How To Turn Your Life Into A Garden And Nurture It

Garden work must be the pit of hell. That and ironing. I really dislike gardening. No, I loathe gardening. And it just never stops. Pulling out weeds, trimming bushes, mowing the lawn. It’s like having my fingernails pulled out. I work my ass off repeatedly, only for it to disappear after a few weeks under the next wave of undergrowth.

Garden work tends to be put off for as long as possible, until such time that it is absolutely necessary to do it. Normally, that results in a long, tiresome day of dirt, cuts, and insect bites.

But at the end of the day, the garden (or at least a patch of it) looks amazing. I feel a genuine sense of achievement knowing that it was I who accomplished it.

And living our life is extremely similar.

Imagine your life as a garden. There are trees, grass, flowers, anything you want. This takes maintenance. In life, as in our garden, we are continually met with weeds and grass that we have to remove and trim. We have beautiful plants that we care and cultivate for. Eventually guiding them to blossom with great pride.

The constant pruning and cultivating of the entire spectrum of fauna and flora is a reminder of what we constantly need to do in our own lives. The continual effort to remember to be healthy, to build strong relationships, and to keep our lives in order.

The way I attack my garden is definitely not the way to go about it in life. One fell swoop every now and again will simply overwhelm you and the people in your life. Sometimes a big clean-up of our life garden is required, but it won’t help any situation or person to do this often. It creates stress for you, as well as confusion for the people in your life.

Performing small tasks consistently will take a load of pressure off further down the line. Instead of tackling an entire wall of weeds today, why not decide to only do a metre, and another next week, and so on.

As in life, you won’t be able to overcome a massive mountain of bad habits, bad influences, or repair relationships instantaneously. Take it one step at a time. You can’t change it all right now, but you can change one thing right now. That can be anything from choosing not to eat that chocolate bar, to picking up the phone to repair a broken relationship. Slowly, but surely, you will change one aspect at a time.

After working on your life garden for a while, you will notice the difference. When you look back at how your life garden maintenance has progressed, something amazing happens. You remember where you started, how shabby your garden looked. You can see your current progress, and how it is starting to take shape. And you see how your life garden could look.

You start to realise that things can change. They can get better. And they are achievable.

My life (and real) garden certainly isn’t perfect. There is a lot of maintenance and cleaning I have yet to perform. But, today I managed to make one corner of my garden look amazing. And it feels good.

Tomorrow, I will tackle another section, and that will look fantastic too. Yes, I know I will have to come back to the corner I finished today, but that is what life is.

There is no quick fix solution to anything in life. It takes grit, dedication, and many many boring hours of labour.

In the end, your life garden will reflect the amount of work you have put into it. The blood, sweat, and tears will pay off in the end.

How is your garden looking today? Any plans for tomorrow? I am interested in your response.

Why You Will Never Be Good Enough

No matter how hard you try, how hard you work, or how much you love. It will never be enough. There will always be something to work towards, somebody who isn’t loving you back, someone’s expectations you have not met. Something that is just not good enough.

Humans have lived through the ages continually striving for perfection. Repeatedly trying to be the best, beat the odds, and overcome obstacles. Even today we have yet to reach perfection in anything. There is no perfect energy solution, no perfect car, no perfect human.

Perfection is also unachievable when it comes to respect, love, and appreciation of other people. Whether it be your partner, business associate, or friend – there will always be something about you that just isn’t good enough. Think about yourself and how you look with disdain (albeit only slight) at others. The tea they made for you was too weak, they are never on time, or they drive too slow.

For all Man’s efforts, there is still room for improvement.

And that’s why you and I will never be good enough.

However, this is where we want to be. Although we might not be good enough now, we continue to strive for that perfection. We continue to learn, adapt, improve. Just as our predecessors did before us. It is infused in our DNA. We may not get there in our lifetime, but any progress made by us will bring that perfection one step closer for the next generation.

The way I have found to approach all of this is to simply care about what is being done. Being grateful for the effort put into performing a task for you. Celebrating that you put in effort to actually create a book, and it is not that bad. Celebrating the win of improving energy efficiency.

Anything really.

As long as there is a celebration of something that has been improved towards perfection, rather than the forlorn of what was not achieved.

Don’t be concerned about something being absolutely perfect. Don’t fret over the small things to make it just right, it will never be that. If that something is near-perfect, let it be and move onto your next wonderful creation.

We learn from the experience of not attaining perfection, grow from it, and move on. Next time it will be better, more improved, and more perfect.

To be honest, who cares if something is not completely perfect. People who criticise you or your work should take a hard look at themselves (and so should you). Before pointing out the discrepancies with other people and things, think to yourself “are you in a position to comment?”. How much effort did this person put into their project. How would you feel if you were in that position?

People need criticism, by all means, but it should be constructive. I put myself in the other person’s shoes. I ask them questions so I can better understand how they were thinking when performing their project. Only then, will I offer some suggestions for further improvement.

The key, I believe, is to suggest improvement rather than crunch down the criticism. Encouraging for improvement will lead the way to perfection, rather than be restricted by harsh criticism.

What are you busy perfecting today? I am very interested to find out your story.

