The tradition seems to be to start the new year's newsletter with a
goal setting tip. Frankly, I wasn't sure if there wasn't anything new
to say. Then, as I sat by the fireplace reading a gardening book, I saw
some tips that apply equally as well to goal setting.
I was reading "Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholomew. He
claims that his method is radically helpful in getting from the major
pitfalls of most gardeners: over-planting, getting overwhelmed, allowing
weeds to get out of control, and simply giving up before harvest comes.
He said that, when he ran a community garden, 150 enthusiastic people
would work like bees the first weekend of spring. By the time harvest
came, there were maybe 7 die-hards who actually showed up to collect the
fruits of their labor.
The square foot gardening method is almost offensive in its simplicity
- and that's why it works. Essentially, a gardener is to split their garden
into 12 inch by 12 inch squares (hence the square foot method) and only
plant what they will be able and willing to eat. Instead of overplanting
and then weeding, he says to only plant according to the space requirement
per plant, say 1 pepper seed in the square, or 16 carrot seeds per square.
With his method, he forces better planning than the "just dump the
whole packet of seeds in the ground and thin it out later" method.
By imposing limits and structures on the planting, he cuts down on the
time required to tend to the garden. This makes it more likely that people
will actually still be there at harvest time.
The same thing happens with goals. It is very hard to accomplish them
without having a system in place that cuts down on the likelihood of starting
strong out of the gate but getting discouraged or giving up along the
way. I heard Tony Robbins say that most people will underestimate what
they can accomplish in 10 years, but will grossly overestimate what they
can accomplish in one year. We all hear about having big dreams but starting
small, but that seems just far too boring when we are over-excited with
meeting the new year with huge ideas about how to turn our lives into
something bigger and better (or "smaller and better" in the
case of the number 1 new year's resolution - weight loss).
So this year, I will ask you to be a goal setting wimp. Instead of coming
out strong only to crash at the first distraction, I will ask you to assess
your current life and see what you really have available for new things.
If you are working three jobs already, you may only consistently find
2 nights of 20 minutes each. If that is so, that is your "square
foot" available for your goals. If you have more time, great. You
simply have a larger back yard in which you can choose to plant in. But
even then, just because you have the larger space, it doesn't mean you
need to use it up for new things all at once. In gardening, it is better
to stagger the planting of new seeds as well, so that we end up with a
continuous useful harvest, rather than with 150 cucumbers all in one week.
When you know what your "square foot" blocks are (this can
be in time values, as well as the finances available for the pursuit of
something new), look at the new goals you would like to plant in your
square foot, how much of your available resources that goal should take
up, and when you could expect a harvest at that rate. Write that expected
harvest date down (for example, if you are wanting to start a business
and only have 20 minutes per week available for study and implementation,
you may expect to start in a year or more. If you have 10 hours per week,
you can expect to start in a month or sooner.)
Then, decide what you are NOT going to do. Just as it is important to
decide what you want, it is just as crucial to decide what to postpone
or what not to do at all, because trying to do too much can easily distract
us from what we CAN do.
Finally, get going. Set aside a specific amount of time and other resources
(your square foot blocks) and then tend to your goal, irrespective of
whether you are seeing immediate results. Remember, you wrote down when
you can expect your harvest, so don't uncover the soil every week just
to get upset you don't see any sprouts yet. Keep going. It may take you
up to a month (as they say, it takes 21 repetitions to make or break a
habit) to get comfortable with your new schedule, but after that? You
will have gained momentum. Once this happens, you will find it harder
NOT to continue than to stop with your new goal.
So, what are you doing - still reading this article?
Don't you have some measuring and planting to do?
Happy goal setting, sunshine and smiles,
"Gardens make you
think of the future."
movie, "My House In Umbria"
a potato growers' conference held in communist Russia, attendees from
all over the world brag about how they have been able to shorten the time
needed before potatoes could be harvested. The last person to speak is
a Russian grower who states they now pull the potatoes out only a week
after planting. The rest of the growers gasp in amazement and ask how
the Russian grower accomplished this. Which he answers simply, "Comrades,
you have obviously never known hunger!"
Cold-war era joke
"Leadership can be found
in the most unusual and unexpected
places...like in your daily routine when you live your life."