Time to Plant a New Habit

children gardening with help of adult woman - © Shannon Fagan - FangXiaNuo/E+/Getty Images

Back when so many of us in this country were farmers, when more of us lived in the country than in cities, we understood in our very bones that spring was the season for planting. Some of us still sense this when the weather warms and the days grow longer. We plant vegetable gardens or create container gardens in our small city spaces. Spring breezes inspire us to dig in the dirt and begin our own little kingdoms of beauty.

Might we apply more broadly this metaphor of planting? Can we allow spring to inspire us to plant habits that can produce good work and well-being later on?

What seeds would you like to plant?

  • More intentional physical activity
  • More cooking from scratch
  • More time with people who are important to you
  • More quiet time for prayers of gratitude
  • More energy on your gifts than on daily trivia
  • More of your talent going outward to help others
  • More giving up what is not important

How can you plant a seed this week that can grow into a character quality or a good habit? What is required?

Some sort of plan. For instance, my arthritis is acting up in multiple parts of my body. I know from experience that certain stretches and exercises alleviate some of the pain and keep me more flexible and thus more active. So the seed I will plant this week will be a gentle and doable exercise plan. I won’t even do anything new; these are stretches and actions I’ve done before, some of them in physical therapy. But I need a plan.

One good act to begin with—the seed you will plant. I will add one short set of stretches to my routine before I walk the dog early each morning. That’s all for now. Perhaps next week I will add some strength-building exercises to my before-bed routine. But I start with just a seed.

Proper care of that seed. Seeds need food and water; they need weeds kept away and exposure to the sun. I can’t do my morning stretches in a hurry, so my “weeding” will eliminate whatever gets in the way of getting up early enough. That means less television late at night.

Assessment. After I’ve planted flowers, herbs, or vegetables, I look at them every day to see how they’re doing. If I don’t pay attention, I won’t know the best time to water, weed, or feed them. I will need to assess how these morning stretches are helping or not. I will probably adjust them, adding one that works better and stopping one that’s not working. I will also notice how I feel during the day and assess how the stretches are helping knees, ankles, hips, and neck.

I chose physical exercise as my spring “seed,” but this metaphor can work for any kind of beginning a person might want or need. You can plant a habit of prayer or contemplation, a weekly e-mail to a friend, or more frequent contributions of time or money to a charitable organization.

What seed will you plant this week, in honor of spring and the ever-new life God has given us?


  1. Vinita, I finished reading your book, The Art of Spiritual Writing, at a time when Spring has finally sprung here in Utah. I love the annual renewal of the Earth that occurs each year. A regeneration of personal energy, both physical and mental, seems to accompany what is happening around me. Your inspiring book has prompted me to set writing goals. I never run out of writing ideas, only time to implement them. I decided I need more structure to succeed. I plan to write on Friday, edit on Monday, and post to my blog on Wednesday. I will have to give up some online window shopping to be successful. :o)

  2. Thanks for writing a quality post about starting a habit on how to improve your life. I was just thinking about this today as I was balancing emails, work projects, home life, et al. Planting a seed and tending to it is a fine methaphor. I need the seed to land in good soil and take deep root rather than in thorns or rocks.

  3. Vinita, thank you for this motivating reflection which has nudged me to be more intentional in making certain that I get out and walk daily. Blessings!


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