The Law of the Harvest
Ever meet a farmer who takes shortcuts in his work? Neither have I. The farmer knows that nature doesn’t do shortcuts. You clear the land, till the earth, and plant the seeds. You fertilize, weed, and water day-after-day. You do your work and let time and nature do their thing. Only then, after a lot of hard work and patience, does the harvest come. Then, even bringing in the harvest is more work.
Can you imagine telling an old-time farmer that he could skip planting, but still harvest anyway? Or that he could plant without tilling the earth? Or how about that he could skip the watering through the hot months July and August? He would probably shake his head, look at you narrowly with an eye of disdain, and just keep walking to his tractor. He’s got no time or patience for your nonsense.
Most of you didn’t grow up on a farm. I didn’t either. But it’s still just as important to understand the Law of the Harvest: You only reap what you first sow.
There is an order to it. It’s not complex. It’s not magical. And it’s certainly not glamorous.
Instead it’s downright simple. But it’s not easy. It’s wisdom hiding in plain sight. And in today’s world of shortcuts and schemes, it’s common sense uncommonly applied.
How This Applies To You
Instead of the farm, most of us learned our work ethic in school. Only school, unlike nature, didn’t do a very good job teaching us the Law of the Harvest. Schools teach us how to “cram.” Forget putting in the time slowly over the semester by building a strong foundation and learning how all the pieces fit together. That takes too much time and effort! Instead of planting, watering, and then harvesting, many of us found ourselves wanting to jump straight to the harvest.
You know what I’m talking about. Starting around junior high, we all learned to game the system. The night before the test, we’d hurry to memorize facts, figures, dates, and events. Binge and purge. It wasn’t real learning. But it worked, and all too often, we decided it was the best way. Now, if we are really honest with ourselves, we know that by following this approach, we shortchanged ourselves. We went to school, yes, but were we truly educated?
How many of us hang on to this cramming approach in other areas of our lives? We put off saving. We put off exercising. We put off spending time in the relationships that matter. Somehow we think that we’ll be able to hurry and get it all done later. This is pure self-deception. At its core, cramming is really just procrastination combined with a heavy dose of “freak out” at the end.
However, the important things in life don’t work this way. You can’t cram in some physical fitness just before your heart attack. You can’t cram some savings just before retirement. You can’t cram experience, knowledge, and relationships into your life just before you die. Building health, wealth, and wisdom doesn’t work this way. It’s slow and steady investment, day-after-day. You have to pay the price.
The best time to have planted a tree is 20 years ago; the next best time is today. Plant the seeds of your future today (and tomorrow, and the next day). Here are some ways to do it:
- Create a morning ritual that incorporates investing in the most important things in your life (I call this the FirstHabit)
- Learn to wake up early so that you have some quiet time to “plant seeds and tend your crops”
- Find an approach to exercise that eliminates excuses and becomes a daily habit
- Automate your savings (create an automatic deduction from your paycheck so you won’t even miss it)
- Find one recurring expense that adds little value to your life, eliminate it, and save the difference
- Read from great literature for 20 minutes a day (even better if you can find a friend to read and discuss it with)
- Listen to books or educational podcasts on your commute
- Schedule (and defend) regular time with the people you care about (family nights, date nights, etc.)
- Practice your talents (musical, sports, public speaking, writing)
I’m sure you can think of many others. The point is to do small things daily that will build over time. Forget cramming. There are no shortcuts to meaningful results. Not for the farmer, and not for you either.
What do you think? Did cramming in school become a habit for you? What things do you do daily to plant for your tomorrow? Share below!