How we get to thinking our goals will thrive un-tended.
My daughters have been growing sunflowers in pots. This poor wilted fellow found itself parched and drooping when they forgot to water it. Again.
It will burst back into life once I soak it with the hose.
But it’s just not thriving like the other ones…the ones that haven’t kept on being forgotten.
It got me thinking.
Overwhelm squishes some important bits
Deadlines for work, poorly kids, the school bake-sale, office politics…these things can hijack this working mother’s head and drain all her emotional get up and go.
I don’t think I’m alone.
Crushing it (but not in a good way) with too much ‘have-to’
Our dreams can get crushed under the have-to, the busy-ness, of our daily lives.
Every minute gets packed with stuff that eats our whole day . We don’t spend time thinking in practical terms about the life we really want, let alone taking steps to achieve it.
Jotting down goals on January 1st hoping it will work a bit like casting a spell, is the closest we get to paying attention, before plunging back under the waves of have-to for the next 12 months.
Stephen Covey (his 7 Habits books is well worth chewing through, not light reading, but real meaty goodness), describes this time poor space as two things:
Either it’s ‘urgent and important’ – life’s emergencies that really matter; or it’s (much worse) ‘urgent and not important’ – those things we have to do, but which actually just mean we are running to stand still.
Urgent and Important
The first category would include a crisis in shipping that, unless you drop everything you are already doing at the office, is going to jeopardize an order for a major client. You are compelled to act and bad things will happen if you don’t.
Urgent and Not Important…
This is stuff like interruptions: the phone ringing, emails dinging to tell you they’ve arrived, text messages.
Almost always their urgency is in our heads. The compulsion to act on these things is fuelled by poor boundaries. If we don’t know our priorities, we won’t protect the time for nurturing them.
Anything can, and does, creep into the space we could be using for goal gardening. Those relatively micro actions which can keep our goals growing.
When we’re ricocheting around on the ping-pong table of busy-ness everything looks important because we’re not making conscious decisions. And our time disappears.
Ping-pong ball or person?
Until we get clear on our priorities and commit small chunks of time to them, we will be (as Bilbo says) like butter spread over too much bread.
Brene Brown astutely notes many of us are wearing busy and / or exhaustion as a status symbol.
And to be blunt (something I am accused of being often):
We may feel important rushing from A to B with the back of our hands on our foreheads…but in reality we are simply flushing our precious time down the toilet.
The window to achieving our dreams and enjoying the rewards slowly closes. The sunflower droops.
And we’re too busy to notice. Eek!
When busy-ness has us by the throat, the temptation to get back to our goals later seems rational and reasonable. We fool ourselves into believing they won’t suffer while we neglect them.
But if I had a plane to catch at 3pm and life today gets too hard, too busy, so I don’t get in the car and take action to cross the distance between me and the airport in time?
I would miss the plane.
It would leave without me, no matter how good my excuse.
In BusyVille the laws of cause and effect lose their grip in our psyche, and somehow we think that, unlike a plant being kept in a dark corner and not watered enough, our dreams are going to thrive un-tended.
There are things that equate to regular watering and good light for that plant – use these or think up some of your own:
1 Have a list of your goals written out on your bathroom mirror, in your wallet and on your steering wheel. It keeps them in sight and front of mind. For Goal Gardening think of this one like sunlight on your plant.
2 Have a list of 3 – 5 daily activities that bring your goal closer. Tick them off each night 5 days a week. In Goal Gardening speak this is water.
Every day you know you’re going to need to tick them off – and so you make room for getting them done. Again, it puts them front of mind and moves you forward every day, inch by inch.
3 Hang out with people who have what you want. When you take time to associate with people creating what you want, and get their opinions on different topics, you see yourself more and more in the picture. For me it’s very much a case of realizing ‘if they can do it, I can do it’. This is upsizing the pot so the plant can grow.
I guarantee there’s someone out there who’s clambered over the same set of difficulties you’re grappling with, and succeeded.
Find them, ask them how they did it, LISTEN instead of arguing with them about how unique you are, and work out how you can handle those obstacles too.
Obstacles with benefits
Everyone’s life is really busy.
Climbing over your obstacles will have side benefits beyond achieving your original goal.
Building my home-based business part time around what I was already doing full time – even though it was really hard – made me a much more useful resource to my team.
I wouldn’t have been able to help them do the same if I’d just quit my full time job or waited until I had less difficult obstacles.
Tackling them made me develop tenacity.
Little tiny, but daily, commitments really do make good things thrive in our lives when we apply them over time.
The difference in effort between watering and not watering is not big day by day. The difference in results is enormous.
Let me know your best goal gardening tip below in the comments – I love hearing from you.
See you on the road,