There’s a fine balance between hard work and trusting the process. On one hand you have to know that you did everything you could to bring a goal to life or an outcome to fruition. And on the other hand you have to stop “efforting” (as one of my dearest puts it) and pull the goodness to you through being. Not from obsessively doing.
Sometimes, for any of us, the scales get tipped. You want something, like really want it, so you convince yourself that all the work and all the push and all obsessing and all the trying will help you get it. The project you’ve been working on for what feels like an eternity that you cannot wait to bring to life. The person you’re gushing on and just want want want to make it work. The group trip you’ve done everything to make perfect for everyone. Insert deep desire here…and you’ve probably gotten really worked up doing the thing.
And hard work IS good. Hard obsessing? Mmmmm not so much. Because you end up holding on so freaking tight that the beauty of the entire experience gets strangled by your wanting. Your attachment to the outcome drags the entire glorious journey down from its heights.
Not too long ago I looked down to see my metaphorical knuckles of wanting white as shit from gripping a goal so hard. Too hard. I should have known when I was dreaming of project plans and laying in bed thinking, thinking, and rethinking how to make it all come together. Or when I was mid-workout running through all the possible outcomes instead of just running the hill at hand. Or when refreshing the email one last time to see if they had responded in the 30 seconds since I had last refreshed.
I felt in a crazy race against the clock to make it all work in the timeline I deemed. After about two weeks of this, buckled into a plane heading east, I looked at how the crazy pace of my pushing was making me feel (not human) and took a deep breath and told myself, “It’s OK to take your time with this. It doesn’t have to happen right now.” And my body released the weight of rushing the process, forcing the goal, and pushing the outcomes.
I was recounting this experience to a friend over tea on Union Street, when she nodded in complete alignment and shared this story with me, which made it alllllll come together. It all made sense. In true oral storytelling nature, neither of us know the originator of this story, so big love and big credit to whomever it came from:
“So there’s this dude in Santa Monica who takes the same bike trail everyday. It’s an intense workout. He pushes, cranks, and practically kills himself to try and break his personal best time of 42 minutes out and back. But he can’t do it. No matter how freaking hard he kills himself on the trail, he can’t beat 42 minutes.
So one day, in a complete change of heart, he decides to screw it and take his time. He got a great workout in but relished in the ride, enjoyed the experience, looked around, took it all in. And want to know the time he finished in? 45 minutes.”
The difference between killing himself and enjoying himself was 3 minutes. Now any of you marathoners, racers, etc. might be fighting me on how long of a time that can be when competing. But he wasn’t competing with anyone but himself. And in most of your life, your daily push isn’t a race day either. So do you want to take your time and enjoy the experience? Or do you want destroy yourself for a minimal difference in results? Because, in most situations, enjoying the experience IS the most important result. So take your time.
As you can probably guess in the truest #universe nature, within days of giving myself permission to take my time, I started to genuinely enjoy myself. Will I hit the original timing that I initially wanted to achieve? Probably not. But all the pieces started to come together as soon as I let up a little bit.
It’s a hard lesson. And lots of times you don’t realize it until you start to become so un-present to your own life that all you do is obsess over what you want and how to make it happen. That is not a life. Let me repeat: that is not a life.
Taking your time though, ooooo baby, that’s where the joy lives. Babies are born, flowers blossom, cookies bake to their best on their own time. So try it on…try taking your time….try giving yourself permission to do so…and look at how much magic re-enters in the place that efforting lived before.