Never, ever chat with a mature well-trained teacher (even if he or she is on holiday) about making and breaking New Years Resolutions. My mistake, as I introduced the topic with a friend while we aquajogged in the swimming pool on New Year's Eve.
Stake the Dahlias!
New Year's Resolutions? She didn't believe in them personally. I chipped in - I always have the same ones, and I never manage to keep any. My favourite is to remember next year to stake the dahlias. This is a great New Year's Resolution, since these plants start flowering in January, and non-staked dahlias flowering at ground level are fairly obvious.
You have to set 'smart goals' which are attainable, said my friend, and, what's more, you have to then provide the 'smart framework' for them to be successful. Aargh! Nobody can be more instructively helpful than a teacher on holiday.
It goes something like this. Immediately I've written this article I get a bucket and label it 'Dahlia Stakes'. OK. I can do this - if I can find my permanent marker pen. I choose a prominent place for the bucket - perhaps the front porch?
Now I address the provision of the 'smart framework'. I ask myself politely when I should be staking these floppy dahlias. Possibly about November? I should know the answer to this! But I never really notice the dahlias until they've flopped over with flowers...
Ha! Now let the rendering of the New Year's Smart Resolution begin. For I must start collecting dahlia stakes, and popping them deftly into that well-named bucket. How many will I need by next November? This gives me my monthly quota. And each month I must do a stake count, and write the number up on my kitchen notice board. Aargh! I don't have one - that's my next job.
By November that bucket should be full. And hopefully nobody will have had the nerve to move it out of the way, or use the stakes therein for other garden purposes. Certainly (if my permanent ink hasn't faded) it should be obvious to all passers-by that I am collecting something terribly important.
I've asked my friend about the usefulness of having written instructions for myself pinned up on e.g. the toilet door. 'HAVE YOU COLLECTED TODAY'S DAHLIA STAKES?' She says no - this is old-school thinking, and could well trigger a rebellious negative response. Smart goals work positively, with self-encouragement and warm fuzzy signposts, and perhaps a reward (like buying a new rose) when I reach 50 stakes. Phew!
My whole gardening attitude could benefit from setting 'smart goals'. My front porch covered in well-labelled buckets, one housing my ill-kept and much neglected garden tools so I won't lose them... Ha! This immediately suggests my New years Resolution Number Two...