Losing weight, running a marathon, learning to code, saving money. These are important goals many of us share. They are also goals that, for the most part, cannot be achieved in a short amount of time.
So many of us crave instant gratification. Perhaps me more than most. As I get older, and more and more of my goals involve long term dedication, I struggle with working so hard for something and not having it weeks, months or even years later.
I’ve been struggling with my weight since my late twenties. It’s constantly going up and down and I find it very difficult to stick to a plan. It still blows my mind that I can be so good and eat so well for an entire week and still not look or feel any different. It’s been a very challenging mental shift for me to know that I’m investing in my health and while it won’t come overnight, it won’t come at all if I don’t put in the work!
I’m a highly motivated person who struggles to stick to one interest for very long. Unfortunately, this makes achieving long term goals even more difficult! Being “super” good on my diet for 3 days is not nearly as important as being “pretty” good for months.
Discipline is more important than motivation.
Running a marathon
Last year, I read The Rise of the Ultra Runners and was so inspired and motivated to start running!
My girlfriend and I started running every day after work for as long as we could. A few things happened:
- I got really bad blisters
- My pace and stamina improved each week!
- Despite that, I started getting disappointed with how far away from being able to run a marathon I was.
Behind the scenes, the motivation dissipated and all that was left was my discipline (or lack thereof). Running is such a great example of disciplined, long term goals because even the best runners I know are training hard all year to shave a few seconds off their pace! Imagine that, running 5 days a week for a year just to shave 10 minutes off their marathon pace. Do you have that sort of discipline? Do I?
Long story short I fell off my running streak. After a few months I started running again and there was a bit of good news. I didn’t fall all the way back to zero! I think a bright side to learning things that take a long time to perfect is that stopping for a few months isn’t a huge deal!
Learning to code
I’ve been coding for years. I really have put the work in. Luckily, since coding is my profession, it forces me to keep practicing long after the motivation has faded. This has been such a blessing for me. It’s amazing to look back on where I was 10 years ago (knowing literally nothing about code) and see how far I’ve come.
I want to find ways to keep myself accountable for my long term goals when I don’t have the luxury of relying on practice to survive!
Last year I decided it was time for me to be a little smarter with my money. I’ve always been good at living within my means but I’ve never invested money before. I got motivated and read a lot of books on the stock market, real estate investing, savings accounts and retirement. I learned a ton of interesting things, but most of those I’ll save for another post! One saying that stuck with me about stock market investing was:
It’s about time in the market, not timing the market.
To me, this is a perfect analogy for there being no better way to get good at something than investing consistent amounts of time into it for many years. Take this example I found when reading about compound interest.
If you put $100 a month in a stock market index fund (assuming an average return of 10% annually) starting when you are 25 years old, by the time you turn 65 you would have $535,636.99! That’s the power of doing something consistently for a long period of time.
This is especially amazing because after 10 years of saving, you’d only have $19,384.28. After 20 years you’d still only have $69,402.75. It’s really all about keeping your money in the market for a long period of time.
I’m struggling to change my mindset. To find sustainable diets, savings plans, and running schedules! To remind myself that it’s not about how fast I’ll be able to run next week, or next month. To know that putting in the work will absolutely yield great results, it’s only a matter of time!
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