Taking the slow train to get fast results

fast results

I was home, at the house I grew up in, for part of Memorial Day weekend recently. Walking around that house, driving around that town … it brought back so many old memories. Moments I hadn’t thought about in years.

I would look at an old picture, or drive down a particular back road, and get flooded with unexpected old memories. It was like watching a mental slide show of someone else, someone who simultaneously felt so familiar and so strange.

On my drive back to where I live now, it felt like I was crossing more than just 127 miles … not to sound too corny, but it weirdly felt like I was time-traveling from my past back into my present reality.

It’s rare that I zoom out from my daily life and so clearly see how far I’ve come, but something about that drive gave me a perfectly clear perspective.

MY INNER TORTOISE

For the past few years, I’ve felt like I was on the slow train toward what I wanted.

On a day-by-day basis, things feel like they’re moving infuriatingly slowly. I sometimes can’t help but feel agitated by how little progress I seem to make in a given day (or week, or even month).

It doesn’t help that I’m generally not a huge risk-taker, so you’ll never find me impulsively making big, life-changing decisions (or doing much of anything impulsively, for that matter). Incremental change and progress is how I’m wired.

Between the tortoise and the hare, I’m the tortoise 90% of the time.

And yet, the impatient part of me judges my inner tortoise. I sometimes fear I’m not courageous or bold or motivated enough to make the “big moves” I’d need to make to see results faster.

But for once, on that drive from my old home to my current one, I didn’t feel judgmental at all. In fact, I felt absolutely amazed at how much my life has changed in such a short time. All this time, it felt like I’d been taking tiny baby steps toward my dreams. And yet, when I zoomed out to reflect on my life over the course of years, all of those baby steps quickly added up to massive leaps forward.

I’m starting to realize that the route to getting fast results isn’t at all what I thought.

PRESSURE TO DO MORE

I’ve been guilty for way too long of judging myself for not risking enough, or taking big enough steps toward my goals, or making the absolute most out of every day.

It certainly doesn’t help when most of the “encouraging” cliché statements we’re all used to hearing go something like …

Take a leap of faith!

Chase after your dreams!

Go big or go home!

Dive in headfirst!

Bigger is better!

It’s all or nothing!

I don’t know about you, but those supposedly inspirational quotes just make me feel anxious. They make the “you’re not doing enough” chorus ring loud and proud in my head.

They make me feel like I should be relentlessly chasing down my dreams with endless energy and motivation every day. (Just writing that statement makes me want to go take a nap.)

IT’S NOT ALWAYS ABOUT MAKING BIG MOVES

It’s true that certain times in your life call for massive action or making serious, life-altering decisions. There are times when taking a huge leap of faith is not only valuable … it’s an absolute necessity.

Quitting your job, getting married, moving to a new country, starting a business, choosing to have a baby, switching career paths, going back to school … all of these are things that require huge amounts of courage, faith, and action.

But honestly, those times are the exception, not the norm.

Most days in your life don’t require you to take a massive leap of faith or throw yourself headfirst into the deep end. Most days are … well, they’re pretty normal. They’re about slowly, incrementally moving toward the life you want to create or becoming the kind of person you want to be.

They’re about the little decisions.

THE DANGER OF DIVING IN TOO FAST, TOO SOON

Trust me, I know that talking about taking consistent baby steps toward your goal isn’t a glamorous or sexy concept. We all want to fast-track results, and I’m certainly no exception.

And while throwing caution to the wind and taking a massive leap of faith feels exciting, like it’ll give you a huge push forward … it can actually do the opposite.

I can’t help but remember how terrified Rachel’s dog (Scarlett) used to be of water. Now, this is a black lab we’re talking about — she was literally bred to be a water dog. Labs are supposed to love swimming. But when Scarlett was a little puppy, she dove into deep water before she was ready, and it freaked her out so much that she didn’t go anywhere near water for years.

{BTW, you know how she got over her fear? Incrementally. Little by little. Now you can’t keep her away from creeks, pools, and ponds!}

If you take too big of a leap, too fast, you may pull a Scarlett and freak yourself out so much that you crawl right back into your comfort zone and never emerge. There’s value in working your way up to something.

