Life lessons from an experienced gardener

A very good friend of mine has now retired from a life in the charity sector.  I visit Linda a couple of times a year at her home in North Devon and we catch up on each other’s lives and families.  She asks me about my work, and I ask herabout her garden which is huge and her pride and joy.

What strikes me about the way she talks about her garden is the immense pleasure she gets out of working and developing it.  She is now in her 70s and suffers from arthritis so her mobility is not as good as it was. My most recent visit left me reflecting upon the many valuable things I have learnt from listening to her and how I can apply these in my work life.

With the year coming to a close, I thought it a pertinent time to suggest you consider a few questions:

What do you need to do in 2019 to get more pleasure out of your work?

 Do you get “immense pleasure” from your work?  If not, what can you do to get more enjoyment and satisfaction? After all, we spend a lot of our time at work.   Sometimes this needs an adjustment of attitude or a change of mind set. Sometimes it needs a radical change like a new job.

 Do you tend to “sweat the small stuff”when you could save time and energy and just get it done?

Do you put off small mundane tasks?  Linda takes for granted the small essential stuff like planting vegetables, feeding the chickens, mowing the lawn. She does them, without question, as part of her daily routine.  Linda reminds me to just get on and do the basics and not waste energy worrying about them.

What beds do you want to raise next year?

How good are you at focusing on achieving the important stuff?  Linda is great at picking one or two big things to concentrate on for the year.  It might be raising the flower beds or planting a new hedge.  I know I need to keep my focus on the few big things for 2019.

If you haven’t got “the end in mind” clearly written down, can you take time out over Christmas to develop it?

Can you pinpoint your vision?  She begins with the end in mind.  Linda knows how she wants the garden to look and over several years she has changed and adapted it to her needs.  The raising of the flower beds will be followed the next year with development of the vegetable and herb gardens.  This is all within an overall plan to make the gardening work less demanding as she gets older. 

It prompts me to ask what is my vision for mylife, for my work?  With a vision theshort term and long-term implications of raising the beds makes sense andcontributes to Linda’s sense of achievement and satisfaction.

Can you set and deliver your daily “to dos” more often?

Are you realistic in your goals?  Linda getstired in a way that she never used to when she was a work colleague.  Because of this she concentrates on theessentials and does a little every day. You might not be tired all the time, but I suspect you are often timepoor and “the essentials and daily action” mantra is a good one to get usthrough 2019 with a smile on our face.

Can you develop resilience so that you are stronger because of challenges? 

Can you deal with challenging situations with a positive mindset?  Without getting religious on you she talks of her garden as a blessing in her life.  Linda has had many setbacks, storms a few years ago devastated parts of the garden. Despite (or perhaps because of) these challenges she recognises the success of the garden surviving and now blooming.

I believe we are privileged to work in our sector at this time in society.  It can be a struggle, but we know the work of charities at local and national level is vital in helping support, and in many cases, transform individual and family lives.  I think the lessons from Linda and her garden can help us cope with the “storms” in 2019.  Then with a bit of reflection and some planning, we can blossom and radiate the immense pleasure we gain through our work.

Happy new year!

If you want help with any of these questions in 2019 contact Rob for an informal discussion on how he can help you and yourteam.