My 7-year-old granddaughter came over early today before the heat and humidity rolled in. Without any prompting from me, Zoe headed to my balcony garden and began deadheading the dianthus.

I’m just learning to garden in this new-to-me climate, but I’ve already discovered that deadheading is my friend. My lavender plant, which seemed ready to give up when all its blooms turned brown, sprang back to life when I snipped off the dead blossoms which were promptly replaced by a new crop of buds.

Novice gardener that I am, I had always assumed that plants were deadheaded simply to remove the unattractive blooms that had completed their life cycle. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

According to a gardening expert, for many plants, deadheading promotes more flowering on the plants  than would occur without such plant care. It’s another fine lesson from the garden that we can transplant to our businesses.

Every ninety days or so (or even every month), take a look at what’s blooming and what’s just hanging on. Are there activities that are more duty than they are joy? Clients who aren’t really a good match? Entire parts of your business that need cutting back?

If you’re haunted by scarcity thinking, this is a challenging thing to do. You’ll start recalling the many times you’ve been told that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

You’ll be tempted to hang on to what you’ve got for fear that letting go will be the beginning of the end of your Joyfully Jobless life.

Poet David Whyte got my attention when he wrote, “Anyone or anything that does not bring you alive is too small for you.” Reminding yourself of that is an excellent way to decide where deadheading is in order.

Consider this. What if deadheading those things you’ve outgrown is actually your way of making room for new growth?  What if getting what you want begins with getting rid of what you don’t want first?

In one of the early chapters of Catherine Ponder’s classic The Dynamic Laws of Prosperity she talks about this very thing (although she doesn’t call it deadheading). She suggests that when we fail to see progress in our lives, it’s often because we haven’t made room for what we truly want.

She writes, “Begin moving the tangible and intangibles out of your life in the faith that you can have what you really want and desire. Often it is difficult to know what you do want until you get rid of what you don’t want.”

Deadheading, as my garden is reminding me, is an on-going process, one that pays visible dividends. In my business, it’s the way to keep evolving ahead.

As Catherine Ponder points out, “It takes bold, daring faith to set it into operation, as well as a sense of adventure and expectation to reap its full benefits.”

Whether it’s a luscious garden or a luscious business that you’re growing, be bold in clearing out that parts that don’t fit. Don’t wait to discover that deadheading really is your friend.


Twenty-two years before the movie Groundhog Day subtly illustrated the boredom of a repetitious life, I set my first goal.

My goal? To never have two years of my life be exactly the same.

Not yet thirty, I had already reached a point where my life was frighteningly predictable. I realized that if I didn’t do something about it, I was going to keep having the same year over and over again until my life came to an end.

Despite growing up in an environment  that frequently warned not to expect  too much in order to avoid disappointment (a classic example of twisted logic), from the moment I heard about goal setting, I became an enthusiastic practitioner.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t terribly successful at accomplishing those early goals. Over time, however, I discovered there was much more to the process than simply wishing for things that I didn’t have.

Here are a few things that have made a positive difference for me.

* The real reward isn’t at the finish line. While visualizing the things you want to accomplish is certainly a fun part of the process, the big prize is what you become by making a commitment to be, do or have something that’s missing from your life.

When we set goals, we’re issuing a challenge to ourselves to stretch, grow and overcome. Keep moving in the direction of your dreams and you’ll grow in ways you can’t imagine at the outset.

* Ink matters. As Patricia T. O’Conner reminds us, “An idea in your head is merely an idle notion. But an idea written down, that’s the beginning of something.”

Every goal setting system I’ve ever studied begins with the admonition to write them down. You don’t have to publish them online (unless you want to) or show them to anyone else, but writing them down is still step one.

* Size matters. Many people fail at their goal setting attempts because they timidly set goals that don’t ignite their imagination. Other times it requires a bit of reframing to get us excited about doing the work.

I just rediscovered that myself.

Because of respiratory problems, I have avoided stairs for several years. When I decided to buy my second floor walkup condo, the stair climbing was an issue, but I thought I could manage.

For the first few weeks, I dragged myself up the stairs, often telling myself that this exercise was good for me. I still arrived at my doorway breathless and cranky.

One day, I realized that the steps weren’t going away and unless I wanted to become a recluse and live on pizza delivery, I needed a different approach.

Now when I arrive at the foot of the stairway, I remind myself, “I’m training for my next trip to Venice” (where stairs are unavoidable). Climbing those stairs is more enticing now that I’ve connected the activity to a more exciting project than just getting the groceries upstairs.

* Beware of deadlines and timelines. Countless projects have been abandoned  because they haven’t come to fruition in the time we anticipated. When that happens, we may be tempted to call our efforts a failure and give up.

But too often what we call failure is simply running out of patience.

While self-imposed deadlines can keep us focused, they need to be treated with caution. After all, how can you predict how long it will take to accomplish something you’ve never done before?

If you’ve ever remodeled a house, you know how ineffective timelines can be. Effective goal setters are more apt to embark on a new endeavor with the attitude of sticking with it for however long it takes.

* Make space for the new. Metaphysical teacher Catherine Ponder introduced me to the idea of creating a vacuum. In Open Your Mind to Prosperity, she writes, “You must get rid of what you don’t want in order to make way for what you do want. Substance does not flow easily into a cluttered, crowded situation. Substance does not flow easily into a cluttered, crowded mind.”

Ironically, letting go of what we don’t want often requires courage. Whether it’s conflicting goals, lack of confidence or a crowded calendar, elimination is an important part of the process.

* Take inventory every  90 days. What’s working? What isn’t? Have your priorities changed? Do you need to make room for a new project or spend more time on an old one? Are you working on things that no longer matter?

Goal setting, after all, calls us to evolve and reinvent. Checking in regularly prevents hanging on to goals that no longer serve the person we’re becoming—and alerts us if we’re settling for the same day over and over and over.

* More tips. There are many good books on goal setting. My favorite is Write It Down, Make It Happen by Henriette Anne Klauser. Whether you’re an experienced goal setter or just a beginner, this belongs in your library.