Only those who have patience to do simple things perfectly ever acquire the skill to do difficult things easily. – James J. Corbett
So, how are your New Years resolutions coming along? Have you given them up yet? Probably not (and I hope you don’t). It’s probably a little too early to give up on them yet; we are only a couple of weeks into the new year. I am sure some of you have wavered a little from your initial goal. I’ll be honest, I have had my moments.
One of my struggles in life has always been my lack of patience and fortitude to follow through on my objectives. Growing up in a generation obsessed with instant gratification, I have become lazy in getting to the finish line in most things I do. I simply do not have the patience to follow through and I am always looking for shortcuts to the finish line. Somewhere along the way, I had lost my desire to savour the body of work. This bad habit of quitting and procrastination has cropped up in my career, my home life and my personal hobbies. This vicious cycle of excitement, anxiety and then drop, has robbed me of living a goal driven and fulfilled life.
For years I have always wanted to learn to play guitar. I had one kicking around my house for a few years and every time I picked it up to play, I got discouraged because the strings hurt my fingers or I was sloppy with my picking. I wrote myself off as a failure for not being able to play a song after an hour of trying. This past Christmas I had asked for an electric guitar as my gift. I resolved to myself to practice at least a half an hour a day on it. So every day since opening the box, I have practiced various techniques and songs but at times along the way, I was growing frustrated. I was getting frustrated that I couldn’t master a certain tab or nail down a simple hammer-on. I had brief moments of giving up; maybe I am just not cut out for guitar playing. But this time around is different, I told myself, I will quit tomorrow, NOT today. Then I had noticed that the next night when I sat back down to take another stab at it, I was able to do what I wasn’t able to do the night before. Patience and perseverance were beginning to pay off. Every dirty and tough day I will tell myself to quit tomorrow, but not today.
Between guitar lessons, I reminded myself of my successful yet still incomplete resolve to stop smoking nearly 5 years ago. I say incomplete as stopping smoking is not something that is ever done, every day I need to remain smoke-free and for the last 4 1/2 years, I have done just that. As I battle through those rough days of learning guitar I keep reminding myself of the patience that I have put in with stopping smoking. While holding that guitar every night, I remind myself that today may be a challenge and I may not get very far, but I am successful for not giving it up today. Moving forward and even moving back a little is far better than stopping altogether.
The takeaway from this story is that we need relive our past successes to be that spark to light our desires for a more fulfilling life. The hard part is getting the fuel needed to use that spark. That fuel is patience. Patience is a commodity that not a lot of us have in surplus yet we spend it with reckless abandon. We spend our patience watching hours of mind-numbing television or patiently worrying about things or getting angry at someone else. Unfortunately, we end up not spending our patience on things that will move us forward. If our past success is the spark and our patience is the fuel, combined they will light that fire under our proverbial asses to live more enriched lives and allow us to achieve the great things that we are unwisely using our patience watching others achieve.