One Step at a Time: Expect Failure and Get Back on Track

Last night I pulled out a bag of red beans from the kitchen cabinet. Immediately I felt a sense of defeat.

You have to know that I love to garden and this year—during the coronaventure—I had a lot of extra time on my hands. Motivation was everywhere on social media—photos of lush greens, baskets full of fruits, newly raised beds, seemingly endless rows of cabbage, baby chicks, and, of course, I saw nothing but other people’s success. A lot of cute, pretty stuff and very little trials, tribulations, or outright failures.

At the beginning of the Coronavirus shutdown, toilet paper disappeared, along with rice and beans. Beans seemed like a logical choice for my future edible Garden of Eden.

I have developed a fondness for The Bean and I would love to grow long, twining plants of my own. I pictured lots of colorful beans clinking around in cute mason jars. I imagined my husband’s excited grin when I presented them to him. I could picture myself cooking them and I imagined how good they would taste.

So, I planted the beans I had, which was the small packet I got for free at the Seed Library inside my local library. They grew and grew, and then one day I noticed a pod. I let the pod grow a bit bigger and I picked it. I assumed that this was how beans were ‘done.’

But, au contrair. The bean pods I was picking were not the beans of my imagination. Inside the pod I found little puny beans that looked no bigger than a large pimple—hardly visible to the eye! Of course, I could not bring myself to find fault in my growing—or harvesting, as the culprit ultimately turned out to be—no, I decided that these tiny beans should be eaten raw.

Wrong again! Turns out the raw beans are toxic.

It’s enough to make you feel such defeat, that you flounder on the kitchen floor and decide to quit.

So where am I going with this?

The thing is, that we see other people, their photos, their success, and wonder why we are ”not there yet.” In a way, we hijack owr own experience and ruin the process from the start.

When I thought about it, I realized that in the beginning, I was full of optimistic excitement. I’m growing beans! I can do this! I had so much enthusiasm that I did not really learn how to care for or harvest the beans. It turns out that the beans have to grow on the plant much longer. They have to actually stay on the plant until they become dried out and the leaves of the plant turn yellow. All along, I was under the impression that I should be constantly picking the beans.

The bottom line was that I had not done my homework. I had gotten carried away into the ether of excitement. But, gardening, like most everything, takes knowledge—a lot more than we may realize when we begin. It also takes hard work and consistency—something we may know, but don’t want to acknowledge.

But, even more, my failure was just the beginning of my bean growing ‘journey.’ No, we do not see a lot of failure around us, but it exists—more than we know. If I had given up on my beans I would have not only allowed myself to succumb to failure, but I would not have learned anything at all.

Last time I wrote about ”why” I do what I do. I think it is important to have solid reasons for how you want to spend your time. Without a strong desire to accomplish a goal, the bottom tends to fall out and we are left with wasted time and energy. You know, do you really want to grow beans or are you just infatuated with the idea? We need that desire, but we also need to learn to check our expectations when we fail—and put in the energy to figure out how to get on track.

Once we have both of those ‘mindsets’ in place, we are ready to construct goals that are true and actionable.

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