For the past three weeks, the air has been filled with the familiar exchange of greetings and self-improvement queries. “Happy New Year”, “Compliments for the New Year”, and “What are your plans and resolutions?”, embraced the start of 2024.
Among the more unique traditions, I find myself intrigued by the Kasi people’s question, “Uwungene kanjani?” which directly translates to “How did you enter the new year?”. This perplexing and somewhat confusing question, asking, “What did I do to cross over to the new year?” prompted me to do some introspect, determine key focus areas for self-improvement in the upcoming year and plant a life seed.
What is a life seed?
Just like seeds that have the potential to grow from a tiny pip into a beautiful flower, a strong tree that provides shade, or a fruit or vegetable that offers nourishment, humans have the potential to cultivate and grow their skills, talents and abilities to become the best possible version of themselves. By planting a life seed, you are setting the stage for creating the life you desire through focused self-improvement.
Growing a plant requires a lot of attention in the form of time and effort; it is a laborious process, including optimal soil conditions (the circumstances that ground us), enough water (nurturing our abilities), light and the right temperature (good positioning of ourselves to be able to flourish). Thus, to grow your life seed, you must exert effort and be in the right environment to yield positive results.
Planting your life seed for self-improvement
Self-improvement doesn’t just happen it requires attention and focus. Just as a gardener carefully selects the perfect seed for a desired plant, so too must we choose what we wish to cultivate in our lives. This process is transformative and empowering, leading to profound personal growth and development.
Select and know your life seed
A good farmer knows which seed he will be planting for each season. Just like a farmer, select your life seed for 2024. Identify what aspect of your life requires improvement or refinement for you to develop. Your life seed may relate to your career, social circle, economic situation, wellness or other aspects of your life.
Clear and prepare your life garden
A well-prepared garden makes it easier for plants to sprout roots and grow into the intended plant. Similarly, you must thoroughly nurture your potential to prepare yourself for growth, which involves setting your mind to do what you intend to do and letting go of everything holding you back. It is vital to let go of those things that are detrimental to your mental health. Just like you would not look at the seed daily to see if it has sprouted, you need to let go of those things that waste your time. Let go of those things that don’t contribute to growth, development, improvement or advancement.
Plant your seed by being intentional
To grow into a mature and flourishing plant, you need to intentionally and patiently care for your plant by watering it (doing positive self-talk), ensuring it has adequate sunlight (repositing yourself to where you can flourish) and removing threats like bugs or parasites (obstacles that stand in your way such as excuses or procrastination). Your life plant requires the same intentional dedication, consistent effort and the necessary actions to reach your goal. Stay committed and focused.
Resilience in adverse conditions
The planting process requires diligent planning. But just as farmers can not always predict how the natural elements may impact the growth of their crops, you need to be prepared for slight deviations in your planning. Persistence, when facing challenges, will enable you to grow your life plant. Again, I encourage you to stay focused and persevere while keeping the following in mind:
- Seeds don’t grow overnight. Neither does achieving your life goals. Keep nurturing your seed; that tiny little seed will sprout at the right time.
- Once planted and when nurtured and cared for, a seed will not remain a seed forever. It germinates and shoots out of the ground with vibrant new leaves. You need to leave your comfort zone to grow your life plant. Believe in yourself and know that even if it takes time to transition, adapt and grow, you can achieve your goals and improve your future.
- Just like a sprouting plant needs to overcome gravity and “push” through the surface to emerge as a young plant, you may also have to overcome some obstacles to grow. From personal experience, I can assure you that even in the face of adversity and setbacks, you need to keep going, find ways to overcome the challenges and continue on your unique journey of growth.
- Seeds and plants need to adapt to various changes in weather conditions to continue growing. Just like the seeds and plants need to adapt to their environment, you may also need to adjust and be flexible to reach your goals. Don’t let small obstacles deter you.
No sprouting seed goes unnoticed.
- After a few weeks of planting, the young foliage will reveal itself for all to view. Some may notice the beauty of the new plant, and often others may not. Don’t expect praise from everyone as you continue growing. Just like the farmer continues to nurture his crops, even if he has to wait in great anticipation of what the final harvest will yield, you need to be patient and kind to yourself to flourish. At first, your friends and family might notice little changes. Don’t stop; believe that your life garden will draw in the right people who will not only admire your tenacity and effort but who may also contribute positively to achieving the life you always wanted to lead.
Celebrate little milestones.
- The farmer appreciates each stage in the growing crop. The milestones, however small they may seem, indicate progress, whether it is the first sign of green sprouts, new branches, spring blossoms or new buds. Reaching smaller milestones in growing your life plant mirrors this acknowledgement of progress and effort that leads to flourishing. For example, each module you complete or pass or each distinction you achieve builds toward completing your qualification and graduating. I encourage you to celebrate the little milestones because it contributes to you staying committed and consistent in your efforts to achieve your bigger goal.
The prospect of planting and growing a whole garden may seem too daunting and intimidating. Therefore, start with one seed and keep going. With time and with each new life seed you plant, you will eventually have a beautiful landscaped garden crafted for the life you imagined. The excitement of a successful harvest and the profound sense of achievement when reaching your life goals will leave you with a feeling of joy that you can not compare to anything else.
Conclusion: Reaping the awards of your life garden
In the end, cultivating your life garden for self-improvement is a journey that demands patience, resilience, adaptability, and unwavering commitment. Just as the gardener cherishes the blossom of each seed, you too should take pride in your growth and every milestone you achieve, however small.
Remember, your life garden is unique to you; it’s a reflection of your journey, your struggles, your victories, and your aspirations. As you continue to tend to your life garden, you’ll see the fruits of your labour flourish, painting a vivid picture of the life you’ve always envisioned for yourself. It’s a long journey laden with challenges, but the joy and fulfilment that come with a successful harvest make it all worthwhile.
Don’t wait! Plant a life seed today to cross over to the new year and a new you.
Sources of inspiration
Burrowes, B. (n.d). How Planting a Seed Can Change Your Life. Tiny Buddha. https://tinybuddha.com/blog/plant-a-seed-change-your-life/
Dumitru, A. (2023, February 21). Planting the Seeds of Resilience: How to Cultivate Inner Strength and Overcome Life’s Challenges: The Ability to adapt and bounce back in the face of adversity. Medium. https://alex-dumitru.medium.com/planting-the-seeds-of-resilience-how-to-cultivate-inner-strength-and-overcome-lifes-challenges-9574d2123c66
Gaglan, S. (2018, December 19). Ditch Your New Year’s Resolutions. Instead, Plant Your Seed Habit. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/shivgaglani/2018/12/19/ditch-your-new-years-resolutions-instead-plant-your-seed-habit/?sh=57514e91d772
Gallardo, L. (2023, October 3). Happiness and Well-being for Humanity: Humans as Seeds in the Garden of Life. LinkedIn. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/happiness-well-being-humanity-humans-seeds-garden-life-luis-gallardo/
Himes, S. (2024, January 11). Don’t Be Caught Off Guard By Mild Temperatures, Make Garden Resolutions For 2024. Texas A&M Today. https://today.tamu.edu/2024/01/11/dont-be-caught-off-guard-by-mild-temperatures-make-garden-resolutions-for-2024/
Mashangwa, T. (2021, September 22). Land preparation: The basics of planting. ProAgri. https://proagri.co.za/land-preparation-the-basics-of-planting/#:~:text=Good%20land%20preparation%20will%20help,incorporate%20crop%20residues%20and%20manure
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