This post is for those of us in a hurry. It’s for the impatient ones among us who want results quickly. Easily. Now. It is a reminder that long-term change – the kind which has the potential to become permanent – requires long-term commitment. If that sounds like too much to ask, there is a workaround: focus on the process rather than the results, and take it all one step at a time. That is where the real power lies. It does not come from irregular and exaggerated bursts of intention or activity. It comes from steady, quiet application on a regular basis over considerable time. Commit yourself to that and eventually you will see an unshakeable difference.
Anyone who has joined a gym with the intention of getting themselves into shape knows what it means to do too much too soon. We want to make a difference straight away, but overstretching ourselves can be demoralising because it leaves us worn out (maybe even injured) and with no motivation at all to repeat regularly whatever we have just done. Either that, or we don’t even make a start because the road ahead appears too daunting.
Our expectation frustrates us because we want results sooner than they appear. Any initial progress serves to increase our expectations to the point where disappointment becomes unavoidable. It is all built into the experience. Regardless of the project, the process is the same. Everywhere. For everyone. So instead of looking for results, calm down, see the process more clearly and learn to appreciate, for example, those days when the discipline of doing something is more important than what you do.
A yoga teacher once told me always to leave myself wanting more. That turned out to be a surprisingly difficult line for me to draw, because whenever I felt I could do more, I usually did, thinking I’d be better served going that extra distance while I could. But it meant I was always pushing myself. Punishing myself. At some point I would inevitably do too much and set my progress back weeks, or even months. In due course, however, I learnt that doing a little every day allowed me to tap into an unsung and formidable resource: time.
Some opponents of evolution have argued that there is no way nature could have accomplished such diversity with its hit-and-miss methods. But they overlook the vastness of the time frames involved in the development of life on earth. Similarly, we find it difficult to envisage the differences we can make to our lives when asked to perform relatively simple tasks such as observing and recording our behaviour. They seem insufficient, inadequate. The secret, though, is time. Given enough of it, everything is possible. Time is one of the most powerful tools we have. So take it. It’s all yours. Take your time and move forward gradually, step by step.