Saturday, February 2, 2019

It Takes As Long As It Takes

Hello, Invisible Audience,

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the parameters I feel compelled to adhere to in our Western Society – about the idea I’ve had that there is a checklist I must complete before I’m 40. Every day I’m inundated by ads and huge, powerful messages that tell me that I can take control of my finances, have the beach body I crave, have better health, better sex, better relationships, and if I start today I’ll get them within 90 days or less or my money back!

No wonder I’m tired.

If I’m going to be honest about it, the truth is that change in my life has never gone quite that direction for me. All the lasting changes I’ve made to my life have taken years to come together. They usually included one step forward, four back, a dosey doe to the side, and a heck of a lot of side trips to the dump before I can get there.

This is rather hard to admit. It feels like our culture says that if you can’t achieve the results you want in the time you’ve set for yourself (or someone’s program has set for you) you’re utterly failing at life: you’re lazy; undisciplined; or clearly you don’t want it enough. 

What utter bullshit. 

We can’t force kids to leap from 8 to 18 in 90 days just because we tell them they should. We can’t hurry fall when it’s spring. There’s a certain amount of time that it takes to get from point A to point B. Certainly we can work on making that amount of time shrink, but we cannot eliminate the fact that there is distance between the two.

Let me be clear: I am not saying change is not possible, or that it cannot be done. I am simply saying that I have struggled for YEARS to try and figure out why I was “failing” at accomplishing something when the truth was that I hadn’t failed – I just hadn’t accomplished the thing in the time I was told I should take to do it.

Ten years ago, I quit a corporate job in Bellevue to become a writer. I gave myself a year to get myself published. Well, that didn’t happen. It’s true that I ended up self publishing a book within about a year, but that was not what I had set out to do, and it was not the book I longed to write. 

Ten years later, I’ve self published two more books, and I don’t actively market or sell those books anymore. I don’t make my entire living as a writer, but I do write freelance articles and blog posts, mostly for the private sector, and I get paid pretty well for it. If you’d told me when I started this was where I’d end up, I would have been disappointed. Where are the riches and the following and the authorship I thought I would get after a year of working to get published? 

I never learned that these processes can take a lifetime, Invisible Audience. I never learned that the best way to make progress is one small forward step at a time, not giant leaps and life changes (although I’ve done both with varying levels of success.) It has only been recently that I realized that I get a lot more bang for my buck with small, incremental changes that build upon one another. In fact, the less I beat myself up for where I think I’m “supposed” to be, the more likely the change I decide to make will stick. 

·     My diet is the best it’s ever been. Finally, I’m not tired in the middle of the day and I can concentrate. It’s taken more than 10 years to get there.
·     I’m more emotionally healthy than I’ve ever been. It’s taken a lifetime to get to this point.
·     I’m more financially stable than I could have ever imagined being. It’s taken years of experimenting with different kinds of budgets, tracking, and giving myself permission to spend money on the things I personally consider important to get here...not to mention letting go of the ideas of what financially stable "should" look like.
·     I’m working on being physically healthier. Every time I try to rush the process, I experience a huge setback. All that has worked so far is small, incremental changes.

It takes as long as it takes, Invisible Audience. And sometimes, it takes a long time.

Love and however long it takes kisses,

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