There is a balance between being patient with yourself, and encouraging yourself to actually get things done.
Oftentimes we have to treat ourselves like small children. We have to reward ourselves with snacks, set time apart for naps, make sure our schedule is in line. Things become messy when we realize the person who will reward us is usually us. It’s easy to be our child-self, far more difficult to convince ourselves to be adults.
Being an adult seems like its own world when you’re a child. It is a set of concepts we associate with responsibility and personal power: opening accounts, setting a budget, going grocery shopping, going to work, etc. It seems foreign to those who haven’t done it, terrifying, really.
But it’s a challenge like every other we face. We learn things one by one. We walk to a place, we fill out a form, and we ask questions when we aren’t sure.
Being “adult” is more or less scary to different individuals, but the same idea holds for a lot of things. Fundamentally, we build things up in our head. We make mole hills into mountains and that makes the prospect of climbing them far more difficult. No matter how complicated a task, we break it down into simpler steps. No matter how important a decision is, the moments leading up help give us the necessary information.
So be patient with yourself on the little things, but get those little things done. All of the huge weights we create are an accumulation of little bits we can handle.
Here’s a secret: a majority of things take time. The best things are part of that number. We aren’t who we are because of single events. Most everything has a lead-up, a series and a habit of thinking and acting. Whether it’s crime and abuse or generosity and charity, human behaviors don’t come out of the blue.
That’s why one of the most challenging parts of life is something we overlook: the ordinary days. We see celebrities on TV shows and think it’s a one time work of chance that throws the spotlight on them. However, working hard isn’t something you can decide to do once. Working hard is a pattern you develop every day. Ordinary days are the easiest to overlook, but they are the meat of our life. Our worst days and happiest days are nothing compared to the sheer power of numerosity of our ‘regular’ days. That’s why mindfulness, meditation, and religions tend to encourage people to use their day to the best of their potential.
And yet, our mortality and own sanity must be considered. The long game isn’t the only thing that matters. If we’re consistently miserable, how awful a thing in the space of our limited life! We should be able to find a way to balance enjoying the moment with working towards the future.
A good rule of thumb is to be prepared for the future, have an rough roadmap of how you’re getting to your long term goals, but once you get those bits set up, enjoy your day. More practically, this means making a budget, sticking to the budget, setting aside money for an emergency fund, and all that boring stuff we know we should do but don’t. However, once you get that bit of ‘adulting’ out of the way, go make kraft mac and cheese if you want. Have a picnic in your living room. Watch a good show that makes you happy. Things take time. It’s frustrating to be on the path but not where you want to be. However, where we are can be something special, if we let it. If things take time, enjoy the time.