We live in a fast-paced world where no lines and no waiting are common. We can now have anything delivered to our doorstep in a matter of hours and get information with the click of a button.
While the convenience factor of the fast-paced world can be appreciated, it can also have a negative effect on us. The no lines no waiting world causes us to underestimate how long change takes when it comes to personal growth.
As a therapist, it's a problem I encounter often. Clients expect to feel better or to change their habits in a week or two. And I have to explain that real change takes a lot longer than Amazon Prime.
Expecting immediate results can be disastrous when it comes to personal achievement. It often leads to unhealthy shortcuts or giving up on a goal way too early.
Your unrealistic expectations may also cause you to draw incorrect conclusions. You may think you're not good enough or that you aren't able to succeed. But the truth might be that you have simply not given yourself enough time.
Whether you're trying to lose weight or you're launching a new business, results always take time. If you're always in a rush to see results, here are two mental strength exercises that can help you develop the patience you need to stay the course:
1. Celebrate milestones along your journey.
If you're trying to pay off $20,000 in debt, your goal can seem unrealistic. It's important to establish short-term objectives and then celebrate when you hit smaller milestones. Those celebrations can help motivate you to keep going.
Perhaps you celebrate each time you pay down $1,000 dollars. Or maybe you pause every week and reflect as you pay off another $100 toward your goal. Just make sure your celebrations don't interrupt your progress.
You might be tempted to do things like spend money to celebrate your debt payment or eat junk food to celebrate your weight loss. But if you use this as an excuse for a celebration, it can actually be self-sabotaging. So make sure your celebrations honor your progress without derailing you from your long-term goals.
2. Create a plan to resist temptation.
Establishing a goal won't make your temptation disappear. There will inevitably be days and times when you lack motivation and you want to give in to immediate gratification. So create a plan ahead of time that can help you steer clear of temptations.
Being mentally strong isn't about surrounding yourself with irresistible temptations just to prove you're strong enough to abstain. Instead, it's important to build a life conducive to building mental muscle.
If you're trying to lose weight, then get rid of the junk food in the house. If you want to pay off your debt, don't go shopping.
Removing temptations frees up more mental energy to focus on your goals--and you won't waste all your brain power trying to resist temptation.
Be Realistic About Expectations
Of course, there will be times when your emotions get the best of you, times when you believe thoughts that aren't true, and times when you engage in self-destructive behavior. But these times will grow fewer and farther between when you're actively working to build mental strength.
Also, keep in mind that progress doesn't always come in a straight line. Sometimes, things have to get a little worse before they can get better. But if you establish realistic expectations for yourself and commit to the long haul, you increase the chances that you'll be able to reach your goals.