You’re listening to Fish Grow Plants—A podcast all about practicing and sharing the love of aquaponics; hosted by Logan Schoolcraft.
Hello, and welcome to Fish Grow Plants! Today’s episode is all about three simple questions you must answer before you get started with aquaponics.
What do you want?
Why do you want it?
How many ways can you get it?
In short, those are the three questions. If you’d like them even shorter, just ask:
I’m not trying to be smart with you here, but by answering these questions before you get started, you will arm yourself with an objective, or outcome, and a purpose to guide you toward that outcome.
Does this sound strange?
Well, it did to me. At least it sounded overly simplified. But maybe that’s where the power in it comes from.
A little background here. I stumbled upon Tony Robbin’s work a while back, and I have to say, I’m not the same person anymore! (In a good way.) But one of his topics is time, or life, management, and his approach called RPM. Short for Results, Purpose, Massive Action Plan. I encourage you to take a look at what he has to offer, but for this episode we are going to stick with just a taste of what I’ve learned there.
So why am I asking you to answer these three questions?
If you have no clue what you want, how will you know if you ever get it? (I think there’s some similar line in Alice and Wonderland where the cat tells Alice about not knowing where you are going.) But we want to know where we are going!
It’s like getting in your car all juiced up to drive and then it hits you—you have no clue where you’re going!
I want to help you know where you are going, so when you get in that car, or start that aquaponic project, you know exactly where you are headed. Granted, you might not know if there is construction along the path, or if a wreck might happen. Heck, you might even hit bad weather. But! It’s all ok—if you know where you are going, all these other “things” are not enough reason to derail you. They won’t have you giving up and saying it can’t be done.
Think of it like this. If you knew you were going to go to grandma’s house for the weekend, would she be ok with you calling her back saying, “sorry grandma, the car was low on gas, there was rain on the interstate, and I think they were doing construction near your house, so I just gave up—it was too hard to find your house with all that stuff going on.”
She and I both would tell you to fill the car up, use your wipers and drive a little slower, and take the side road to avoid the construction. In short, there are a many ways to get to her house, as long as you know you want to get there and why you want to get there.
Ok. Let’s to put this into practice.
Step number one, ask, “What do I want?”
Specifically, “What is my ultimate result, outcome, end-goal, or final process?”
Be as specific as you can here. Be as measurable as you can here. And be as child-like as you can here. In other words, dream big, but make it specific and measurable.
Dream big to keep it juicy and worthwhile (so your inner kid will approve as well).
Be specific so your mind has a clear target and knows exactly what it needs to find, get, and put together.
Make sure it’s measurable, in common terms, so there is a metric, or a scale to know when you’ve achieved your result, and how much progress you’ve made toward reaching it.
Ok. I know, that’s a lot of words.
Find a comfortable chair, close your eyes, and picture the answer—think of it like a dream where you can make everything you want up. Get creative, get specific, and get happy.
When you have that picture in your mind, open your eyes, and quickly write down what you pictured. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect. If you have a few minutes, do it now…
Ok. Step number two. Ask, “Why do I want it?”
“What is my purpose for going after this goal, or starting this project?”
If you’re like I was the first time, you might be a little stumped. Don’t worry, it’s ok. I like to think of how the answer to question number one will make me feel.
Will I be happy?
Will I be proud?
Will it let me connect and share with others?
These are some starting questions to get my mind going. The reality is that this question is very personal. It relates to how fulfilled you will feel during and after the project.
There are no real wrong answers here, although I would use a word of caution. If you feel negatively, or nothing, it may be a clue that your goal, or project may not fulfill you and you may want to re-tool the project, or scrap it all together. I’m assuming that if you created your own goal from step one, you actually want to do the project.
So, for a little help here, get back in that comfy chair and close your eyes. When you picture your end result, how do you feel? What emotions are running through you? Are you feeling energized and empowered? How about relaxed, happy, and at peace?
Again, there are no wrong answers here, so when you get that feeling, open your eyes and write down the answer to “why I want it.”
Ok. Step number three. Ask, “how many ways can I get it?”
For most people, this is sort of the step they start with when they begin a project, but if they were like I was, they only ask, “how can I get this?” Not, “how many ways can I get this?”
There’s a difference—the first implies there is only one way while the second implies there are many. It is a slight distinction, but a strong one. Knowing you have many ways to “slay the dragon” sounds better than “slay the dragon”.
