I can be impatient.
Like, seriously impatient.
Once I decide I want to learn something or accomplish something or build something or renovate something (are you getting the idea yet?), I impatiently want to dive in headfirst and DO IT ALL RIGHT NOW!!!
Which looks like motivation for about five minutes and then quickly turns to overwhelm (cue the “ohmygod there is soooooooooooo much to do here” voice of panic).
My most common pitfall?
I vastly underestimate the amount of time something actually takes.
Replying to emails…I allot 30 minutes and it ends up taking 90 (and that’s without the side trip into the interwebs to look up an answer to a question).
Writing a blog post…I forget about the fact that I also need to choose images and prep them and upload the whole thing to the actual blog, so one hour turns into three.
I want to run for an hour…oops, I forgot the 20 minute drive to and from the trailhead plus the shower afterward.
And don’t even get me started on home renovation projects…accounting for the 647 runs to the hardware store for the right sized screws or one more piece of lumber or another can of paint, or- god forbid- needing an actual professional contractor to come do some part of the work (go ahead and tack on weeks at that point).
This seems ridiculous, but I know I’m not alone in this pitfall. Right? Right?
We're excited. We want to see things happen. We want to see progress and growth and change.
And we want to see them yesterday.
The thing is, we knooooooow that that’s not how things work.
We know that fast growth is usually an illusion built on a shaky and unstable foundation that never holds up over time.
Because it’s simply not sustainable.
Think of the weight you lost when you decided to crash diet your way into that bridesmaids dress when you were 22. Sure, that last five pounds came off for one hot minute, but when you put anything more substantial into your body than a lettuce leaf, it all came back plus some.
Or the all-nighters that got you through your college finals. Right up until you slept through that last one.
Or. Or. Or.
I’m sure you can think of six examples right off the top of your head of times you went for the insta-fix instead of the long-term solution and it didn’t really work in the end. (And if you can’t, well, congratulations…you are a better human than I am.)
Here’s what we forget: SUSTAINABILITY MATTERS.
Showing up consistently over time gets us further than intermittent bursts do. Every single time. Seriously.
Does this sound a whole lot like the old “slow and steady wins the race” thing? It should, because it is. It’s just like that.
Because it’s true.
It’s easy to forget that more often than not, SLOW IS FAST. At least in the sense that slow actually gets you where you’re going eventually (which is faster than fast not getting you there at all? Okay, hold on…this is getting twisty...)
I know that grinding away slowly at your goals makes for a shitty Instagram story. And it doesn’t get many re-tweets. Or pins. And #hustle feels like the opposite of whatever is happening at your desk or on your treadmill or in the bathroom you’re renovating that currently has no walls.
The grind is not sexy. The grind is not cute.
The grind occasionally looks like staring at a computer with nothing to say and worrying that you will never have anything to say.
The grind occasionally looks like getting to that workout at 8pm after the kids have gone to bed because you promised yourself and now you have to do push-ups instead of watching the newest episode of The Walking Dead.
The grind occasionally looks like putting a whole lot of work (or money, or time) into something that, in the end, simply doesn’t work.
The grind occasionally looks like one step forward and a 3/4 step back (it occasionally feels like that’s ALLthe grind looks like).
What it always looks like is showing up. And showing up again. And showing up again. And again. And again.
And you know how we’re able to do that? (hint: it rhymes with bubainability…)
Yup! That’s right!
By growing slowly enough that we leave time for taking care of our bodies and our sanity and our responsibilities.
By learning how long things actually take and leaving enough time to actually do them (instead of putting 27 things on our to-do list that can’t possibly get done in a single day/week/month and then flogging ourselves for being gigantic failures for not managing to do them all and then flopping into a big puddle of overwhelm).
That often looks like a lot less things on the to-do list, but- shocker!- more of the to-do list actually gets done. Which means prioritizing what goes on that to-do list in the first place. (Here’s another hint: if you have 10 most-important-tasks on your list this week, that’s too many…every goal only has one next step…maybe just begin with that? You can always add the next step if you get done faster than you expected.)
Have you ever heard the whole, “What do you call the guy who graduated last in his class from medical school? Doctor!” thing? Well, that applies here:
What do you call growth that happens slowly?
You’ve got this.
By the way…if you really have no idea how long things take you, try tracking your time for a little while! You can write it down with pen and paper or I’ve been using a free tool called Toggl (there’s an app too) that I’ve been using for awhile and found super useful! Not an ad or anything- it’s just been useful to me!