Repotting a Root Bound Plant

“Repotting a plant gives it space to grow. Repotting ourselves means taking leave of our everyday environments and walking into unfamiliar territory—of the heart, of the mind and of the spirit.”
- Heather Cochran, The Return of Jonah Grey

Any experienced gardener knows that while a potted plant may flourish with the correct amount of light, water and nutrients,  after some time it will outgrow its pot. When a plant is ready to be moved into a bigger pot, the roots are restricted, growing in a tight coil or ball – a problem which gardeners refer to as “root bound”. Since root bound plants rarely meet their potential for growth and success in terms of flowering or producing fruit, the gardener will ensure that when their plant is ready for a bigger pot, it is repotted.

In our own lives, we can apply the idea of “repotting” when we feel that we become “root bound”.  Leaving your old pot behind means leaving your comfort zone and moving into a new environment and while this presents challenges, it also allows us to grow, change and learn.

Susan’s story offers an example of how repotting paved the way for new growth in her life. To friends, family and colleagues she appeared to be successful – working in a busy newspaper office and writing a regular column for women. However, after several years of giving her job everything she could, Susan began to feel empty and constricted by the demands of her career. What was right for her when she started work no longer seemed to ring true with her hopes, dreams and ideals. The solution for Susan was to first consider what changes she needed to make to reawaken her passion for life, then to look at ways to implement them. Susan might decide to change her career direction by following her lifelong wish to write a book, or look for ways to work her way further up the career ladder.

As a coach, you can help to prepare a client who needs to repot their life by helping them to identify areas which have become stale and in need of growth space.  In many cases, a client may not realise that they are ready for the next step, held back by fears, beliefs or self esteem issues, and if these are not resolved the client will take these “herbicides” to the next pot (life situation). A coach is responsible for helping the client to work through the options available to them, so that they can decide on the best course of action to take. Your task is to help the client build a clear picture of where they are in their life and create a greater understanding of how to achieve their goals by -

  • Offering support as they make life changing decisions, and helping them to find ways to adapt to the new issues they will face when they move into a new environment.
  • Identify areas where growth is constricted by remaining in a limiting situation, and encouraging the client to find ways to take steps towards change.
  • Helping clients to decide which situations warrant making changes, and which situations need further consideration before taking action.

[Coaching Questions]

  • In which areas of your life do you feel “root bound”?
  • What challenges and opportunities does changing to a bigger “pot” entail for you?
  • How do you see yourself within one month and one year of making room for growth in your life? Are you closer to your goals?
  • What do you need to do to prepare physically, mentally and emotionally for the next step in your life?
  • What are your motivations for making changes in your life?
  • How will making changes in your life empower you?
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