Growing Tomatoes. Finding Joy in the Journey.

2009 is officially the Year of the Garden (2010 is the Year of the Laying Hen, but that’s for another day).

Of all the plants we set to nurture and grow, the ones I looked forward to the most were the tomato plants.

Had I known that I would start the Tomato Journey the weekend after Mother’s Day, and only a few weeks ago actually enjoy the fruit (or vegetable? it’s debated often) of my labors…I may have never started in the first place. It is inevitably harder to do something where the fruits can’t be enjoyed for some time.

Like getting out of debt.

Or saving for retirement.

Or even growing tomatoes.

The key is to find joy in the journey.

I distinctly remember being very excited about different Victory Stages in the tomato plants’ life:

– Growth. I could see they were growing taller.
– Suckers. I had something to prune, and that was very satisfying.
– Blossoms. This was HUGE. Where there’s a blossom, there will soon be a tomato.
– Tiny tomatoes. Very tiny. But I was still ecstatic.
– Larger green tomatoes. Now it was just a matter of waiting for the color to change.
– Tomato goodness for dinner.

What kind of joy can you find in your journey to pay off your debt? What smaller goals or stages can you point to and feel victorious?

I’m thankful Julie and I don’t have any consumer debt, but I have to be honest that I can’t stand having a mortgage. We’re paying it down as aggressively as we possibly can, and I’ve mentally broken it down into Victory Stages:

< 250,000 < 200,000 < 150,000 < 100,000 < 50,000 < 25,000 < 10,000 < 1,000 = 0 Mentally, I see each of those milestones as significant, in one way or another. Especially the last one. Your Victory Stages for paying off your debt may look something like this: – No more Capital One – < $5,000 on the Visa – < $1,000 on the Visa – Visa gone! – Truck paid off – < $20,000 on the student loan Growing tomatoes is easy when compared to some of these other longer journeys that must be taken. Our tomato season will probably last about four months. How long will your journey of debt reduction last? One year? Three years? That type of long haul requires that you find joy in the journey. The most arduous journey of all is setting aside funds for retirement. The process begins (hopefully) when we’re in our twenties and doesn’t end until we retire! What types of smaller, bite-sized goals can you achieve in regards to your retirement? What points along the way will bring you satisfaction? These long hauls are tough, that goes without saying. But you can make it if you choose to enjoy the victories, small and large, along the way.