Sunday, May 25, 2008

Baby Steps to Miscellaneous Goals

It’s hard to achieve big goals. Listen, I find it hard to achieve little goals like unpacking a box or catching up on the laundry. So imagine how hard it is for me to get anywhere with a truly big goal.

I get trapped in the minutiae of everyday life. Walking the dog, working, taking care of my daughter and granddaughters, and mundane chores could easily take up my whole life.

So how do I keep up the momentum towards a big goal? I ask myself what’s the next step I could take towards one aspect of the goal. For instance, one of my goals is to grow organic lavender and sell the dried buds in sachets. In order to achieve that, I need an acre of land and thousands of plants. That’s not happening right now, so what have I done?

I bought and planted 3 different lavender plants, one Munstead, one Hidcote and one Provence. What will I learn from them this year?

First of all, I’ve never done much gardening. Step one is just to keep them alive, with very minimal attention.

Two, I need to see how big they’ll grow this year and next.

Three, I want to really learn the difference between the 3 types.

Four, I’m learning delayed gratification. You aren’t supposed to let them bloom the first year (although my Munstead is very determined) and only allow about ½ of the blossoms to develop the next summer. Then, the third summer you can harvest the entire crop. Doing this is supposed to encourage the plant to put all its effort into establishing its root system and greenery, so that it’s stronger.

So far, so good. One week later my plants are not only alive, they’re thriving. So, three little plants are really an effective baby step towards my goal. Two of the plants cost me $1.67 each; the third was $3.89. So for under $6 I’m learning, in miniature, all the skills I’ll need to successfully grow lavender on a larger scale. I could mope and complain about not having the land and all the plants this year but that wouldn’t get me anywhere.

And this experiment may save me from costly mistakes. What if I planted a whole acre with one type of plant and then found out its scent wasn’t quite right for my sachets? What if it didn’t grow well or needed more work than some other types? I can learn a lot of those lessons now, very inexpenively.

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