We have well and truly managed to screw ourselves over in the age of convenience. Don’t get me wrong, things are better than ever for many people, and I’m not advocating a return to days of serfdom and lighting from lanterns filled with animal fat, but we have to understand that there are consequences to our time period.
One of the biggest ones for me is that I no longer need to wait for something good to happen. Thinking back to when I was a kid growing up in the 90s, things were amazing, but they didn’t happen instantaneously. Our first computer held very little interest to me because it took so long to load up and then connect to the Internet. Food was something that was made from scratch at home – fast food was only something I was allowed if I scored a goal at a soccer game (and I had very shitty aim). Talking to friends was over the landline telephone, and only at certain hours of the day because it could be expensive during peak times. The list goes on. And while this is a very pleasant trip down memory lane that also makes me sound like an individual who is anti-progress, waiting for good things to happen was a genuine advantage that many of us could use right about now.
My expectations for something are now so high that I get grumpy if they don’t happen immediately. Like it isn’t some miracle that I can type some buttons into a machine and learn about everything under the sun in a matter of seconds. If the internet is slow I get mad. If I order something online I regularly choose the next-day delivery option. But the truly difficult one to me is this: if I work hard at something and I don’t see immediate results I get discouraged and quit. Perseverance is one of my skills that is eroding very quickly. I’m not alone in this. Blogs are filled with advice for people on how to keep going during periods of invisible progress. I’m finally re-learning how to be patient with myself, but that in itself is a journey that is frustratingly slow.
Two big areas that I’m trying to be patient in (apart from my collection of plants – if I water them I want to see them perk up instantly!) are my fitness and my finances. For months I have been lifting weights at least twice a week, upping the weights carefully and focusing on form. And, despite being a fairly rational person for the most part, it is always disappointing to me that I haven’t immediately undone years of bad habits. I don’t blame myself entirely for that; we’ve been told we can “Get that beach body in four weeks!” or various other promises and deep down we all want to believe it so bad. As for the finances, reading other financial blogs is both inspiring and disheartening. I’m happy for people that have managed to save thousands of dollars everything and are on track to become a millionaire by 30. But as I diligently put some savings away every month I only see small amounts in my savings. I know that they will grow eventually, and that I will thank myself for doing this down the road, but right now it’s hard to battle the overwhelming sense that I am not doing it right.
I read in the Simple Dollar that a way to look at this issue is t look back instead of forward. Compare yourself to where you were a month ago to where you are now. That’s a pretty great strategy (though as per my last post I’m actually $4000 down from last month, but that won’t happen again). Tracking my progress for fitness has been pretty exciting, and I enjoy looking at some slightly more sculpted muscles in the mirror every now and again. My personal bank account is reaching the five figure mark after only two years of savings, and that’s impressive to me. So my next challenge is to stop thinking in terms of right now, and learn to live like it’s the 90s again, where things were still great, but infinitely slower.