Some things just take time.
A strong marriage takes time. Losing weight takes time. Cultivating a friendship takes time. Building wealth (or getting out of debt) takes time. Training children takes time. Getting an education. Growing a garden.
Getting the picture?
Unfortunately, many of us sacrifice too quickly what could be really great investments in our future because they just, well, take too much time (or effort).
I’m thinking about the husband or wife who bails on a spouse because it’s “not good,” at least, not now. The person who spends his savings, or who throws in the towel and declares bankruptcy because discipline takes too much time (and effort).
Dumping a friend.
Leaving a church.
Quitting a job.
Dropping out of school.
Obviously there can be legitimate reasons for many of these. That’s not my point. My point is:
What are we doing to cultivate patience and discipline so we can get the really great pay-off that comes from perseverance?
What are we doing, one step at a time, to achieve our higher goals?
I wanted to lose a few pounds and it seemed SO OVERWHELMING, especially when all the reliable sources I was reading were telling me the only good way to do it was the old-fashioned and slightly tedious way: counting calories (ugh!). So I found something to help me be disciplined and work toward my goal (I used Every Day Health’s Food and Fitness Journal). I lost 12 pounds in eight weeks.
I wanted to increase my running distance and it seemed SO OVERWHELMING, so I just started noting the trees along the path in the park where I run. This time I’ll run to that tree. Next time I run to the next tree. The next time I’ll shoot for the next tree, or that fence up ahead, or the pond on the other side of the grove. Now I’m running way further than I used to and I’m still increasing my stamina.
What’s your seemingly overwhelming circumstance? Is it your marriage? Your finances? An education? A new career? Here are some ideas for getting off the starting blocks and into the race:
1. Start with an articulated goal.
2. Identify steps or strategies to accomplish it (or find a tool that can help you, like the calorie counting tool on Every Day Health or Dave Ramsey’s Debt Snowball plan or a savings plan on Mint.com.
3. Take one step at a time.
4. Celebrate small victories.
5. Don’t give up if you stumble. Pick yourself up and keep going.
6. Tell others what you’re doing. Tell YOURSELF what you’re doing. Say it out loud.
7. Follow through. Finish strong. You can do it. You’ll be glad you did.
Successful people don’t necessarily have better circumstances than others. Nor are they, generally speaking, particularly more lucky than others. More often than not, they’ve been learning the discipline of patience and endurance. Because of it, they’re experiencing the payoff of perseverance.
You know the old adage: How do you eat an elephant?
One bite at a time.
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope … (Romans 5:3-4)