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.
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?
6 CommentsWhy not add to the conversation below? Your voice is welcome!
February 22, 2021
Never thought of my house like a garden – I like that!!
February 22, 2021
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.
February 25, 2021
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!
February 26, 2021
“Todo list time” as “gardening time” – I love that! A few hours a day to tackle tasks sounds similar to how I organize my days using Todoist as well. Just having it planned out somewhere helps.
February 28, 2021
That’s a fun analogy—associating gardening to growth in projects throughout life. I like it.
I like to think of Jenni and I’s physical/outdoor interests like that; a collection of skills we’re developing to be able to both have fun and stay fit & healthy as we age. Rock climbing. Mountain biking. Hiking. Skiing.
I hope to keep growing that garden!
March 2, 2021
Ohh yeah, I like the idea of comparing those to a garden. It’s like learning how to grow different vegetables – just new skills you’re learning. Love it. 🙂