Don’t Feed The Plant: A Surprising Lesson About Getting Out Of Your Own Way

Last week, I met up with a new friend for coffee. She used to be an editor at a local magazine, but happily told me she had transitioned to full-time freelance work. She was now enjoying the benefits of a flexible schedule, and it meant she could finally focus on some neglected passion projects.

The one downside was that she missed her office — the physical space that signified “this is time to work” as well as her coworkers who kept her positive and motivated.

To try and get her mojo back, she told me she had set up a home office. But there was a problem. In a redecorating frenzy, She had inadvertently left a heavy, potted plant in front of the door. It was challenging to squeeze into the office, and the plant was difficult to move.

Needless to say, she wasn’t getting much done.

When she told me this, we both laughed. In her mind, the plant seemed like a serious obstacle. Once it was out in the open, though, it all so sounded absurd. A plant was preventing her from doing her work.

You might laugh too. But think about it. Is my friend alone?

Or do you have your own “plant” that’s preventing you from taking action?

Maybe you’re a photographer who never starts because you don’t have the right camera — even though an iPhone camera has more than enough megapixels to get you started. Or maybe you’re a writer who can’t get your blog started because you don’t have an audience — even though you have to write first and build the audience second. Or maybe you’ve been trying to lose weight, but you’re struggling because you don’t have the right equipment or can’t afford a gym membership—even though all you need is a pair of shoes to go running and arms to do push ups.

All of the excuses that are trivial when said out loud seem insurmountable in our minds. And each time we make them, we’re feeding the plant. It grows bigger. It gets hungrier. It requires more and more until it eventually consumes us — until we truly believe we cannot work because there’s a plant in front of the door.

I share this story as a testament to the power of the human mind. It’s amazing how easily we become our biggest roadblocks.

But if the human mind is so powerful, can’t it work in our favor as well?

If we move the plant and tell ourselves that it’s time to get back to work, then we start to believe it. We starve the plant. It gets weaker and weaker until it eventually dies. And when the plant is dead, we can accomplish anything.

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