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The way you shovel out in a blizzard says a lot about the way you shovel a path through life.


Maybe, maybe not. But it makes for an interesting conversation!

I asked my Facebook friends about this during Winter Storm Grayson shortly after returning from my first round of shoveling. I like to head out in shifts, shoveling while it’s manageable, lighter, and not too deep. But some people like to wait until it’s over and then do it all at once.

Is this a commentary on how we approach life? As of this writing, there were 40 comments on the thread — more than any cute kid or puppy photos I’ve posted.

Shoveling as Life

One friend who’s as intensely interested in self-improvement books as I am joked that now she was questioning what her snow-shoveling approach says about the rest of her life.

Related Reading: 7 Goal-Setting Books That Will Change Your Life

Another friend, who once ad-libbed a family vacation to DisneyWorld, quipped, “Wait we need an approach?” I thought she was teasing but then wasn’t sure.

Others joked about sending out their kids, waiting for the snow to melt, or ignoring it altogether and barreling through it in a Jeep.

Metaphors galore bounded through my head.

Later, I thought back to when I lived in a condo where the president of the condo association was hired to plow the parking lot. Setting aside the nepotism for a moment, I found myself constantly relying on someone else’s effort — or lack thereof — to get anywhere.

I’d shovel my own stoop and around my car, but that was it. I couldn’t go anywhere because I was too reliant on a lazy plower. And it angered me immensely — the half-assed work, the shady circumstances by which he had the contract, the fact I lived in a condo when I wanted a house and a yard.

It was an apt metaphor for my own life at that time, when I was too focused on others’ efforts … or lack thereof. I worked my own tail off, but I was resentful of others who didn’t do the same, and I couldn’t figure out how to get out of my life’s parking space in spite of them.

Related ReadingReaching Potential: Passion, Badasses, and Upper Limit Problems

Redirecting Negative Energy

I still have little to no respect for those who skate through and take the easy route, but I’m doing a better job at taking that energy and instead applying it to my own projects. I’m working on the ol’ redirect. What does that energy power? Does it fuel my resentment or fuel my goals?

What you focus on, grows.

And I grant myself some grace. I’m allowed to get annoyed. Who wouldn’t? But the momentary aggravation is then directed at something else. 

I’ve also physically purged myself of the main sources of that negative energy. I don’t live in that condo anymore, for one thing. And although it’s a temporary rental, I moved on to a house and a yard … and got the dog I always wanted.

Related Reading: Dog Lessons: Gratitude and Intention

So back to the shoveling.

It was blizzard conditions here in Connecticut, and I gleefully found myself at the mercy of no one. These days, I have no expectations that someone else will help out — though when there is a someone else eventually, I will also attempt to temper my expectations. I can only control myself. That’s another story, though I’ll add that, while I obviously can’t control what others do, I do have control over the caliber and work ethic of those I surround myself with. And I can set boundaries.

My Snow-Shoveling Approach

So here’s how I shovel: Round 1, I lay waste to the snow and forge a clear path. I’m cutting in crisp edges and scraping to the pavement. I’m taking pictures of my work.

By Round 2, I find myself taking more breaks. Maybe I’ll let those edges go. It’s just decoration anyway. And what’s the point of scraping to blacktop level if it’s just going to get covered again?

If there is a Round 3, the goal is usually to get in and get out. I’m tired and bored and hey, it’s clear enough for the car to get out of the driveway. And isn’t there hot chocolate and popcorn in the house?

Confession: this has been my life. Gung-ho to start a project, lose a little steam and interest along the way, may or may not be proud of the result.

Perhaps I overestimate how cool the project is and all the awesomeness that can come of it (i.e. we don’t need crisp edges when the goal should just be to clear a path). Perhaps I sometimes tackle the wrong project (i.e. don’t bother killing yourself over the end of the driveway when the plow is going to seal it back up).

And maybe, just maybe, I should give myself credit more often. I had GREAT technique out there. I headed out in two shifts, even when the wind was whipping in my face, and I cleared the driveway without much trouble. Woke up this morning to the neighborhood digging and snow-blowing itself out when I had already finished. By hand.

What do you think? How do you approach snow shoveling? Is it indeed a commentary about your approach to life … or is it just shoveling? Let me know what you think!

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