Self-discovery, one shovelful of snow at a time

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Faith WoodThe sun is shining, even if the air is still frigid, so I’ll take it.

After several days of digging out my huge driveway – 100 metres, to be exact – and coping with drifting snow, even my most optimistic “Shovelling is a great full-body workout strategy” is feeling less than enthusiastic.

I love the snow on the ski hill but like most snow-laden residents in the southern interior of British Columbia, I would prefer it didn’t land in such quantity on my driveway.

Shovelling has given me the gift of time and reflection. As I threw the snow onto my two-metre snow piles on the weekend, it occurred to me that there are a lot of great euphemisms embedded in shovelling snow.

In truth, I was waiting for a saviour and found myself writing articles in my head as a distraction when those rescuers failed to arrive.

Snow throws a lot at us. Our response to it can also be seen in how we navigate the challenges we face when we build a business, write a book, tackle a project or even break a habit. James Clear (author of Atomic Habits) says, “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”

Clearing a 100-metre driveway requires me to rely on a few well-developed systems:

 Use the tools you have and use them effectively.

Every household in snow country needs a large shovel for pushing, a smaller (and lighter) one for throwing and would benefit from a snowblower for those heart-attack-inducing heavy, wet snowfalls.

If you don’t have the heavy equipment at your disposal, then …

Go for small wins first.

Tackle the project in smaller bites. No matter the accumulation, pushing small amounts of snow still gets the job done (and the same is true for your daily tasks).

Attempting to push a heavy load of snow will zap your energy and your motivation fast.

The driveway will sit half complete, mocking you as you stare at it from inside the safety of your home. The snow will keep falling and the piles will grow more daunting and dangerous to cross.

Graciously accept help from others (and be generous in giving it when you can).

Snowstorms can bring out the best in community spirit. When the snowplows add a heavy load of sand and snow to the end of your recently-cleared driveway, having a neighbour with a small quad and blade show up to clear it will make you feel as though you just won the lottery.

Certainly, the snow gets no lighter when many hands pitch in but the collaborative energy will get the job done faster.

Discover the beauty.

When the snow is gently falling, pause and enjoy the artistry and the serenity of it. Conserve your energy for future battles. It’s winter, another storm is inevitable and the beauty of this moment is fleeting. Embrace it.

As you reach for your shovel again this week, may these lessons reverberate in your mind and give you the strength and determination you need to keep the paths clear.

Happy shovelling!

Troy Media columnist Faith Wood is a novelist and professional speaker who focuses on helping groups and individuals navigate conflict, shift perceptions and improve communications. 

© Troy Media

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