Say No To Be More Productive

I like to be busy. Many tasks constantly taking up my time, so that I can immediately move onto the next one as soon as they complete. I am pretty sure you feel the same way too. We love the thrill of being ‘busy’. Being busy shows that we are working. We are doing many things for many hours. This model, however, cannot sustain us for very long. It drives us to stress, tiredness, and finally burnout.

Previously, if someone asked me to perform a task for them, I would try fit it in as best I could. I didn’t like saying no. Over time, I would find myself stretched thin, and not providing quality to the task at hand. I was a ‘Yes Man’, the ‘Go-to Guy’, the person who ‘would do it for you’.

No more. It took me a few years, but I came to the realisation that this simply wasn’t good enough. Yes, it felt good to be the main man who could solve all your problems. All I was doing, though, was hampering my own workload.

No matter how efficient, meticulous, or productive you are, there is always a limit to the amount of work you can perform before the quality takes a dive. It is a slippery slope once this starts to happen. People start losing trust in you. They start doubting the value you have previously provided them. And they will lose respect for you and your work ethic. The very things you have worked so hard to attain by saying ‘yes’ to everything.

Trust and respect are extremely important. Everyone is your client. You are serving them by acting on their requests. In the same breath they are serving you. You want them to come back and request more service, and we all know that a returning client is the best client. By continuing to serve and provide for them, their trust and respect for you will grow, and so too will their loyalty. All these factors combined will get you a long way when something doesn’t go right, or the shit hits the fan. Always try to maintain trust and respect in all your encounters with your clients. (But I have deviated, let’s carry on)

Before letting your quality take a dip, try saying ‘no’ to the next person that asks you to perform something for them. Ok, not ‘no’ outright, but in a way that resets their expectation. Something that I’ve found that works well is; “Sorry Beryl, I’m quite snowed under at the moment, but I could get this to you by Friday?”; or “How urgent is this, Drew, I have some other things I’ve got to finish first, then I can get this to you?”.

By aligning their expectations, you can then slot the new task in to the list you currently work with. You don’t sacrifice the current task you’re on. You won’t lose respect. You’ve set the expectation with the person that asked you for the task. And everyone is a happy family.

It is vital to understand your own workload. It is no use setting the expectation with Beryl that you will have her request done by Friday, when you know full well that you will only be able to finish it next week Wednesday. Doing this is just as bad as saying ‘yes’ all the time.

Be honest with your clients. Although some might get irritated or disappointed, they will all appreciate the honesty in the end. In future dealings, they will know that when you tell them ‘Friday’, it will be Friday. And if you don’t deliver what you promised, there will be a damn good reason for it.

What I’ve told you here, is from my personal experience. And to re-iterate, I believe the main factors are;

  • treat people with respect, and they will return it
  • be honest when setting expectations
  • keep true to your word
  • if you can’t meet those expectations, reset them earlier rather than later
  • and be friendly at all times. Having a bad attitude will reduce the respect people have for you.

Don’t be afraid to say no!

Footnote: If you are looking for some guidance on how to manage your tasks and workload, try using your most used tool during the day – your email application. I explain how to do this in my book, as well as here, and here.

How To Achieve Anything

In order to achieve anything – and feel good about it – we must accomplish ‘stuff’. This can be goals we’ve set, solving big problems, or successfully handling crises. But how do we actually do this? How do we beat our goals, solve those tricky problems, or navigate the storms?

One small step at a time.

Those age-old sayings are not just fairy tales. More and more, I am beginning to realise the wisdom behind them.

“One may walk over the highest mountain one step at a time.”

Whatever your mountain might be, the biggest move towards the summit is by taking that first step. And repeating that step until you reach the top.

Along the way there will be many stumbling blocks, issues, and points of excruciating frustration. How do you get past them? Continue those little steps.

It is amazing how far we get just by continuing to walk. One foot in front of the other. Stepping, walking, climbing. It all needs to be done in order for our goals to be met. Our problems to be solved.

“If there is no wind, row.” Proverb

I used to view my situations as huge, confusing, impenetrable masses. With no possible way to get to the other side. I’d try this, or try that, but by the end of the day, there would be no success. No success brought disappointment. Disappointment brought demotivation.

However, by breaking up these masses into smaller clusters, things became easier. The focus of each cluster being on a specific aspect, I found I could now tackle the situations one piece at a time. As I worked through these clusters, slowly but surely, the main muddled mass of a problem would begin to wear thinner and thinner. And eventually dissipate.

Success! What a fantastic feeling.

“Change your life by changing your mind.” Jeff Goins

Now, how does this apply to you? Simple really. Whenever you are presented with a pressing situation, or want to achieve a massive goal, or some other massive weight you need to get off your chest, why not try break it down into smaller, more manageable, chunks?

These smaller pieces equate to the ‘steps up a mountain’ mentioned earlier. Smaller pieces are ‘easier’ to achieve. And once the first piece is achieved, you will gain the confidence to tackle the next piece, and the next after that.

“There is nothing impossible to him who will try.” Alexander the Great

What you can take away from this today is that no situation is too big for you to tackle and focus on smaller areas that you can achieve. Eventually (and before you least expect it) you will reach the successful outcome you are yearning for.

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