Ever been working on a goal or project, but it seems like nothing is happening? I suggest you let go of your expectations. It may appear that your project is getting nowhere fast, so you start getting frustrated and you want to quit. I suggest you let go. Trust that your actions will have results long-term and keep going. Let go of expectations before they drown you in doubt.
I am a part of an amazing group called Achievement Club. It’s more than a meet-up that helps me reach my goals, I meet the most amazing, wholehearted people and I learn so much about myself. We often have challenges for the month that encourage us to examine our lives and ourselves to discover ways we can grow and be better humans.
Our challenge for May was to focus on planting seeds. It’s been great for calling attention to where our responsibility lies: planting the seed and tending to it. It’s really all we can do. Ultimately, we have little control over whether or not it grows.
So this spring we were invited to take part in this fun little exercise. Each of us received an awesome red cup full of dirt and a small packet of mystery seeds. Now not knowing what you’re growing is a bit of a curveball. How deep do you plant it? How long does it take to germinate? Is it a weed or flower or vegetable? We had to wait and see.
Planting seeds and a whole lot of patience
I thought this would be easy and I’d have a plant in no time. Afterall, I have experience growing stuff. But no, I have nothing to show for my efforts.
When you know you can grow seeds well (see Exhibit A) and you have no growth after a few weeks (Exhibit B), it’s frustrating and I’ve found myself wondering where did I go wrong?I kept coming back to this: It is not my job to force the seed to grow, it will or it will not. And it may be doing just fine and I simply can’t see the results – yet. The urge to dig around to discover what’s going on underground where I couldn’t see was sometimes hard to resist, but I managed to overcome it. My seeds were planted, so all I could do was take care of them, do what I knew was good for growing seeds and plants, and wait. My need to control things that I wanted to inflict upon my seed had to go.
This reminds me of Wayne Dyer’s analogy of pulling up a tulip shoot because you want the flower sooner that he shares in The Power of Intention. But of course, you don’t get a tulip if you pull up the emerging plant before it’s ready.
Throughout this exercise, I examined my ideas and goals and my progress working towards them. I thought about things that are germinating; the things I am not yet ready to share or bring to light. Planting seeds (and having slow results) has led me to question my efforts. Am I tending to them? Are they (and me) being nourished as they grow? Small steps are still steps moving me forward. It’s made me more thoughtful about my actions and choices.
What am I growing?
As Erin mentioned at our meeting, “The seed we plant is always the seed we reap.” Am I putting my energy to the goals that matter the most to me? Am I living my life in a way that is in alignment with who I want to be as a person? Am I showing up in life in a loving way? Ever since this exercise began, I keep asking myself, “What kind of seeds am I sowing?” I keep coming back to this question, almost daily. What seeds can I sow today?
I didn’t grow a plant
Now I have to admit, my seeds never did grow. For all the inspiration they provided me to move on with my goals, they didn’t do a single thing. I watered that red cup for months, hoping something would sprout. My son’s seeds eventually grew into a lovely baby’s breath plant that is living in our side garden. My cup of dirt ended up in the garbage. But if my seeds had grown, I would I have learned so many lessons along the way?
One lesson learned was letting go of my seeds that would not grow. I had to give myself permission to toss them out. I don’t like to quit and I hate to make mistakes or be wrong. (The horror!) However, I realized I was wasting my energy trying to get those seeds to grow. I tossed them out the same day I planted my son’s plant in the garden. The living plant needed the attention, not the one that wouldn’t grow. Interestingly, I didn’t toss my seeds in the garbage until I had launched this website. While my actual seeds hadn’t grown, my secret project that was waiting to be brought to life had. My seeds had served their purpose.
I’m sure there are things I’m still holding onto that I could let go; be them results, expectations, unproductive efforts, or physical items. However, I get to choose what, when, and how I let go and I’ll do it when I’m ready. I wonder what I’ll let go today.