Master (Life) Gardening 101: Those Dreams Aren’t Going to Grow Themselves

Think about the first time you planted a garden. You started by tilling the soil. You might have added compost to bolster the nutrients in the ground. You placed the plants, gently resting them in their new spaces, and filling the remaining bits of each hole with healthy soil. You might have placed mulch around the tender plants and given your new garden a good, healthy initial watering. If that’s the last you tended to your garden, it likely didn’t thrive. If there’s one thing even the most novice of gardeners knows it’s this: gardening is an ongoing process.

As we discussed previously, you are the master gardener of your life.  You are the one to decide what becomes the focal point. You identify the things you’ll nurture to create the life you love. You are the one that sets forth the path you’ll grow along for the next 5, 10, 15 years and beyond. And just like the vegetable or flower garden in your yard, the life you’re cultivating needs consistent tending to flourish. Let’s talk about what that looks like.

Weeding and Deadheading

When you set your goals and began to work toward growing the life you love, you had a good plan in place. It was going to take you from seedling to fruitful. You were focused, locked in on the vision of your end-game. It was great. Along the way, however, your boss asked you to step in and take over a project that was languishing. Your son needed help gathering the elements of his end-of-year science project. Your daughter’s teacher was short a chaperone for the upcoming class trip. The PTO president called to ask if you’d be willing make a few dozen cupcakes for the upcoming picnic. The more you juggled, the more you realized that some of what you were gunning for wasn’t quite in line with the life you want to cultivate. You’ve started to wonder if you want something different; or at least, if you want to make a few tweaks to your original vision.  That means it’s time to weed.

You know that quiet space in your day? Maybe it’s those minutes just after the house has settled into sleep or just before it awakes and you alone. Maybe it’s on your commute, or the moments just after dinner. Grab hold of that space and use it to re-evaluate your goals. Is this still the direction you want to head? Are you getting distracted by tasks that aren’t contributing to the life you’re working to cultivate? Are these things something you can delegate? Have you pulled all you can from a specific facet of your life? Learn to discern when it’s the right time to say “No” to a request and what it’s right to say “Yes.” Then use that skill.  Remove what you can. Keep what you must. Adjust your course where you need to. Grow forward.

Watering and Fertilizing

There will be things you need to remove and then there’ll be things you need to nurture. As you progress toward your goals, you’re going to realize that there are skills you didn’t realize you would need. You’ll realize that things you’ve already done could be done differently. You might even realize that your real passion lies in a completely new path, if only you had those contacts to help launch you in the right direction or the know-how to get started in that field or to birth that new business.

If we were talking about your vegetable garden or flower beds, we’d spend time talking about different watering methods and what type of fertilizers work best. You aren’t any different. If there are skills you need to learn or improve, sign-up for a course. (Don’t forget, you’ve got plenty of alternative learning methods at your disposal to make this easier!) Find a mentor. Experiment. Give yourself time to learn through trial and error.

In a similar vein, you’re going to get nowhere if you give in to overwhelm and burn out. Don’t overlook the importance of taking time to recharge. Set aside time each day to focus on you. Read your favorite book. Relax in the hammock. Meet an old friend for lunch. Go the gym. Whatever it is that perks you up. Take a long weekend or a week off. Recharge. You’ll return ready to jump the hurdles and flourish!