Why Personal Growth is Like Gardening: and why it matters
Patience has never really been my strongest virtue. I make quick decisions and love quick, tangible results. As a teen and young adult, I especially struggled with the self-discipline to plant seeds that would take a long time to (metaphorically) sprout. I wanted that quick fix, the immediate solution. I was a hard worker but often didn’t have the grit to stick to things when there wasn’t an end in sight. Eventually that behavior got me a lot of debt, an early-life crisis of conscience, and a really messy house.
Truthfully, becoming a parent was when it all changed. Parenting is definitely an investment with the longest end game I have ever seen. We may never even see the seeds we plant come to fruition. Once I started investing in doing the right things, whether or not I saw immediate results, my eyes were opened.
I still thought discipline was boring and took away the freedom to be spontaneous. But I was beginning to realize that some sort of planning was necessary in order to keep up with my obligations and desires for the future. I resorted to the “To Do” list my mom used to help me make when I was overwhelmed by cleaning up my hazardous waste site of a bedroom (thanks mom!).
I didn’t have all of the tools yet to be efficient and productive, and I am not sure I really knew what path I was starting down at that time. That desire for change and subsequent movement in the right direction really began my ventures into intentional personal growth. All of a sudden I knew that I had the power to grow out of some of my less-than-wonderful habits!
Several personal development authors (in books like Compound Effect and 12 Week Year) have talked about the idea that we plant small seeds of positive change over time and eventually it all comes together, and people assume that we are just overnight successes. The intentional, diligent growth that leads to that success often goes unnoticed by the general public.
This is why tracking and personal reflection are so important: these activities help us to monitor our progress and to see our growth before everyone else does. We can set short-term goals and track our progress so that we don’t get discouraged and so that we can take the time to celebrate along the way. At the right time the harvest comes if we don’t stop watering the plants. Cheers to enjoying the fruits of our labor!