It is interesting to think about the effort it takes to succeed in life and when I say succeed I mean to achieve what we desire to, be it practical, spiritual, material or anything else (and based on our own individual understanding of success).
We live in a world of everything being accessible right now; we live in a world of speed and a world where we hold the expectation, often, of instant gratification. In fact, media and some organisations encourage us to believe that whatever we want we can have, right now and that if it doesn’t happen right now then we are not putting in the appropriate effort or it is not appropriate for us.
Is anything really worthwhile, I mean really, achieved with such instantaneousness?
Don’t we have to work to embed new habits, new routines, learn new skills, change our thinking and behaviours to align with what we want and need? And doesn’t that take time? Doesn’t it take mindfulness? Being aware of those moments when we might just be slipping back into an old pattern of being that doesn’t support us? We have to catch ourselves when we start to fall and put ourselves back into the place that we need to be.
Recently, last year in fact, I lost 44lbs over a period of 9 months. I did it for health reasons and after the first stone and half had come off I did feel so much better but I had to radically change my eating habits to achieve what I wanted to, and most of those habits are now simply the norm. Interestingly though as I was hunting through the fridge last night for something I ‘fancied’ for dinner, I realised that a couple of old habits had started to creep back in based on the food that was currently occupying fridge space! And it made me think about how easy it is to slip back into habits that we’ve held for a long time, habits that we have worked hard to shift and change for the better – and I don’t just mean about food.
I don’t believe that any of us start off with unhealthy habits. None of us are born pessimistic or with a ‘half glass empty’ outlook. But we do learn from those around us, as children what other choice do we have? And in society, it takes courage and a self-awareness that we don’t always see within ourselves as young people to stand up against its’ dictates. If we had parents who worried about money constantly, we pick up that vibration and it might take a lot of work for us to have a relaxed and healthy relationship with money. If we had that one ‘friend’ at school who always used to tell us that we would be ‘prettier’ if we wore this or would be ‘cooler’ if we did that, we might struggle to find a level of confidence or a level of acceptance as we grow that we are happy with. We might struggle to be who we are and to be happy with that rather than being what others want us to be.
When we work to experience a greater sense of harmony or success in our life, whatever success might be for you, it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. It takes being mindful of what we are trying to achieve and it takes being mindful and honest about being aware of where we are taking a back seat and sabotaging, however unconsciously, our efforts – and sabotage can be as simple as ‘I can’t be bothered today’ or ‘I am too tired today’. Learning to meditate, for instance, doesn’t happen in one session; it takes time and perseverance to still our mind to the degree we need or to take our awareness from the busyness of our thoughts – the more we do it, the easier it becomes yet old habits of procrastination or of having no time to sit quietly can all too often creep in when life cranks up a gear as it always does. In our relationships, it takes time to get to know our partner, friends etc., to recognise their foibles, their sense of humour, to understand them and to forge a relationship that lasts. With all things it is our determination to succeed and our patience with the challenges that that entail which make the difference.
Changing habits that we have held for years or even for the entirety of our lifetime is not easy and it doesn’t happen instantaneously and we are far, far, far too hard on ourselves when we fall off the wagon. In fact, some of us even quit altogether thinking that it is too hard, we can’t do it, we are not cut out for it. How do we know that unless we try more than once? Every time we step back from what we are trying to achieve, for whatever reason, we come up against a reason not to try again, not to stick with it and you know – every time we do get back on that wagon, we have one less challenge to battle against next time we fall off.
I am reminded of something that popped up on my facebook feed as I was thinking about an aspect of my work – ‘if you want something enough, are passionate about it and if you love yourself enough to reach for it then never quit’. It is only the not quitting that enables an old habit to be an old habit and no longer a current one. And it is only not quitting that enables something new to blossom into something wonderful. It may not happen overnight but if we can give it time and if we can give it effort, then we are giving it every opportunity to be the miracle that we are hoping it will be.