“Time, time, time, see what’s become of me
While I looked around for my possibilities
I was so hard to please…”
— Paul Simon, A Hazy Shade of Winter
So often we’re let down by the philosophy of “New Year, New You” and it being February 2021? Yeah, the letdown part can feel like it’s seething right now.
It’s no secret, I’m not the world’s most patient person. Slowly (ha) upon turning 50, I’ve accepted: some change simply takes time, and no amount of accelerating, jumpstarting, deep-diving or wishing and hoping will get us there faster.
The problems in our relationships didn’t happen overnight. Our fears and anxiousness get startled and run away when we try to hurry them up. If we try to grapple with how bad things are in the world, we’re confronted by how big the issues are and how they won’t go away overnight.
And there it is. If a problem won’t go away ‘overnight’… how long will it take?
More than one night, clearly. But seriously, when we don’t think this through to its natural conclusion — time (more of it) is needed — we condemn ourselves to rushing our way to nowhere, and arriving exhausted.
Systemic issues take time to form and time to dissolve. Personal challenges rooted in systemic issues also require time. Not just casually either. No, the answer to some issues is to intentionally allocate more time. To let time be an ingredient in the recipe.
I’m curious if any part of you feels ready to say ‘Yes, okay, I see that trying to hurry is actually a large part of my problem.’
If you said yes, then, and only then, can we look for new possibilities beyond hurrying. Finally. New ways of thinking have room to sprout! While shame can push us to rush to the part where there’s less discomfort, what if I told you: discomfort is as essential to things you’re working on as yeast is to sourdough bread?
Having said that, I’m guessing that the answer ‘it takes time’ is at least a little annoying. Fair enough! How about I offer up some ways to reframe frustration when things are slow to change?
Things to remember when things feel excruciatingly slow, so you can keep going:
Enjoy little wins, like having a relaxed time with loved ones. Were you able to eat dinner together and it wasn’t tense? Savouring a meal knowing nobody is going to yell or throw something can be a pretty big deal these days. By celebrating something small like that - your version of it -- becomes a symbol, a beacon.
If you have one meal in peace, you can have all your meals in peace. If you can celebrate X little thing, you can have more of that X.
Embrace that progress isn’t linear.
Have you noticed the human tendency to feel like change should be linear and that things should progress at a certain pace? So weird, right? Time to let this one go. Some days - some years(!) - will be slower than others.
If you’re living life with just a couple of hoped-for outcomes, that can set you up for greater frustration. Instead, spread your hopes out a bit and notice if things feel better.
There’s no one but you making the rules in your life. Make sure you’re not setting yourself up to be upset because of rules you can change.
Remember what’s been done once can be done again.
Repeated behaviour (yes, we call that habit sometimes) is what got you here today. (That’s both healthy and unhealthy repeated behaviour.) So good! You know you can repeat a behaviour. That one time you did something fabulous? You can repeat that in other places.
Commit to the minimum.
When we’re frustrated with progress, this is one of the easiest things to shift. Find something so small you can’t fail. Pick the smallest thing you can always do. This sets a baseline you can do more from, all in good time.
When things are difficult, it’s natural to want change as soon as possible and for everything to be okay again.
You want the discomfort to go away. While that’s natural, as an intelligent person interested in better outcomes, I invite you to try letting discomfort fuel you instead. Be frustrated and use that frustration as nourishment. Keep going and keep the truth ‘sometimes things take time’ in your heart for the days where things feel extra difficult. Bit by bit, through baby-steps and time, you can learn to trust yourself, and trust the process.
Time will pass anyways. You may as well use it well. Be good to yourself along the way.
The upshot: I invite you to try starting a new year any day of the week, and being a new you in any passing second you choose.
Got ways you cope with things going slowwwly and frustratingly? I’d love to hear them.
Here’s one more possibility for how to stretch time and create more space when things get difficult - self-coaching!
When you’ve cooked a meal for 4 and 2 more people arrive, what do you do? You find a way to make it stretch, right? Do what you can with what you have.
That might look like adding a can of broth to the stew, pulling something out of the freezer, and or grabbing a couple of patio chairs to put around the table. It’s a great example for how to make resources go farther or make good things happen with less expense. Similarly…
The How to Coach Yourself training I’m hosting is one of those ‘get more done with less’ possibilities.
When you have lots of thoughts and ideas swirling but no satisfying way to sort them out? Maybe you want to make progress on things that have been lumpy and sticky for a while. Or, you’d just like a rest stop on the highway of life…
… wouldn’t it be great if you could find something simple, inexpensive, fun, and rejuvenating to help?
That’s what I’ve designed the ‘How to Coach Yourself’ training to be.
The course starts in 3 days, and a full description is here. A short video of highlights here. And registration is available here:
If you have any questions about the class, don’t hesitate to reach out. This isn’t a massive impersonal class. It’s a class where you and I will have a direct connection and get to drop into the joy of what matters most to you… over the space of five weeks.
"This course and what I learned from it is SO much less expensive than hours talking to a coach. Self-coaching is my new daily habit. Sometimes twice a day.”
- HTCY participant
Meanwhile, I hope you’re taking time, time, time, to gently look around at your possibilities. No matter what course you’re taking or not taking! xo
Here’s a screenshot of one of our training worksheets, so you can see how hands on we’ll be getting. You can expect to get real coaching out of each class.
Photo credit from top to bottom: Elena Koycheva and Ella Olsson on Unsplash