Everything I know about life I learned in the garden

success formula

Wisdom is found in unlikely places…

My wife and I love to garden. On weekends we can be found wrist-deep in dirt, sunburned on the backs of our necks, planting, pruning, fighting off the neighbor’s bamboo.

It’s a great way to throw off the worries of the week, to invest yourself in participating in something beautiful.

You can learn a lot about the world, about life, in the garden, and here’s the biggest lesson for me:

If you put something into the ground and you want it to grow and flourish, the only thing you can do is optimize the conditions for success.

When it comes to plants or trees, that breaks down to soil, sun and water.

Optimize the soil. Optimize sunlight. Optimize watering.

  • Make sure that you match the plant with the ideal type of soil. Different plants prefer different types of soil.
  • Make sure that you plant it in an area where it’s going to get the ideal amount of sunlight. Don’t plant a fern in the middle of the desert, don’t plant a citrus tree beneath the canopy of a spreading oak.
  • Make sure you design a watering plan that delivers the proper amount of water to the plant. Don’t over-water, don’t under-water.

And that’s all you can do. After that, it’s out of your hands.

You can scream at the plant, you can stamp your feet and beg, you can pray, but that plant is either going to grow or die based upon the laws of nature, and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.

You did everything within your power, all you can do is continue to maintain the optimal conditions. Other than that, you’re done.

When it comes to health, to fitness, to fat loss, the same rule applies:

All you can do is optimize the conditions for success. After that, it’s out of your hands.

Optimize your movement. Optimize your eating. Optimize your recovery.

  • Make sure you are exercising in a way that is consistent with your desired outcome.
  • Make sure you are eating in a way that will support your goal.
  • Make sure you are getting enough sleep, that you’re managing your stress and that you’re undertaking activities that will promote recovery and regeneration instead of constantly tearing down your body.

And then let go.

You can scream at the heavens, you can complain to a friend, you can beat yourself up, but it won’t expedite the outcome you desire.

The only thing you can do is optimize the conditions for success. After that, it’s out of your hands. After that, it’s just about TIME.

So, instead of questioning your outcomes and your results, question the conditions. Ask yourself:

“Am I creating the optimal environment for success?”

If the answer is yes, you’re winning. Take pleasure in the process. Own the fact that you have a strong health practice and revel in the daily win of maintaining that practice.

If the answer is no, reassess your approach. Don’t beat yourself up, just implement the optimal conditions for success and take a deep breath.

You can’t control the laws of nature. You can’t manipulate time.

All you can do is what you can do.

And try gardening. It’s cooler than you think.

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Jonathan Aluzas is co-owner of Arena Fitness, a fitness center that offers group training in Encino as well as personal training in Northridge.