This week, I’ve been working in my butterfly garden. And yes, it is really big! The soil had become hard over the years and most of the plants had become “spindly,” so I decided to to a complete overhaul. I had someone dig out the top 10 inches of dirt and replace it with a mixture of soil and compost, then I created a new detailed plan for replanting flowers and herbs that would transform this bare spot into an oasis for butterflies and hummingbirds, a sensational garden that delights all of us.
As I was enjoying the morning Saturday, I began thinking how my garden was much like my own life over the past few years. I started with a fresh “plot of life,” experimented with different plantings–my website, coaching, speaking, networking and writing–and chose the things that were both hearty and beautiful every year.
Think of it this way…you have a freshly tilled plot of soil in front of you, the next chapter of your life. You are in charge of planting, nurturing and harvesting your garden, with guidance from God, and input from friends, family, mentors (and maybe even a coach like me!) who will make things easier along the way. It’s up to you to create the plan to make sure your garden flourishes instead of having all your flowers, vegetables and herbs die on the vine. The steps you take today will make all the difference in the abundance you realize, but there are some things you must consider before you begin.
What do you want your life to look like next year, or five years down the road? Do you want something totally new, or do you love what is planted now? Do you enjoy the “perennials” or do you feel “stuck in a rut,” wanting to freshen things up with something new? Think about the aspects of your life that you want to continue, and then be very clear on what you want to change.Vision your ideal life, get very clear on where you want to go, and make a commitment to creating a beautiful “garden” that represents your gifts, skills, values and heart’s desires.
When you have clarity about your vision, remember that you can’t do it all at once! You have limited time and energy, so be selective about what you plant so as not to overwhelm yourself with the task before you. Create a detailed plan for exactly what you want to achieve in the future. Don’t try to do too much at once! Working on too many things will lead to neglect in many areas. Multi-tasking ensures that you will do many things adequately, but few things really well.
What characteristics are “non-negotiable” in your garden? When I was shopping for new plants, I looked for ones that were heat-tolerant, drought-resistant, and attracted butterflies. Most of my garden is in the full sun every day, so it wouldn’t have worked for me to plant shade-loving plants there. What are the gifts, skills and values you want to build on? What do you want to leave behind? What is most important to you as you create the future of your dreams? Even though some things might be appealing, are they reasonable to include? Follow your intuition! That is God leading you in the right direction.
There were some plants that are almost indestructible that I decided to keep. I have Knockout Roses that can withstand almost any climate (literally you can’t knock them out!), and a Butterfly Iris that blooms faithfully every year. I certainly didn’t want to get rid of those! Along with the barren dirt, I removed the spindly, unproductive plants, knowing that it would be a waste of my precious time and resources to try to save them when replacing them would be much more efficient and satisfying. Focus on your most valuable gifts and passions. Let go of things that don’t serve you well as you look to the future.
When my renewed garden is in place, I will have to stay committed to my plan so I can fully enjoy the benefits of my butterfly garden.
- I will fertizlize the plants to boost their growth, giving them additional nutrients to support strong roots and their success. What fertilizer do you need? What will enhance your plan for your own future? Do you need to learn new skills, invest in coaching or mentoring for personal development, or develop better time management? What will make you stronger in the future so you can flourish in your new “garden” instead of withering from lack of care?
- I will pull out the unsightly weeds that will take away some of the water and nutrients for the plants I want to grow. What distractions do you need to pull out of your life? Perhaps you need to get rid of fear, procrastination, self-doubt or guilt. If negative self-talk is cluttering your life, it’s time to dig it up, once and for all!
I will prune my roses back, cutting away the dead branches to encourage lush, new growth. In life, there will be missteps along the way. Acknowledge mistakes, use them as strategy for change and cut your losses. Trimming away the unproductive “branches” of your life will promote growth in other areas.
- I will have to practice “pest control.” Because my garden will contain beautiful flowers, herbs and greenery, there will be pests that want to jump on and eat away the new growth. I will need to be diligent to keep those pests out of my garden to protect what is most valuable to me. Do you have a plan to keep the energy-drainers out of your own garden? Beware of the people who will suck the life out of you, and be willing to draw boundaries to keep them out of your plan.
- I will cherish each flower for its own beauty. As I planted the Gerbera Daisies, Coreopsis, Black-eyed Susans and Yarrow, I thought about how each one was given a specific genetic makeup, thus its own special place in the world. The daisies don’t compete with the roses, thinking “Gee, I wish I could be a rose.” Instead, they grow beautifully as daisies, fulfilling their own purpose in my garden. Each one of these flowers is unique and precious, yet not a single one is perfect. Mark Twain once said, “Comparison is the death of joy.” Every person has a unique God-given purpose to fulfill, and was gifted to do just that. It is a waste of time and energy to try to fulfill someone else’s purpose, so just be you!
- God will supply the sunshine and rain to help my garden grow. But it is up to me to protect my precious flowers and herbs with mulch, extra water when the days are dry and gentle “pinching back” to keep things looking fresh. The “vision” must be continually nurtured to thrive!
- I will share the beauty of my garden with others. Because this is a very special place for me, I want others to share in the joy it brings me. I did not plant it in a remote corner of my yard, but in the most visible spot from any window in the back of my house. I am proud of how the Master Gardener gave me this plan, and how He equipped me with the just the right tools to make it flourish. I won’t keep it a secret, but will share it with friends, family and those who I reach across the world through my blogging, coaching and speaking.