The long game
Why 'getting my act together' is an ongoing process
When I was around 12 or 13 years old, my siblings and I very seriously sat down and made a plan about our parents' upcoming wedding anniversaries. Not the immediate ones - those were already covered by our default 'let's pretend we're a restaurant' approach (sorry mum and dad about that terrible sorbet I served in a Vitalite tub). We were looking at the 20 and 25 year ones.
The plan was, for their 20th wedding anniversary we'd gift them a hot air balloon ride. Then, for their 25th, we'd send them on a cruise. Easy.
This year my parents will have been married for 30 years - and they're still waiting on both the balloon ride and the cruise (although we have made celebratory plans this time so it's not a complete fail - right?). Strangely enough it turned out not to have been a realistic expectation that a group of teenagers would able to afford a hot air balloon ride between them - but I really did think that by the time I was 24, all of us would be earning enough to pay for a cruise. Ah, delightful naivety...
I feel like that particular plan was typical of my life planning approach - I have always expected things to happen more quickly, and more easily, than they have. Not that I don’t work hard, but I’ve typically expected that planning + hard work = success on my timescale.
Obviously as I've got older my plans and expectations have changed, and I like to think I balance realism and ambition quite well. But really - more often than not I’m still that optimistic teen, making optimistic plans that are barely 50% likely to come off in the way and at the time I’d like.
Presumably I should change my approach. Be more realistic; expect delays, disappointment. Make a virtue of flexibility. Or I should hold myself to higher standards, and make sure if I commit to something that, come hell or high water, it gets done.
In today’s edition of ‘Now We Are Thirty’, you find me somewhere between these two positions. Not because I am fence sitter - far from it, I hope! - but because it’s just not that simple. Some situations call for nailing your colours to the mast - others for a retreat, regroup, and a new strategy.
The challenge is in knowing what to do in each circumstance. And that’s where figuring out life, success and achieving your goals is, more often than not, a long game. But I’m saying ‘yes’ to the challenge.