No, I’m not a Buddhist monk. I haven’t found Nirvana. I’m not Christ, either. Quite the contrary; I feel as impatient as everyone else. If I want to lose weight, I want to lose it right now. Okay, maybe in three days. I want to get in shape immediately, preferably without any hard work (yeah, right). I want to become a great writer now. And to write for a living right this instant, preferably without having to look out for gigs.
As the song goes, I want it all, and I want it now.
What? Oh, yeah, sure, I’ll wait for you to listen to the song first. The song is great. The Queen is great.
You’re back? That’s great, too.
The thing is, if something is worth it, it doesn’t happen overnight. Lose weight quickly? Not impossible, to a certain amount, but you’ll quickly regain it, and you might gain even more than you previously had. Gain strength quickly by doing push-ups all day? With pauses, I guess it would be possible, except that you’d spend the next 7 days or so in pain.
And so on, and so forth.
I know, I tried some of it. And I discovered that thinking about it as a long-term project is the way to go.
If it’s a short-term project, say, you eat less, but then you overeat at the friend’s graduation party? You’ll get disappointed, think bad of yourself, and give up. But if you think of it as a long-term goal, well, okay, that one overeating will slow you down, but that’s about it. You’ll keep going, and sooner or later, you’ll get there.
Writing? Nothing happens overnight. It’s years of effort and trying and learning and erring and failing and feeling terrible and disappointed and occasionally good. Or decades. And you can never say Yes, that’s it, this is perfect, because there’s always room for improvement (and because you’re well aware that that particular dialogue is lousy, but you had the deadline, and couldn’t think of anything better). But if you think of it as a long-term (as in, your entire life) project? Then you’re learning, and improving yourself, and becoming better. And you’ll make it, in spite of all the bumps in the road.
If you want it immediately and don’t get it, you feel hurt and disappointed. But if you want it at some point and don’t get it immediately, well, you didn’t get it now, but it doesn’t mean you won’t get it at all.
So… Take your time. Make it a long-term plan. And you’ll accomplish it.