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A couple of months ago, I bumped into an old acquaintance of mine, Kim, at a yoga studio. She looked great, and we marveled at how quickly (we calculated on the spot) three years went by. Three! We remembered sipping sangria together at a friend’s party in the spring of 2015.
I asked how the corporate world was treating her, and she told me she’d be happy to be out of it by the end of this summer.
“How?” I asked with enthusiasm and surprise.
Kim’s side hustle as a sales trainer was taking off. She was getting monthly clients and was about to sign a large corporate internet firm as their go-to sales trainer (on retainer, no less—I’ll admit I was a bit jealous).
I was so impressed. Why? Because I’m obsessed with side hustles as a way to use your gifts to the fullest? Yes. But more so because she stayed at it. She went the full course (she also mentioned she purchased my side hustle program a couple of years ago, which I felt beyond flattered by). The more we spoke, the more I remembered her interest in my career as a coach back then, and I was delighted that she made it real.
Was it overnight? Nope. It took her a full three years.
It reminded me of one of my favorite Aesop’s Fables, “The Tortoise and the Hare” (found here on page 21). I’ve seen many people go fast and furious into a new project for two or three months, then give up. But slow and steady wins the race, and not just with side hustles—in everything worthwhile in life.
How can you apply this principle to your life too? Here are some ways:
The problem with humans is that we expect immediate results, and we’re disheartened when we don’t get them. I recently had a Lego race with my 6-year-old nephew, James, who was confident he would win, despite my being faster than him. As I now know, if you make a single mistake, you have to go alllll the way back. He was calm and unhurried, and bingo—won!
As I get older, I realize the magical power of patience (I’m looking for a bracelet with the word on it, in fact)! But like the impatient, raring-to-go hare, we start fast and furious, and then at some point, hit a roadblock, get tired, and stop. What if you could relax a little, take a bit more pleasure in it, have faith in a great outcome, and take it one day at a time?
Sometimes, if I feel like something is happening a little slowly, I say the word “onward” out loud. Because even if I feel stagnant, I know I’m still moving forward.
Have a system
Instead of just setting a goal—”lose 10 pounds,” “travel to Greece,” “get promoted”—create a system that will ensure you get there. Can you walk 20 minutes or add something green to your diet every day? Can you sock away some of your paycheck every payday for that travel fund? Can you take on 1-2 extra projects per month to really assist your boss, then bring it up at review time?
These are not overnight wins, but they work. That’s what systems do. I didn’t get into the weeds of Kim’s system with her (I was sweating!), but I’d betcha my life savings she had one.
Crank up the creativity
Ever notice that when you’re in a rush, you block creative flow? You’re so busy “getting it done” that you don’t breathe or look up—and those moments of relaxation are when great thoughts, ideas, and opportunities flow to you!
When you pace a project—any project—your deadline will feel unhurried, so long as you begin on time (this is not an excuse to procrastinate!). You’ll allow the universe to co-create with you. If you’re racing and rushing, my darling hare, nothing can catch up to you—not even your inner wisdom. Steadiness brings peace, pleasure, and insight. But when you take a long rest on the side of the road (like the worn-out hare must), momentum is lost.
Because what goes up must come down
Little by little, life can be enjoyed. Each coffee. Each walk outside. Each time you press “save” on a finished chapter of a book you’re giving yourself a whole year to write. Let this give you peace, confidence, and joy. No hurry, no worry. The best things in life almost always take time. Think about the best, deepest relationships of your life as proof.
And so, dear tortoise, remember this and exhale: It doesn’t matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop.
Susie Moore is Greatist’s life coach columnist and a confidence coach in New York City. Sign up for free weekly wellness tips on her website and check back every Tuesday for her latest No Regrets column!