For this section, pull out your creative cap and start scribbling away. And don’t judge the possibilities—you are brainstorming here, so you want to get as many ideas down as you can without assessing them. So:
Sketch flow diagrams.
Think of people who can help you.
Think of books, courses, places, and equipments that can help you.
When you think you’ve listed all you can, maybe ask:
What else do I need?
Am I missing something here?
What would make this even better?
How could I do this with some friends and have some fun?
If I get stuck, who can I ask for help? Where can I go for help?
When you get done writing, sit back and smile. Ok, that’s something I do, but it feels good and I recommend it.
So, you just answered the three most important questions you needed to answer before starting down the road on your aquaponic adventure.
Again, I hope you took the time, or will take the time, to go through those three simple questions and give yourself the gift of clarity and direction. It is an amazing tool that you always have with you and can pull out to reassess any time you need to.
But I know that an example is usually much more effective, so I’m going to walk you through one now.
We need any example. Something that will make sense and be relatable to clarify this three-question process. To walk through these steps, I will use the example of something I have not done, but want to do so you can see the process as I do it…I hope!
Ok, here we go!
What do I want?
What is my ultimate result, outcome, end-goal, or process?
I’m going to try to be as specific and measurable as possible, remember?
For me, I want a computer data logging pH meter that logs the water pH of my system every 15 minutes, stores it in a text file, and plots it over time automatically so I can see the change in pH over time. Oh, I also want to be able to see the pH every time I go to my system. And I want this functional within six months.
So, was that clear enough?
Did I have some measurable results in there that another person could say I achieved?
I say yes. But reflect for a second yourself to see if you agree.
Ok, second question. Why do I want it?
“What is my purpose for going after this goal, or starting this project?”
I want this pH data logging system so I can go in real-time and see my pH any time I’d like, but more importantly so I can see what different activities I do have on the water pH. For example, when I harvest a lot of greens, what happens to the pH? When I plant, transplant, or clean up, or replace parts, what happens to the pH?
Achieving this goal would give me pleasure. I would feel happy. Pleased. I would be able to see the impact certain activities have on my system and fish. It will make me feel glad to know that I’m able to measure my impact on my fish and there wellbeing.
Oh, and it it’s just good nerd fun to build and make this stuff, so it’s extra fun points to me!
Ok. Final question.
How many ways can I get it?
I’ll be honest. I haven’t done much, actually any research here, so I don’t really even know what is possible or available.
But, I think I could just buy a system off the shelf. That’s an option.
I could buy individual parts and make my own system.
I could outsource it—just tell someone what I want and have them buy or make it.
I could work with someone else as a complimentary project; such as I provide the money and they provide the equipment and/or know-how to get it all together.
I could approach a college student looking for some extra work experience and money who is majoring in chemistry, or a related science that uses pH meters and data loggers.
I could also ask some follow up questions to myself or others to flush this idea out more and see where it takes me. Question like:
Am I missing something obvious here?
What would make this better? How could I take this up a level?
If I get stuck, who can I ask for help, or where can I go to get it?
Take a breath. I know I need to.
But I feel a lot better about going after this pH data logging project now that I’ve just asked and answered these questions with you.
You see, it doesn’t have to be perfect. When I listen to this recording, I’m probably going to think there was something wrong with my thinking for missing the “obvious” part I can’t think of right now. But that’s ok—because now I have a direction and clear reasons for why I want it and all those changes in approach are good. It means I am staying flexible and looking out for the best way to reach my end goal.
So, was that a crash course or what?
I know I tossed a lot your way this time, but I hope there has been a few golden nuggets you can walk away with. If nothing else, I hope you remember to at least ask yourself three simple questions before you get started on your aquaponic project:
Questions! Let me have them! Do you need clarification, more information, or maybe you just have a tangent thought—send all your thoughts my way. See the website fishgrowplants.com for episode details, or just fire off an email to email@example.com and I’ll get back to you.
So, was this episode good, bad, ugly, or other? Let me know! Comment, email, smoke-signals it doesn’t matter! I love to hear from you. Your feedback is immense, and I am always grateful for it. Likewise, thank you for taking the time to listen and share your thoughts. Have a wonderful day.
This has been another episode of Fish Grow Plants—the podcast all about practicing and sharing the love of aquaponics; hosted by Logan Schoolcraft.