As I write this it is January and it’s cold and gross outside. Last year’s garden is but a memory and this year’s garden is still a few months off in the future. I have already gone on a seed buying binge and now it’s about time to sit down and set some garden goals. You can definitely grow some kick ass food without any goals or planning but if you want your BEST harvest then a little goal setting goes a long way.
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Last year I did do some planning but I skipped the goal setting step and I don’t want to make the same mistake this year. I don’t want you to make that mistake either! So let’s take a look at how to go about setting some garden goals for the garden this year.
Let’s be clear I can’t tell you what your goals should be and there no right or wrong goals. The point of this post is to give you the tools to figure out what are the right goals for YOU! So don’t worry about what other people’s goals are as they don’t factor into your goals.
Whenever I talk about goal setting in any situation, be it for the garden, personal goals, work related goals I always have to talk about making sure they are SMART goals. It’s actually an acronym, I’m not trying to be funny or judgey or anything.
Know YOUR why
Before going into any growing season I like to identify my why or mission statement for the upcoming year. This is a personal thing and there is no right or wrong. That said it is very important and useful to identify it BEFORE you start setting your goals. Setting goals is great, but if you don’t know WHY those goals are important then it can sometimes be hard to stick to them. Especially when times get tough or life throws you a curve ball.
So what exactly are SMART goals? Each letter represents an aspect you should try to incorporate into your goals when you are setting them. Let’s take a look at what each letter represents and then we can start setting some goals.
Now let’s walk through an example of coming up with and then refining a goal. I find that it’s always better to have an example. So let’s take the idea of wanting to grow food. That should be relevant to most people reading this blog post, or at least I hope it is!
Make your goals SPECIFIC
First off your goals should be detailed and clearly defined, we don’t want wishy washy commitments people! Start by thinking of one thing you want to achieve and then work at refining it so that it is specific.
INSTEAD OF: I want to grow my own food
TRY THIS: I want to grow my own food and be less reliant on the grocery store.
Keep your goals MEASURABLE
Now that we have a specific goal let’s try and refine it a bit more and add in a measurable portion. Why does this matter? Well if a goal isn’t measurable how can you truly say if you have met your goal of not? We add in measurability by attaching some form of number to our goal.
INSTEAD OF: I want to grow my own food and be less reliant on the grocery store.
TRY THIS: I want to grow 50% of my own food and be less reliant on the grocery store.
Are your goals ATTAINABLE?
Ok so our goal is specific and measurable and now we need to start asking ourselves if it is attainable. That is going to vary person to person. So in our goal our aim was to grow 50% of our food. That is no small task and will depend on do you have enough space to actually grow that much food. Do you have enough time to tend to all those plants. Are you able to grow 50% of the foods you actually eat? What is easily attainable by one person with the knowledge and resources they have at their disposal may be a pipe dream for someone else. You will need to consider if the goal is truly possible with hard work and the skills you have or could reasonably acquire.
INSTEAD OF: I want to grow 50% of my own food and be less reliant on the grocery store.
TRY THIS: I want to grow 10% of my own food and be less reliant on the grocery store.
Making your goals RELEVANT
Now is the time to question if the goal you have set is relevant. But how do you do that? A good place to start is by looking at whether the goal is in line with your other goals and your current lifestyle. It is also important to make sure that it relates back to your WHY.
INSTEAD OF: I want to grow 10% of my own food and be less reliant on the grocery store.
TRY THIS: I want to become more self-sufficient and grow 10% of my own food and be less reliant on the grocery store.
Keeping goals TIMEBOUND
Goals should not be open ended, if your goal seems too big then try breaking it down into smaller goals that you can define an “end” for. In the case of gardening goals they come with a handy built in end date of “this season”. If you were making smaller goals you could build some around “this month” or “this planting” if you are doing secession planting. Setting smaller goals especially when you are getting started is a great way to feel like you are making progress. It can also help to make things seem less overwhelming, especially when you are just getting started.
INSTEAD OF: I want to become more self-sufficient and grow 10% of my own food and be less reliant on the grocery store.
TRY THIS: I want to become more self-sufficient and grow 10% of my own food this growing season and be less reliant on the grocery store.
Hopefully you found this inspiring and helpful. I find the best way to commit to something is to write it down. You can download my Garden Goals worksheet below which walks you through defining your why and setting 3 garden goals for the upcoming season. It’s great to get it on paper or written down digitally and then you can reflect back on it at the end of the growing season.
So why does all this matter? Well, taking the time to sit down and set garden goals helps to act as a guide for your whole gardening season. They help to define what success will look like for you. They are personal and nobody can tell you they are wrong. If you get stuck or face a hurdle in the growing season look back at your goals for help in how to deal with it.