Don’t rush it

Photo courtesy of Greg Gladman (Creative Commons)

Photo courtesy of Greg Gladman (Creative Commons)

I am impatient. I am all about getting things done and checking them off the list.

I get frustrated when a task takes too long, and will look for shortcuts and ways to streamline.

When we talk, I want you to cut to the chase, and I’ll lose focus if you tell a long winding story.

But there are some things that should not be rushed. Many times, a process takes time because strength is being developed.

In an exercise routine, it is important to move the muscles slowly and deliberately. Lift weights too fast, and you can suffer a strain or end up using the wrong muscle. By slowing it down and focusing on proper form, you can strengthen that muscle over time.

Learning a new skill takes time as well. When I was in college, I took guitar lessons. But I was never very good because I did not like to practice. My teacher was an accomplished classical guitarist, and he would play pieces beautifully, with skillful fingers and just the right sound from the strings. My playing was clumsy and awkward, with sour notes all over the place. He kept reminding me that I needed to practice every day. Not only would the daily repetition train my fingers to move in the right ways, but it would build up callouses I needed to be able to hold the chords without pain. I just wanted to be able to play like he did and got frustrated that I couldn’t. I ended up giving it up.

Probably one of the most important things to spend time developing is a new discipline – in my case mindfulness. Because I am so scattered and impatient, mindfulness is truly a challenge for me, but one worth learning.

For me, mindfulness means seeking ways to slow down and savor things; taking the time to create a daily writing focus; spending time practicing yoga. I am learning to focus on my breathing when I run, so that my mind lets go. I should not be processing my day in my head rather than enjoying the beautiful sunrise or the scenery I am running past.

I’m often less than successful at mindfulness, but my goal is to keep practicing. Instead of telling myself I’m not good at this and giving up, I just keep working at it. Each attempt brings some satisfaction, even if it’s not completely fruitful.

What I find is that when I am successful, the rest of my day is more pleasant and productive. That is a reward right there and worth continued practice. Slow it down. Let it go. Stick with it.

What discipline do you struggle to master?