While some people have a problem with sailing their boat out of the safe harbour and into the raging seas, some of us have a problem with learning to slow down and mindfully approach our goals, understanding that quality change takes time and even small daily progress is better than no progress at all. If we fail to be mindful and stay focused on one thing at a time, we just end up in frustration and, ultimately, give up on everything, accomplishing nothing. That’s why it is important to approach our goals with patience, realistic expectations and a positive attitude.
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I remember how when I was about 5 years old I used to spend time with one of my old great-aunts while she was gardening. And every time she did her gardening she would light up a cigarette, and then another one… and then another one. One day, because I really cared about her and loved spending time with her, I told her, “If you want to be around for another 20 years you should quit smoking… because I really like spending time with you, auntie.” She then smiled and said, “But I can’t… I just can’t quit, Robert, I tried… Two or even three weeks in a row. “ And I almost felt her sadness when she said that. So I continued, “For how long have you smoked, auntie?” She thought for a second then she replied, “I don’t know… it has to be more than 30 years probably.” And that’s when I asked her a question that I also ask myself every time I get frustrated while trying to change my life overnight and forget that transformation is a process: “If you’ve done it for more than 30 years then why do you think and expect that you could quit in just three weeks?”
Now, ever since then, I’ve learn a lot about habits and I know that it doesn’t take you 30 years to quit an unhealthy habit if you’ve practised it for 30 years. Quitting a bad habit, replacing it with a healthy one, or simply making new habits doesn’t have to take forever. It only takes about a maximum of 30 days. But, the point is, we need to be realistic about progress and accept that we can’t turn a lifetime mess into an overnight diamond. It will require us to invest time and effort into making things happen day after day after day. The beauty here is that by doing so we also make sure that everything we build is strong and stable and once a new brick has been added to the bridge that will take us closer to accomplishing our goals, that brick is gonna last. We have to be intentional about it, however, and remind ourselves everyday that it’s okay to enjoy the journey and live in the present while sculpting our future.
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