Gardening: Managing Expectations

Time to share another lesson I have learned this year from gardening: managing expectations.

Sometimes things just don’t work. And when they don’t work, I have been known, at times, to think I’ve somehow failed. This perceived failure causes me to put my pity party hat on and revel in my sorrows. But, as my husband reminded me, true learning comes when things don’t work or go as you planned.

As I said in a past post, we had big plans for our garden this year. In order to try to  “manage my expectations” I publicly said that I knew that this was our first year of gardening, mistakes would be made and not everything would make it. That being said, I secretly thought we would do all we said and more. I really wanted everything to make it and I really wanted to prove that I could do everything I had planned.

Enter reality. Two kids under 2 takes a lot of time, especially when the two-year-old is “helping”, and, you have to let him help so he can learn. Sure, I had help. My grandmas came over a couple times a month but then I went grocery shopping or ran other errands that needed attention instead of gardening. Ray helped on the weekends and after work, but it is summer and we are busier on the weekends with family get togethers and visits to out-of-state friends than I thought we’d be.

So when I text messaged Ray and told him I was not going to be planting about 4 or 5 of the seed packets I had planned to…I felt like a failure. Of course he was supportive and told me I wasn’t and that we had already done so much. I knew this, but the fact remained that I didn’t do everything I said I was going to do.

Enter reality, again. I started to look at the plans we had and soon realized that in my pity party I had forgotten my role as a project manager: adapt, improvise and overcome. Plans will change, schedules will alter and scope of work will creep. I was not a failure! I just needed to manage my expectations a bit better.

I looked at my spreadsheet and all we had done already (just like my husband said). We planted 53 varieties of fruit and veggies with multiple plants for each type. See the spreadsheet below for a full list.

Garden Inventory

Instantly I felt better. Sure, not everything we planted lived, or even sprouted but I wasn’t a failure. Self-indulgent with a tendency to throw lavish pity parties complete with party hats, balloons and noisemakers maybe, but not a failure.

The lesson here is to always manage your expectations. It’s ok to have grand plans, but you need a healthy dose of reality as well. Prepare for success as well as failure and be ready to adjust the plan as needed and learn from your mistakes.

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