Trust the Process

One of the issues I battle with daily, is patience. Patience in reaching goals and reducing the obsessive behavior linked with achieving these goals . What this usually means, is that I’ll drop my focus from everything else and solely focus on one outcome, until I achieve that goal or fail.

People overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can achieve in a year

Bill Gates

At times it feels like I am racing against an arbitrary clock, because yesterday was the best time to finish. So I’ll almost ignore other aspects of life and put my energy into whatever actions are needed . Whether this be work, investing or some other creative pursuit. Maybe it’s part of the human condition to want to be an expert level yesterday, but I think it’s something that I have to work on.

The one place this sense of urgency doesn’t creep in, is strength development. For some reason, my brain understands the fact that it’s impossible to become super strong overnight or even super strong in a month. One of my goals was to both squat and deadlift 405lbs, this took over a year to achieve, once I had a good plan in place. Probably a few more years of trying without any plan. One of my current goals is to deadlft 505lbs, which is currently 20lbs past my current one rep max. With six more months left in the year, I’m sure I will achieve this milestone before 2020, however, I’m not frustrated that I haven’t achieved it today, because I trust the process of strength development.

This doesn’t detract from the fact that I know how much hard work I have to put in. I work out anywhere from one to two hours at least four times a week. However, what differs from this activity that any other activity, is that I don’t think “hmm, it would be a great idea to try and squeeze this week’s workout into one day, that way I can start on next week’s workout in three days”. This faulty thinking, creeps into my mind in a lot of other activities, such as learning a new skill, or creating something (like writing this blog).

Ultimately, the difference, is that I’m focusing on the work, rather than the results. Yet, for other facets of life, I focus on the results too much and what leads me to listening to books and podcasts on 1.5 – 2x speed, in an effort to gain the knowledge as quickly as possible. Because I’ve somehow forgotten that learning is enjoyable (much like I really enjoy working out), and that the process of learning and being able to acquire new skills is a skill in and of itself.

The way in which wind and water are able to erode rocks, is how I need to remember to attack my goals. It’s persistence over intensity that wins this battle. One wave or one gust of wind won’t crumble a cliff face. But the constant beating on the rock face over hundreds of years is what creates the amazing cliff formations we admire today.

Not that our goals will take thousands of years, but we have to remember that the overnight success was ten years in the making. It’s very rare for there to be a truly overnight success, unless you count lottery winners. I can’t think of an example of a true overnight success.

The virtue of patience should not be confused with the mistake of procrastination, or lack of effort. You want to aggressively attack your goals, knowing that the fruits of your labor won’t show up for decades. Patience is about showing up everyday, working hard and understanding you won’t see any immediate results other than sweat and pain. Being able to do this, day in, day out is where the virtue lies.

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