We hear it all the time in the world of self-improvement: Just be patient, and good things will come.
Just keep feeling good, and wait.
We are told that the universe is unfolding, so that things happen at the perfect time.
So we wait.
We are told that you cannot rush a flower. It will grow and bloom in its own time.
And this is true—to a point.
You cannot rush a flower. You can only plant the seed and nurture it. The flower will not grow and bloom overnight. It does take some time.
However, I have seen this mode of thought abused. It is frequently used as an excuse for a lack of results.
Too many teachers use this delay tactic to keep their students doing the same things over and over again, expecting different results to happen someday.
To illustrate this, we need to take a step back from the singular plant and envision planting a garden.
If someone has taught us how to plant and nurture flowers properly, then we should be able to achieve decent results when we plant 100 flower seeds. We should be able to nurture them as they grow taller and stronger and bloom into a beautiful garden.
Yet, I often see people who have been supposedly taught how to properly plant and care for a garden. They plant 100 seeds and apply what they have been taught, but nothing really grows. Sometimes, a few plants sprout up, and occasionally, one or two of these will bloom into a flower.
When these students are unsatisfied with their results, they then ask their teacher why they planted so many seeds and got so few flowers.
Often, the teacher will then say something like:
“Have patience, you cannot rush a flower.”
“Just keep tending to the garden as I have taught you, and eventually the flowers will bloom.”
“The garden is waiting for the right time to release the flowers.”
“You must be preventing the flowers from blooming.”
And the student waits, and waits, and waits.
It is true that we cannot rush a flower, but this does not mean that we should wait endlessly for signs that the seeds are germinating and growing.
Patience is a great thing.
Yet far too often, teachers encourage patience as a means of avoiding the uncomfortable admission that things aren’t working. “Have patience” becomes a form of denial.
What is the difference between patience and denial?
It is true that you cannot rush a flower, but it doesn’t take long to see the first signs of life. Anything you are trying to create in your life is a process. Nothing happens instantly.
Any goal you wish to achieve is a journey. You will move from point A to point B, and then onward from there. You will not wake up one day to suddenly find yourself with a multi-million-dollar business, or the perfect relationship, or a new house or car, or whatever else it is that you want.
If you have been on a journey for any length of time, and find that you are still at Point A with no signs of Point B, then it may be time to examine the path you are on.
We are all unique. We all have different paths to follow. Just because one path is right for someone else doesn’t make it right for us.
Here are five things to consider when you are contemplating switching paths:
1. Have you had any results?
This is my number one criterion. You started on your path for a reason. There was something you wanted to gain or change. Have you seen any progress toward attaining that thing? If so, are you continuing to see progress? Slow progress is okay, but it should be continuous—you should be moving forward on your journey.
2. How long have you been on the path?
Everything takes time. You cannot get fit after going to the gym for one week. However, you should see results after going consistently for several months. Have you given yourself enough time on the path to determine whether it is working or not?
Your gut will be the best judge here—but generally, if you’ve been traveling any path for six months or more, and you’re still not seeing progress, then this may not be the right path for you at this time.
3. Have you really walked the path?
Have you applied yourself? Let’s return to the gym analogy. Having a gym membership for six months doesn’t count if you haven’t been going to work out a few times a week.
If you haven’t been truly walking the path, then any lack of results should not be no surprise. If this is the case, try applying yourself to the path you’re on before making a judgment about its efficacy. In the end, you may need a different path that you find more inspiring and engaging—and that’s okay! But give your current path a real chance before you decide.
4. Have you made adjustments along the path?
Any path you travel will have inclines, declines, and obstacles. Have you adjusted what you’re doing in order to get better results? Any path you are following should have room for adjustment—some way to identify and correct errors that may be holding you back or slowing you down. If your path doesn’t, then you definitely need a new one. Since we are all unique, we should have room to adjust things to our own needs to ensure we get better results.
5. How does the path make you feel?
I have saved this one for last.
Just because a path makes you feel good does not mean it is the right path for you (unless simply feeling good is the reason you’re on the path to begin with).
I have known countless people who were fully enjoying the path they were on but were not getting anywhere near their destination.
Many of the paths that will get us where we really want to be are difficult to walk. They are challenging. They make you grow in ways you need to. They open you up to new ideas and new inspirations. They stretch you.
Do not shy away from the path that is difficult. Do not get stuck on the path that is easiest if it isn’t serving you.
Life is a journey. It’s an adventure. Follow the path that is best for you.
Author: Tom Reilly
Editor: Callie Rushton