“From whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” Ephesians 4:16
A home is always evolving. Gardens are never complete. They are an ongoing labor of love.
We began this series by using Butchart Gardens as an example of how a big hole in the ground, a gravel pit, could be turned into one of the worlds renowned gardens.
The last two steps used the example of building a home – taking a vision and turning it into a design and plan of action.
To end this series, let’s return to the Landscaping model. Whether you are building a house or designing a landscape you will need to know the stability of the ground, type of soil you are working with, what needs to be removed and what can be retained. Both house and garden require ongoing care to enjoy them to the fullest.
So it is when you have put a design in place for your life. There will be on-going work projects. But we get a sense of satisfaction in maintaining what we have achieved and it becomes a continuing work in progress.
Create a Tool Box for your Life
Just as we need tools to maintain our home and gardens, so too do we need tools for our lives. The following are ten life tools needed in your tool box.
- Your Master Plan – Keep your master design in front of you at all times and keep your focus on your goals. To remain motivated we need to remind ourselves where we are going and what we want to do. We often start with a burst of energy and then slow down just as our design is beginning to take shape. Those early preparation months, such as replacing wasteful and unproductive habits, are hard work and may not show visible results at first. But you are building a foundation to implement your vision and design.
- Flexibility and resiliency. You will be hit with unplanned obstacles and roadblocks. Be prepared to roll with the punches. Identify the problems and look for solutions but do not let it sidetrack or deter you from your goals.
- Develop your stride. Accept your vulnerabilities and utilize your strengths. Each of us has a unique way of doing things that allows maximizing our efforts. Re-adjust your time frame as needed to meet the needs of life in the moment while working on your plan of action.
- Break down big goals into smaller ones. With small goals or steps, you will be able to see accomplishments, no matter how small they might seem. In designing our home, there were many little steps that needed to be taken before actual construction could begin.
- Evaluate progress on a regular basis. We can easily get discouraged when there is no visible and immediate signs of accomplishment. Congratulate yourself for staying on task, for personal growth, persistence and becoming more disciplined.
- Schedule rest periods to prevent burn out and overload. Don’t wait until you are exhausted and tempted to give up. Carve out a time every day that removes you from work and allows you to be relaxed and contented. This may seem frivolous at first, but it is incredibly important and will maximize your ability to achieve results. Go for a walk outdoors, focus on the beauty of nature or a fun project, spend time with your loved ones, share your talents by giving to others, etc. Remember, you are a unique part of God’s plan and of His garden and design. You are needed, wanted and loved. Love and respect yourself and your gifts and talents.
- Repeat affirmations every day. Affirmations trains the brain to move toward a direction. It keeps us motivated and encouraged. Create positive “I” word statements that represent where you want to be in the future. Then stand tall and act as if they were so. Here are some examples:
- I am confident in my ability to complete my design
- I bring all my special capabilities, skills and talents to everything I do
- I am creative in finding solutions
- I draw my strength, faith, hope and wisdom from God who loves me
- Reframe difficult situations. Reframing allows us to see possibilities even in the worst circumstances and turns negative situations into positive transformations. We can focus on what we can do, not what we can’t do.
- Reduce stress. Stress can be environmental, external or internal. Allowing thoughts of defeat to remain dominant will increase stress. External or environmental stress comes when we don’t have a plan in place, haven’t identified and eliminated time wasters, or practice time management. Adjust your goals to match your abilities to meet those goals while remaining on task.
Life is an on-going process. Success is in the journey, not the end result. Our master life garden design is just the beginning. But the work continues as you improve, re-arrange, dig out, re-do or replace. Check your emotional pulse every day. Keep God at the head of your on-going project.
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