First Step Time Limits to Support Forward Movement

by | Jun 2, 2023 | Blog | 0 comments

Last year, I planted my vegetable garden in February. It was an enormous amount of work to get it ready. This year, we decided to move the garden farther away from trees (to avoid the ongoing tree root issue and allow more sun). So, we created 4 new beds. Now, they are ready to be planted, and yet… forward momentum has stalled.

image of 4 above-ground garden bedsI actually love the emptiness. I find it beautiful in its own unique, uncomplicated way. Like a bookshelf that is not filled to its capacity. It leaves room for growth, new things to learn, and new inspirations to emerge. By design or lack of creativity, almost nothing of mine is filled to capacity:

  • Bookshelves
  • Drawers
  • Closets
  • Rest
  • Time
  • Nurturing

Yet, there is almost always a list of things running through my head that I think I should do. This is the one area of my life that seems to be perpetually full and even overflowing.

So, is planting the garden something I should do? Or is it something I want to do? And at what cost to my Life energy?

I love digging in dirt and seeing something grow. There is absolute pleasure in eating food that I have grown – and sharing it with others! I even love watering my plants, greeting them in the morning, and talking to my neighbors when they walk by. I always have loads of questions for people who are skilled gardeners and revel when I see positive results after trying something new. Last year, one person even asked me for gardening advice and I knew the answer, which was thrilling! These are some of the things I love about gardening.

It has been several months since I last gardened now, though, and those good feelings are a distant memory that competes with my howling jackal inner voice that says things like: I am not a good gardener, gardening is a lot of work and there is not enough time for it, I waited too long to move the beds and now it is too late to plant, and I do not know how to grow food this late in the season.

I tell myself that this is a form of inertia, and I look for the joy and inspiration to make forward movement. As I write this, I realize that I have not employed one of my favorite strategies for getting past inertia: First step time limits. How could I forget one of my tried and true methods?

Today, I commit to doing some research and planning out the garden. I give myself one hour for this. I will set the timer and when it goes off, I will quit (unless I am LOVING the process).

Then, this weekend, I will go to the garden center with my plan and spend 1 hour (tops) picking up a few (few is important here) plants, and I will spend 30 minutes planting them.

I do not have to complete anything. I can continue to celebrate empty space as well as the beautiful green plants that I get to nurture, talk to, support, and grow. I will notice if joy takes hold and if it does, I may buy a few more plants or seeds and start another timed process. If it does not, I may wait another week or month. There is no telling what I will do. No should or ought to’s.

With any luck, those good feelings will be rekindled which will simultaneously help kindle a few needs I am hoping to have greater expression of: joy, play, and nurturing.

Is there anything on your list that feels overwhelming and that you would like to engender with forward movement? Try my first step time limits plan. Allow yourself a certain small amount of time to take the first step (and maybe the second) and watch what unfolds.

Here is to a month of dirty hands and inspiration, wherever they come!

p.s. I could not quite finish this letter before going to a doctor appointment. My doctor talked about a place in my town called Farm Lot 59. It is a non-profit that focuses on teaching people how to grow their own food sustainably. Their farm donates all of their produce to local people in need. It just so happens that they are offering a tour of their farm this morning at a time that worked in my schedule! That is where I am headed right now…

By Mary Mackenzie

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