Due to the nature of my job, I spend a lot of time in Outlook. As such, there are days when I have to scroll my sent folder quite a bit to find an email I'd composed only hours before. But then there are days in which I find I haven't sent very many emails at all. One of the first times I noticed this in my current job, I wondered if it meant I wasn't working hard that day. Of course, that isn't true nor is it the correct way to look at things. I had accomplished a lot that day, whether or not my inbox reflected it.
There's a quote by Treasure Island author, Robert Louis Stevenson, that I love that says, "Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant."
I think about this quite often in work and in my personal life. There are days where I feel as though I am flying through my to-do list and checking things off left and right. On those days, it is easy to confidently feel like I am accomplishing a lot.
But then there are also days where I feel like I am planting seeds. I am diligent and focused but it doesn't seem like anything actually gets moved off my to-do list, rather just shifted around. And when you stack too many of those days together and don’t feel as though you have anything to show for it, that can be discouraging.
And still, there is endless value in planting. And there are endless examples of planting that may go unnoticed or appreciated. The Saturday I spent reading and cooking and relaxing may not seem like I was particularly productive. But I planted big seeds that day.
I planted seeds that showed me that it's okay to rest when you are tired and to do restorative things when your mind is craving peace. That time was perfectly spent nourishing my soul and giving my body time to unwind after what had been an extraordinarily busy few weeks.
Zora Neale Hurston, author of Their Eyes Were Watching God, writes, “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”
I think we can break this down further into days and hours. There are mornings I need answers. Mornings I will be focused and productive and I will harvest. And there are mornings I will question. Mornings I will wake up slowly and delicately and move through the day with curious wonder. Time when I will plant.
It may not be immediately obvious. That is to say, you might not realize you are planting seeds. But in those simple intentional actions where you choose to take care of yourself and prioritize your own mental wellbeing, you are setting yourself up for sustainable, healthy, and authentic success. And that is something worth harvesting.