What To Do When You're Battling Discouragement

“Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” Robert Lewis Stevenson


Who doesn't love flowers?

I dabble in my yard routinely with the hopes of coaxing out blooms from assorted bulbs, hydrangeas, and sedums.  However, I don't consider myself a legitimate gardener because I rarely plant things from seeds.  Instead, I typically buy seedlings someone else has sprouted and nurtured.

Planting seeds isn't much fun.

Prepping the soil, digging the rows, watering -- constantly watering -- feeling grateful for days when it rains and you don't have to water.  Still, mostly it's about waiting.

Gardening can be discouraging if you're looking for immediate results.  I find the process closely tied to how real life works.

Whether you're growing roses, raising kids, launching a new business, or starting your career, in the real world no one is selling seedlings; there's no short-cut to doing the work or the waiting. You have to seed your own field.

Dig. Plant. Water. Wait. Dig. Plant. Water. Wait. Dig. Plant. Water. Wait.

Where are the results?

The temptation is to judge the value of your garden based on what you see; to be discouraged during the waiting period.

Not only is waiting not fun, it's unavoidable.

The only comfort I've found is to force myself to focus on the Law of The Harvest: You reap what you sow. 

A harvest won't happen overnight and it certainly won't happen without a tremendous amount of work, but it will happen.  This is as true as the Law of Gravity.

For me, waiting is tolerable only when I keep a wide perspective.

Maybe you've had the same experience.

When you force yourself to trust the seeds to do their thing, one day you notice something is a little different. In fact, if you're not careful, you won't even notice the change.

You see a spot of green: A prospect returns your call, your child says, "thank you" without being prompted, a deal is signed, a date night is scheduled, a tough conversation is had (and survived!), a friend calls with the perfect story, you get an email that says, "you're doing the right thing."

You feel ever so slightly encouraged.

The "win" may be small, but it's still growth.

Don't let those wins slip away.

Write them down. Put them in a book. Create a "growth" folder. Note the win on a slip of paper and put in a mason jar so you can read it later! PINTEREST ALERT

Last year was particularly tough for me on this front, so I posted a wall calendar where I wrote down the small steps (color-coded, of course) that made movement visible to me.

The calendar reminded me that change may be imperceptible at first. However, planting seeds, working, and waiting for growth is always a viable strategy.