Why You Should Plant a (Symbolic) Garden For Early Retirement

Whether physical, symbolic or digital, a garden helps you focus on one thing: growth.
Adam

Written by Adam on 2021-02-21. Personal, Blog, Financial Independence. 3 comments. Find out how I make money.

When I was a kid, I remember visiting my grandparents. They were in their 60s at the time and recently retired. I didn’t have any concept of “retirement”, but I knew they didn’t work all day.

In the summer of 8th grade and spent a few weeks away from my parents hanging out with my grandparents in a small town in West Virginia. Being a very self-sufficient only child, I spent a lot of that time exploring the creek behind their house, catching crawfish and obsessively checking myself for ticks.

What I didn’t realize at the time was how similar their idea of “retirement” would be to my own.

succulents
These succulents are doing a lot better than our plants

You see, they had realized a very important thing: you need to have lots of projects to work on.

For them that included fishing, needlework, making ornaments and fudge to give as Christmas gifts, making wine to sell in local stores and – yes – growing a garden.

The garden stood out to me. Every year I visited it grew more beautiful. I remember eating sunflower seeds straight from the flower (which, by the way, really need salt).

It was a place they could spend time and improve over time. It was an ever-evolving vision. Sometimes they’d work on it all day to get it how they wanted. Other times it’d hum along for months at a time without any attention – other than the smiles it generated by just being there.

Create Your Own Garden

The key part of their garden wasn’t that it was generating cash flow, or gave them food to eat. It was that it was something they could grow to be exactly what they wanted. All while being a hobby they enjoyed.

You don’t have to be a gardener to achieve this! You can find your own garden – physical, symbolic, or digital – and spend time growing it.

I have many gardens going right now.

Minafi is a digital garden. It offers a place to program, write, explore, learn, and more. It’s exciting to see something growing, even if the pace isn’t as fast as many other blogs out there. Some days I wake up excited to do something as tiny as optimize the page load speed, or A/B a form.

Our apartment is a garden. We’re continually making minor improvements to make it more beautiful, welcoming, and enjoyable. With most of 2020 spent indoors, spending some time to make your home more pleasant is a worthwhile investment.

My internal recipe database is a symbolic garden. Last year we started trying to make more recipes at home. The thing about learning how to cook is how much everything builds on each other. It’s growing a body of knowledge that makes all future meals even tastier. Sometimes we’ll also go out of our way to challenge ourselves as we did for Valentine’s day.

There are so many others: your body as a garden (fitness), your education, countless projects. People with gardens are rarely bored.

Plan Your Garden

Gardens have one thing in common: growth. You put in the work and the effort, and in exchange, something improves. The longer you put in work, the more you can expect to see growth.

Here are a few ideas for your own garden:

  • Improve your household to be more beautiful and enjoyable.
  • Create a website to share a passion you constantly come back to.
  • Grow an actual garden – anything from plants in pots to a full-out orchard.
  • Increase and build on your knowledge of a topic – cooking, a new language, programming, woodworking, marketing, drawing – whatever you’re passionate about.

When I don’t have a garden to work on, I feel aimless. During those times I lack a vision of what I want to create. It’s only when I envision what I want to create that I feel truly motivated to work on something.

What kind of garden have you planted, or do you want to plant? It is a physical garden or a digital garden? How do you work towards it?

Adam

Hi, I'm Adam! I help millennials invest to reach financial independence sooner than they ever thought possible. Want to see what you could do to reach FI sooner? You're in the right place!

3 Comments

Why not add to the conversation below? Your voice is welcome!

Never thought of my house like a garden – I like that!!

Thanks! I’m always in awe of people who have an amazing eye for design. Then I realize it didn’t just happen – they had to put in the work and hours to get there and I haven’t. I see why people pay interior decorators to get there much faster.

I have a long to-do list with projects that keep me busy. I usually spend a couple of hours each day working on different items from the list, in what I call “Professional Time.” Thinking now I can rename it to Gardening time. Dragon Gal does maintain our real vegetable garden. I can maintain my intellectual garden!

Minafi - The intersection of FI, minimalism & mindfulness.

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