The Growth Mindset: Applying Gardening Principles to Personal Development

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What do you think of when you think of gardening? Do you think of watering plants, growing carrots, and pulling weeds? Maybe you’re a seasoned gardener, and you think of the complexities of soil health and seasonal adaptation. Or, perhaps gardening is new territory to you, and what comes to mind is a pretty space with food and flowers. 

When I think of gardening, I think of all of the above as well as how gardening presents us with an opportunity for personal growth. The skills we use in gardening can be applied to our own lives, giving us what I call a “growth mindset.” 

This mindset prepares us to face life’s challenges with creativity, and to enjoy the fruits of our labor with appreciation. It supports our positivity, which is linked to a variety of well-being benefits

How gardening helped me grow

When I started my garden in 2015, it was just a backyard with a couple trees. The ground was mainly dirt without much growing from it. I didn’t buy the house with starting a garden in mind; I liked the house and was happy to have an outdoor space with it. 

Over time, as I share in this blog post (link post 1), I began to add plants and fill the space. It was a slow process, but I transformed the yard into a place of beauty, and in doing so, I felt myself transform, too. 

I began gardening when I was in a low place; burnt out from work, dealing with social isolation because I worked so much, and in need of something to lift my spirits. The more time I spent caring for my plants, the better I felt. Did you know gardening is proven to be good for you?

The joy gardening both helped me improved my mood and made work less taxing. With fewer things weighing on me mentally, I had more energy for going out and meeting people. Most notably, gardening showed me that I had been neglecting myself, and my mental health suffered as a result. 

The lessons I learned from my plants helped me create a new routine for self-care. Like the seeds I planted, I was ready to grow and bloom. 

Gardening for Personal Growth

What does gardening have to do with personal growth? Quite a lot, actually. We set goals and work toward achieving them. Trying to germinate seeds is similar to trying to start a new habit. They require practice, because we won’t always get it right the first time around. We need to be resilient, because giving up when things get tough means we’ll never achieve our goals. If we aren’t successful after week and decide to stop trying, we won’t see seeds grow into mature plants or establish that hobby. We need to be persistent, because gardening and growing take continuous work, and finally, we need to be patient because gardening and growing take time. 

These are the key elements to a growth mindset: Practice, resilience, persistence, and patience. 

I often hear people say things like “I can’t keep anything alive,” or “I can’t keep plants alive,” or “I have a black thumb.” I always think: “You probably haven’t practiced enough, and gave up when you lost a plant!”

Can you imagine if I had given up after I killed nine of my original houseplants? You wouldn’t be on this website today! 

It’s true that some people are born with a knack for plantcare the way some people are born with a mind for playing chess, but most people develop their skills with the key elements I have outlined. 

When you think about it, “I can’t keep anything alive” is a lot like “I can’t quit smoking,” or “Pull-ups are too hard for me.” How long did you try to quit smoking or do a pull-up? How often did you practice? Did you keep trying when you struggled? Why weren’t you patient with yourself? Did you ask for help? 

It’s worth noting that one of the main reasons we give up on a goal is comparison. We see the perceived success of others, and feel so far behind that we decide it’s not worth it for us to even try. Remember: Everyone starts somewhere. If you spend your journey, whether it’s for gardening or personal growth, thinking about others, you waste valuable energy you could be directing at yourself. 

Focus on yourself, and keep these key elements in mind. Growth will follow. 

Are you ready for growth?

A growth mindset is invaluable. Once you embody practice, resilience, persistence, and patience, you will begin to access your potential, and the potential for growth is unlimited. 

My book, “How to Grow: Nurture Your Garden, Nurture Yourself,” provides a more detailed explanation to developing & maintaining a positive growth mindset. Get your copy today.

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