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Over the past three articles, we have been learning how to DART our way to achievement. As a quick recap, we have learned how to allow ourselves the space to DREAM about where we want to be and what we want to accomplish. We have been encouraged to move from potential to kinetic by taking ACTION on those dreams. Most recently we were challenged to REFLECT on the small, incremental actions we are taking toward our goals, and to celebrate them. Now, as we bring the series to a close, it’s time for the final point and that is how to work over TIME.
Everything we are, and everything we have today is a product of time. I think about my two daughters and how in just a few weeks the oldest will be turning three and the other one year old. It seems like just yesterday I was in the delivery room with my wife awaiting their arrival. Since then we have witnessed many milestones: first words; first steps; potty training; school. All this over the course of just a few short years.
When looking back on things that have already happened, it is easy to say that “time flies.” It is harder, however, to have the same perspective when you are in the middle of a journey toward a goal that you are eager to achieve. It is during this valley experience – between the peaks of anticipation and accomplishment – that frustration, disappointment and discouragement often set in. The delta between where you are and where you want to be can be a dark place. That is why having the right lens is critical.
Imagine a family setting out on a long, cross-country journey from the east coast of America to the west. A trip like this one requires many twists, turns, highways and country roads. Since the distance from the starting point to the destination is so great, you can reasonably expect to encounter traffic, detours and delays. Now imagine about a quarter of a mile into it, someone cries from the back seat, “Are we there yet?!” The driver responds “No. We just started the drive!”
One more analogy. Imagine this time a farmer who is excited about planting season. He tills the soil; carefully inserts his seeds and adds some water. After a long laborious day, he returns home to clean himself up and rest. Anxious about his impending harvest, he gets out of bed during the night and rushes outside to see if the vegetables are ready. Much to his dismay and disappointment, the ground still looks the same as he left it hours ago, and there is no greenery to be found. He goes back inside and gives it a few more hours; returns back to the planting spot and still nothing! This time, however, he angrily begins to dig up the seeds he planted. “There must be something wrong with them,” he says aloud, “as hard as I worked all day yesterday I should have some plants!” Attitude and expectations play a major role in how both the passenger and farmer interpreted their conditions. The passenger was so excited about arriving at the destination that she forgot to enjoy the sites along the way. The farmer was so eager to get results that he ended up working against himself by uprooting what he had begun.
The lesson in all of this is that achievement takes time. The journey takes time. There is, however, enough excitement along the way if you will just pause to notice it. Even when you don’t see anything happening on the surface, your efforts are producing strong roots below ground.
When embarking on a new path, we must remember that the key to success is not always in doing more and working overtime. This most often leads to burnout and resentment. The truth is that lasting results do happen as a result of work; but it is work that is done over time.