You’re pushing yourself and doing what you can to achieve that critical goal you’ve set for yourself.
You work overtime, try to take care of all the factors. You’re putting in the work, and you know you do.
Yet when you check for progress––nothing. It’s so frustrating and annoying.
At times it even seems that you are regressing! To be blunt, you feel completely stuck.
What should you do? Work harder? Put in more effort?
That can’t be it… There has to be something that you haven’t thought of, something that’s eluding you.
Let me introduce a new perspective, followed by a surprising suggestion.
Quick-solution-addiction is a killer.
We, as a society, like it quick. Instant messaging, instant coffee, instant customer support. Instant gratification.
When it comes to our goals, we follow the same pattern.
Yet when we look at nature, we will notice that this is not how things actually work.
Imagine a seed is put in fertile soil and given everything it needs.
Now it’s supposed to sprout right away. It’s supposed to become a tree in a matter of moments, right?
“Of course, that’s not how it happens. It takes time to do that!” you say.
But for some strange reason, we struggle to apply this simple lesson to our own life. Yet it’s a crucial lesson. Why?
Change usually occurs at a threshold.
If you’ve ever been to a Japanese garden, chances are, you’ve seen (and heard) one of those Shishi-Odoshis:
A Shishi-Odoshi is a pivoted bamboo tube, heavier on one end, resting on a rock. The gentle trickle of water slowly fills it up until, after sufficient time has passed, it drops.
While the water is hitting the bamboo tube, nothing seems to be happening. But at one point, suddenly, the whole apparatus starts to move.
Our lives are very similar.
Let’s apply this simile to personal productivity.
Many variables play into our ability to perform at the top of our game and deliver outstanding results:
You might be working away at any one of these areas.
At first, you read something or watch a video, and it really inspires you. You put in the work and give it your best. You stick with it.
Now, two months later, the results are not what you hoped for.
You start doubting yourself and the process. “Why isn’t this working?” you ask.
Let’s go back to our simile:
What do you have to do to make that Shishi-Odoshi drop and hit the rock with a bang?
Think about it.
Exactly. Nothing. Just wait.
A counter-intuitive suggestion
You feel like things are not “moving quickly enough” or stuck. Of course, you want to fix it! As soon as possible–Shishi-Odoshi or not.
But you’re forgetting one crucial thing: Stress is making you stupid. The more stressed you are, the worse your decisions become.
Okay, now I’ve stressed your patience enough. The suggestion is precisely that:
Of course, this doesn’t mean you’re going to be progressing like a snail from now on. I just thought this would be a relaxing picture at this point.
But maybe, like that snail, we should look underneath that “leaf” we’re sitting on (our habitual mindset and responses) and ask ourself:
- What if you’d go against that urge to do more and more?
- What if you took some time off to relax and fill up your tank instead of working more?
- What if…
Honestly. What’s the worst thing that could happen if you did? I’m not talking about quitting your job and never working again.
Just taking a little break.
Taking the small steps in your own life is like the small but continuous water stream falling onto the bamboo tube.
Each healthy habit you put in place will make the bamboo’s tip a little bit heavier.
Every action will make that little stream flow a bit more vigorously. But it’s not you who decides when the bamboo will drop.
It’s annoying and frustrating to feel stuck because of things not going your way. I get it. But stressing out about it isn’t smart.
Exercise some patience and relax, acknowledging that you’re doing your part. Maybe it’s time to trust and let it go––just a little?
Get out of your stress-response and take a break.
Close your eyes and rest for a moment,
even if it’s just for two minutes.
Do it now, if you can.
Start recognizing that sometimes the best thing you can do is to take your foot off the accelerator.
You’ll be amazed at how this will get you to your destination faster. Besides, you’ll feel a lot better and more relaxed.
Meanwhile, that “bang” you are looking for might occur when you least expect it.