Do you ever think about how you garden your business? Gardening or growing your business should be both proactive and reflective.
Recently I attended a whole day on Mindful Gardening. Organised by the presenter, a good friend, I was very inspired throughout by the content. I could relate everything to running my freelance proofreading business and the effects on my mental health.
She described gardening by relating it to life events. She talked about being mindful and reflective in the garden.
The participants had access to a large garden with room for 10 participants to sit with space, to be still, and to be silent.
She began each of three sessions by speaking for around 15 minutes, adding questions and suggestions for reflection and meditation. Then she let us be silent for one hour.
We could wander around, or sit in the garden or studio, depending on our mood.
It was a luxury to stop work for the day. Just. To. Be.
We were guided by her short reflections on the theme of gardening:
- seasons and weather
When seeds are sown, hopes are sown with them.
What seeds have you planted in your life? What hopes do you/did you have for the future? Have the seeds in your life grown? How have they grown?
I planted more seeds by training and telling everyone I knew that, having left teaching, I was looking for proofreading clients. I watered those seeds thoroughly with marketing and publicity.
If you’re lucky, those seeds grow into seedlings and become stronger plants.
What has helped you to grow in your life? How have you changed as a person as you have become older? How have your life events shaped and changed you?
My ‘toddler’ business got noticed as my marketing became stronger and more confident. I built on my training. Students, businesses and a charity became my clients. Voluntary proofreading gave me experience and confidence. I added to my testimonials.
Seedlings and plants thrive when they are given the appropriate compost, soil, and feed.
How do you feed your life? What nutrition does your life need to stay healthy physically and mentally?
How do you feed your business? What does your weekly or monthly feed routine look like? Do you ensure all the (plate-spinning) elements of running a business are in place: emailing clients, up-to-date invoices and expenses, admin spreadsheets, marketing, CPD (training)?
Two years after starting my business, I started writing my Tall Tartan Talks blog. My posts demonstrate my expertise, specialisms, and experiences of running a business, shared on social media, have aimed traffic (potential clients, other editors, and freelancers) to my website. ‘Gro-Sure’ for my business!
At regular times in the year, pruning is needed to keep plants under control, otherwise they become untidy, too big, and take moisture from smaller plants underneath or nearby. Plants can be trained by pruning to grow in a symmetrical, balanced way or in a certain direction. Or dead stems removed.
What have you cut or pruned in your life? What wasn’t working and had to be removed? How has your life changed direction? How did you preserve your physical and mental health?
I review the direction my business is going every quarter. Looking back I evaluate how much I have achieved of my annual plan and then review. I ask myself, what do I have to do more? What can I do less? The next quarter’s plan is tweaked. And my website is brought up to date.
I like the phrase ‘pivoting’. (Think of that scene in Friends when Ross is trying to get the sofa up the stairs with the ‘help’ of his friends. “Pivot! Pivot!”)
It means a change in direction.
A life-changing prune happened in my life in December 2015 when I left the classroom for the last time with health issues. It took a year for me to work out what direction that prune would have on my family, career, and future. Bearing in mind I had been the main wage earner for my 30-year teaching career.
I’m satisfied that the best outcome came next. That painful prune led to greatly-improved mental health.
Seasons and weather
Winter, spring, summer and autumn give the garden it’s natural seasonal pattern and rhythm. Plants and people respond to different levels of light and warmth.
How do you feel when the number of daylight hours are at their lowest? What is your favourite season? When is your mood at its best?
What season is your business in? I feel I’m in the springtime of my business. My business is growing; I am reaching out to publishers and accepting new, regular clients. Marketing is helping me to grow my business.
Do your business clients react to seasons? Are some months quieter than others? Do some months need more marketing to attract clients? How do you plan for when there are quiet times in your business? In the gaps, can you take a spontaneous week’s holiday … or do some training?
How do you cope with a deluge of rain? How do you juggle busy times when your services are in demand? Or when projects are delayed then land together? How do you schedule projects?
‘Twine’ to round up
Back in the garden, there were opportunities to chat over lunch and at the end of the afternoon. By that time I had relaxed completely. The day served as a mini retreat for which I was very grateful.
I used some of my quiet time to formulate business and personal plans. With space to think, I could let ideas float and clear away worries. I took notes of ideas that quietly but insistently nudged at me through the day …
How often are we not able to stop the physical and mental hurly-burly of everyday life?
I welcome any opportunity to look after my mental health to ensure I can cope with feelings of overwhelm. Tending to my garden with my gardener husband is one way.
It is essential, vital in fact, that we look after our health. We can’t provide a service to others unless we look after ourselves first.
For a Quiet Garden near you, see: https://quietgarden.org/