Don’t Rush Ahead

Do you remember going for walks or bike rides with your family as a kid? Were you the one who always went as far as you possibly could because you were just too excited to hold back? Did your parents have to tell you to stop and wait for them to catch up, to not go any farther than they could see?

I don’t think I really did that when I was a kid. I have always been really cautious when it comes to things like that. But I do think I take a similar approach to other things in my adult life.

I want to know what’s coming. I want to be prepared. And, if at all possible, I want to get ahead. I want to feel like I’m buying myself extra time by skipping steps or getting things done faster now so I can have a buffer later. And I certainly don’t want to feel like I’m wasting my time doing things that I don’t need to be doing.

I don’t like waiting. I don’t like doing the foundational work that feels like nothing at all. I want to get to the big, fun, challenging, heart-of-the-work things that produce results and give me something to show for all my work.

I have a bad habit of cheating myself out of my stretching before and after my workouts. I do stretch some, but not nearly as much as I should. And, of course, I never realize it until the next day when my muscles are sore and tight because I didn’t take the time to stretch them properly.

The problem is that I don’t give stretching its due. It feels useless. I have limited time allotted for working out, and I don’t want to “waste” it on stretching when I could otherwise be doing cardio or strength training- things that make my heart beat harder or strain my muscles in ways that I can feel in a more tangible way right then in the moment.

When I was in school, I always loved the professors who gave out course calendars and detailed rubrics for projects ahead of time. I loved knowing what was coming and what was expected of me. It allowed me to plan out my time and energy efficiently. In courses where I didn’t have a clear view of what came next, I found myself wondering what laid ahead.

And I’m finding myself in that place once again. I started a writing course a couple weeks ago, and I’m having a really (REALLY) hard time not rushing ahead. I did the prewriting exercises faster than the standard course timeline laid it out, but now I’m finding myself itching to look at material I’m not slated to encounter for a few more weeks yet. And I really don’t need it until then. But this little part of me just wants to know it all. To be prepared. To avoid surprises.

The more I think about it, the more I come to realize I do that with all of life. I want to avoid big surprises. I want to know what’s coming. I want to be prepared.

But life’s unpredictable. And if I run ahead, I might encounter something sooner than I’m meant to, and I might not be prepared to handle it because I didn’t let the waiting do its work. If I skip steps in my writing, I can most likely come back to them later. If I forget to stretch, I’ll be sore the next day, but I’ll survive just fine. But if I skip steps or rush ahead in life, I might make wrong turns, poor and uninformed decisions, and find myself ill-equipped to handle obstacles because I didn’t let my character grow before plowing forward. And if I knew everything all at once, I would certainly get overwhelmed.

I know it’s important to take things one step at a time. The steps exist for a reason– they make the journey easier, allowing me to tackle just one at a time instead of the whole staircase. I just sometimes need the reminder to not skip steps and try to rush ahead without doing the important foundational work first.

So today I’m reminding myself: Take life one step at a time. Don’t rush the process. Don’t skip steps just because you can’t see why they’re important right now.

 

Do you tend to run ahead? Do you have any tips for taking things one step at a time? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

The Lost Art of Letter-Writing

Do you get excited when you get a letter in the mail? I do! I don’t get a whole lot of paper mail these days, and most of what I do receive is junk mail. So when I see a personal letter that someone took the time to write and mail the old-school way, I really appreciate it.

In the midst of a pile of bills, bank statements, solicitations for credit cards, flyers, and sales from the stores you forgot you gave your address to, finding a letter from a loved one is like a breath of fresh air. At last, something you can open with a smile, sit back and read, without getting stressed out about.

With the advent of email and social media, many of us have lost the art of letter-writing. We have foregone the days of pulling out personalized stationery sets, monogrammed pens, stamps, and return address labels for brief messages sent to our friends’ phones and computers.

I strongly advise that you join me in bringing back this seemingly outdated practice. It is so much more personal than a message on social media or even an email. It says that someone took precious time out of their day to think of you and write to you, when they could have otherwise been doing something else instead. They had to put special effort into it, digging out their stamps and envelopes, and looking up your street address– because, let’s face it, we don’t remember anyone’s phone numbers anymore, let alone street addresses.

So dust off your pretty stationery (or find some blank paper, if you must), sit down at your desk, set aside more modern forms of communication that are far less personal, and write a letter to a friend or family member.

It doesn’t have to be for someone who lives far away; it can be for someone you see on a regular basis if you like. Write a note just to say hi, tell them a funny story about what happened at the store the other day, reminisce about days gone by, or ask them a bunch of questions and challenge them to write back to you. Who knows? Maybe you’ll develop a penpal relationship with someone!

Who will you write a letter to?