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Where do I start?

Where do I start is so often the first thought when we want to make changes in our life. 

It can be overwhelming when there is so much information, so many ideas, and competing approaches.

Instead of being productive we end up paralysed, which increases stress, overwhelm and feelings of guilt.

Nature has several important lessons when we’re in this situation:

  • Work from yourself outwards – make sure your roots and trunk are strong before worrying about your branches and leaves.  This means prioritising some time for self-care and personal growth and then when you are feeling more grounded, move on to helping others.  (in practice these can happen alongside each other but the priority must be on the self-care element).

  • Choose productive, not paralysing.  Trees don’t like paralysing, so ditch those feelings of ‘fear of failure’ or ‘fear of success’ and give something a go.

  • Slow and small solutions – start small and slow and reward yourself for each action you take.  Reward ‘success’ and ‘failure’, all evolution is an opportunity for learning if we can free ourselves from the judgement, blame and shame.

  • Embrace uncertainty. Let go of the need to know how things will turn out.  The mindset of the 20th century was one of control and dominance (which turned out to be a load of dangerous rubbish), but the 21st century ‘living systems’ mindset requires us to step into the unknown and unknowing. Once we look at life as a set of connections rather than a set of elements (people and things), we can feel in our hearts that this to be the only way to be happy, healthy and live the life we want.

  • Be guided by principles not rules. Nature has a set of guiding principles which have been discovered over millions of years of evolution, and passed on in DNA and other learning. You can ask yourself, would this tool or technique pass the living systems test? Everything we do at Think like a Tree is guided by these regenerative principles – principles that create life at all levels, from our own ecosystems right through to the planetary biosphere.

Where to start with your Think like a Tree journey?

Here’s a message I received this morning as I was writing this piece:

“It is brilliant your work.  I love how applicable you make it all.”

Our aim at Think like a Tree is to bring useful, practical information to you in formats that are accessible for accelerated connection, learning and action.

What we share enables you to:


Connect – with nature, with other people, with potential collaborators

Learn and discover – with tried and tested, easy-to-follow, nature-inspired principles and tools, without the jargon

Take action – put the principles into action, to design the life that you want, inspired by living systems. A regenerative life is one that creates life for humans and non-humans, so you’ll be nurturing yourself and the biosphere at the same time.

Books or courses – where to start?

You can start with any of our books or courses – you choose, depending on your learning style, time commitments, budget and the level of support you require.

Here are your options: –

Think like a Tree: the natural principles guide to life by Sarah Spencer paperback – great for digging deep into the natural principles and scribbling notes. Take outdoors to complete the activities. I love nothing more than receiving a photo of a dog-eared copy! Makes a great loo book as the chapters are short (but beware that copies have been stolen from loos by visiting friends!).

Ebook – great for taking on holiday when packing is tight, or if you want to save paper.

Audiobook – Sarah’s narration will give you food for thought on long car or train journeys (top tip – you can change the speed to read faster or slower).

Natural Principles self-study course – access the natural principles in course format with videos activities for each one. Hosted on the permaculture community platform.

Inspired by Trees: creative workbook – illustrated paperback to take outside with you and let your inner creativity flow.  For art-lovers and people who don’t consider themselves to be creative.

Think like a Tree programme (online or in-person):

Learn how to use the natural principles to design the life you dream of.

Choose in-person if: you’re in the UK, love the in-person vibe of meeting new people in a physical location, love learning at an accelerated pace over 3 days, want a retreat atmosphere for a weekend with time to reflect and deeply connect with nature.

Choose online if: you’re outside the UK, love learning over 6 weeks, enjoy meeting people online, need online for healthy or energy-related reasons, or have family commitments that make online preferable.

Here’s what previous participants have said about the Think like a Tree programme:

“I chose to focus my design on the Natural Principle ‘Take time to pause’ and am already seeing the benefits in my daily life. A deeply enriching course that I would highly recommend everyone and anyone to attend.”

“Think Like A Tree has given me practical tools to use in my day to day life – to help maintain and sustain balance and design projects. It was a lovely opportunity to connect with like-minded people and take time to connect with nature through using new ideas and perspectives. I look forward to applying what I have learnt in different ways through the seasons.”

“The highlight of the course for me was sharing a journey with other like-minded people and seeing people find solutions and plans for their lives to help them move on in a better way of life.”

“I loved the lack of judgement, it was a safe space to discuss and share ideas.”

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