Success is about learning how the world works and aligning our actions accordingly. This is true in every area of life.

In our careers, success is about figuring out which skills are most valued in our profession and developing those skills to the best of our ability. In our relationships, success is about figuring out others' needs and how to meet them.

We all have strengths and weaknesses that help and hinder our efforts to align our actions with pre-existing laws. The problem is, it’s difficult to notice our own tendencies—how we generally react to different situations. Being a good student of one’s own behavior is really, really hard.

Here’s one way to do it, though: start a vegetable garden.

A vegetable garden is a medium-term project, unfolding over the course of one growing season (roughly May-October, here in the American Midwest). Over that period of time, you can really see your own tendencies at play.

For instance, I struggle to let things be. I like to tinker, tweak, and over-optimize. Every year, the garden reminds me to let go, to realize that I’m not in control and I might as well remember that from time to time.

And there’s no better example of a project that requires adherence to natural laws. When the gardener lets nature take the lead, everything seems to work out. When the gardener gets too creative, meddles constantly, or tries to grow beefsteak tomatoes with 4 hours of daily sunlight, nature teaches them a lesson.

So consider starting a garden and using it as a laboratory for observing your own behavior. And, you know, as a way to get your hands on some beefsteak tomatoes.