WHY I’M A FAN OF BABY STEPS

I know I’m not totally over my annoyance with slow, steady progress. If I told you I’m done with complaining that things are moving too slowly, I’d be a big fat liar.

But the next time I start feeling impatient, instead of immediately judging myself or my situation, I want to refer back to this list of why baby steps are often better than giant leaps of faith:

  • The results you get are sustainable, instead of short-lived.
  • There’s little to no risk of burnout.
  • You’ll build self-trust when you see yourself making steady progress, instead of feeling like your success was a fluke or pure luck.
  • You get to enjoy the entire journey, not just the destination.
  • There’s way less pressure and risk.
  • You’ll learn a ton about yourself along the way — things you couldn’t have learned if you’d sped through the process.
  • You get to celebrate each minor milestone along the way to bigger results.
  • It makes the rare “leaps of faith” and “life-changing shifts” feel more magical when they do happen.

TAKING THE SLOW TRAIN IS THE FASTEST (SUSTAINABLE) WAY TO THE RESULTS YOU WANT

Not only is slow, steady progress actually the fastest route to your desires, you need all of those incremental steps in order to be prepared for the end goal.

If, for example, you want to get healthier … you can’t go from couch potato to marathon runner overnight! If you don’t slowly build up your endurance, stamina, and muscles over time, you’ll collapse after the first mile.

The same goes for progress you want to make in any area of life … finding a new job, building your confidence, trying out a different career path, etc. Each step toward the results you want helps you build the muscles you’ll need (strength, courage, self-trust, experience, etc.) once you get there.

twitter-bird Don’t be afraid of moving slowly … only be afraid of standing still.

So tell me, do you feel like you’re on the slow train? Do you often feel impatient by how slowly you’re making progress? How does today’s blog change your perspective? Leave a comment to let me know!

TOO LONG, DIDN’T READ? LISTEN INSTEAD!

If reading long blogs just isn’t your deal, you’re in luck:

We’ve started recording our blogs for you!

Here’s Kristen reading this week’s blog:

Much Love,

Kristen (+ Rachel)

13 Comments // ADD COMMENT

13 comments

  • Kathy Scott

    I enjoyed reading your blog because I can always go back and reread.

    • Kristen Walker

      Thanks, Kathy! I’ll be coming back to read this one myself when I need a reminder. 😉

  • Jenna-Rose Hannah

    I feel like I am the QUEEN of the fast train and it has not taken me where I needed to go, but maybe where I wanted at the time. I burnout so quickly afterwards and always felt so guilty about my results. Thank you for sharing your story and making myself, and others realize, again, that slower is not a bad thing and can lead to more success and stability. Thanks Kristen!

    • Kristen Walker

      Thanks for sharing your side of this, Jenna-Rose! The fast train is so seductive, right? It’s hard to stick with the slow and steady instead, even if it’s actually the faster path in the end. I’m glad today’s post is changing your perspective, though!

    • Dela M.

      Totally agree with this article.”Slow and steady wins the race every time.”

  • Katie

    I really needed this today. Thank you!

  • Bonnie

    Thank you for being so real and giving examples (couch potato to marathon runner). The tension between not going fast enough and driving yourself versus slowing down to experience different aspects of the journey and stepping in a solid, directed way is a choice that I second guess a lot. After reading this I feel like I had a support group experience :). Thanks for that!

    • Kristen Walker

      Bonnie — You’re definitely not alone in second-guessing the balance between those two! It’s a fine line to walk sometimes. I’m glad this post was so encouraging for you today! 🙂

  • Dela M.

    This was so me. Thanks for reminding me that there is nothing wrong with moving at your own speed.

    • Kristen Walker

      Glad this resonated so much with you, Dela! It’s such a relief to give yourself permission to move at your own pace, right? Thanks for reading!

  • Clarity on Fire

    […] When you’re prone to overanalyzing, the last thing you’ll want to do is throw yourself 100% into a choice — your FOMO will kick in hardcore. So take a baby step. […]