvest because too much is in the way, stealing light, nutrients, and vitality.

What are life weeds?  They are all of the unwanted things that creep in and take root.  Before we know it, they have crowded out the things that actually matter.  Life weeds start small and go unnoticed, but they take decision and effort to root out.  We all struggle with one or more of these:

  • Junk mail
  • Junk email
  • Junk food
  • Too many clothes to wash, iron, fold, and store
  • Too much social media
  • Too much passive entertainment
  • Too many toys
  • Too many gadgets 
  • Too many knickknacks
  • Paperwork
  • Events and obligations we should have said no to
  • Negative relationships
  • Comparison and competition
  • Debt
  • Stuff.  Stuff.  More stuff.  Too much stuff.

Life weeds compete with the things that matter, consuming time, energy, money, space, freedom, purpose.  Life weeds, like real weeds, will make our lives futile and unfruitful.  

Maybe you don't think too many shoes, too much time on social media, too many home projects, or an overbooked calendar is robbing your life of its potential – but you might be wrong.  Those things might be stealing your vitality, the same way a weed grows along with a plant and steals the space, light, and water that would otherwise go to that plant.

Some weeds look a lot like plants.  They might be good things, but if they are choking the life out of the things that matter most, then they are weeds.  That upgraded gadget, that fancier vehicle, that extra activity – they might be fine in and of themselves, unless they're keeping you from something more important.

If you want your plants to thrive, you have to pull the weeds.

It's a big job, but it gets easier.

Some weeds are harder to pull than others.  Don't start with those.  Start with the ones that are small and easy to pull.  The duplicates.  The freebies.  The torn, stained, broken, and outgrown.  The gifts you never liked.  The extra commitments you dread, or that have left you burnt-out.

Stop feeding the weeds.  Say no.  Shop less.  Recycle stuff, donate stuff, sell stuff.

With practice, it becomes easier to identify what's important.  Eventually, the weeds that looked so similar to plants will look entirely different.  You'll get better at removing the stuff that doesn't belong.  You'll find the clarity and courage to weed out the tough stuff.

I've pulled weeds in the past, one by one.  But weeds have a way of coming back, so it's a job I had to keep on top of.  Every day, I had to trade extraneous stuff or obligations for space in my life.  I had to give the important things room to grow.  And eventually those priorities overtook the weeds, and weeding was no longer such a constant chore.

Yes, it takes work.  But your fruitful life is absolutely worth the effort.

Related article: Let Your Garden Grow

Updated July 2023


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