“Personal change happens invisibly and incrementally. Just because you can’t see your little daily shifts doesn’t mean you’re not progressing.”
The message in that quote is something I have to remind myself of daily. I’m naturally a fast-paced person, so it’s easy for me to get discouraged when the results I’m going after don’t come quickly. But this is a basic fact of life. Really good things, really important things, take time. They take practice. It’s all the little steps added together that bring the big result. But there are two sides to this coin to consider.
The good news
The most inspiring aspect of this truth is that as long as we’re taking steps in the direction we want to go, we will get there. If you want to get there faster you just have to put more steam into it. Don’t be discouraged that you are not making headway on your goals, if you are working on them on a regular basis then you are making headway. Life is just a bigger version of all the little journeys we take within it.
If you want to start your own business and you are taking at least one step every day to set that up, you will get there. If you want to buy a sailboat and you’re setting aside some money each paycheck for that expense, you will get there. How soon you get there just depends on how brisk your stride but even a walking pace will get you there eventually. The Tortoise and the Hare.
The bad news
The hard part to accept about this truth is that even the small not-so-good things we do, when done consistently, are leading us down the road too. This is how you find yourself with an unintended result. This is how you end up on the, How did this happen? How did I get here? Is this all there is? road. Not fun.
For example, when I was wasting time in my twenties not buckling down on my studies but blowing them off to party with my friends every night, I convinced myself that because I wasn’t getting any immediate negative feedback (other than hangovers), that perhaps I could get away with it. Maybe I wasn’t really wasting my time. Each day I got up and no one was mad at me. I didn’t drop any major balls, or so I thought. There was no obvious hit-you-over-the-head consequence from my behavior. So what was the big deal?
Later of course I realized how near sighted I had been. I had not yet figured out that even when you can’t see the scenery whizzing by, you are still moving down the road. That’s the thing . It’s really about how you spend your time. Whether you are watching too much tv, not spending time with your family, eating french fries with every meal, or just wasting your days, if you are doing little self-destructive or unhealthy things regularly and you are not seeing the immediate fallout from it don’t think it won’t catch up with you.
Ask yourself what have I done TODAY to move toward my goals and the life I want to be living? If you can’t think of something, and this goes on for more than a few days, you may want to look out the window at your life because you may be headed down an entirely different road.
****Check out this wonderful two minute video The Years are Short from Gretchen Rubin of the Happiness Project, it captures this message in a very poignant light.