Taking the Long Way to Accomplishing Your Goals

Article by Dee DeWitt, Edited by Dee DeWitt


When we are trying to accomplish anything, most people want things to come together smoothly and quickly, with “quickly” being the operative word…


It doesn’t matter whether it’s reaching a travel destination, finishing a project at the office, losing weight, or learning to play the guitar. We’re taught that faster is better.  Our culture is bombarded with messages from Madison Avenue that faster is better.  Directors of our largest companies – and Wall Street overall – reward quarterly results.  They ask “What have you accomplished over the last 12 weeks?” … instead of long-term growth and stability.


Perhaps it’s not fair to pick on CEOs and Wall Street, because examples of “fast is better” are replete in practically every corner our culture.  We all want to see immediate returns for our efforts, and we take huge strides toward reaching our goals expeditiously.  After all, why take small steps when we can take quantum leaps?  And who would want to take the long way when it takes so … long?


Another perspective is that, while there is nothing wrong with desiring to move quickly, we also need a strong sense of an appreciation for taking the long way and completing things one step at a time.  Put simply … we need to realize there are real benefits – and we can be happy and content – with taking the long way.




Because many things really are meant to take some time.


Some things are meant to unfold on their own timeline.  And we are meant to learn things about the issue, about ourselves, about others, and what we are trying to accomplish along the way.


One challenge, for example, is that it’s easy to fall into the trap of creating false deadlines and being disappointed when you don’t satisfy them.  How many of us have tried to diet to lose weight, and set an arbitrary goal for ourselves of losing xx pounds in 30 days?  And when invariably we miss the goal, what do we do?  Most of us tend to become frustrated by our “slow” progress and give up.  We may even convince ourselves that we gave it our all, but it just “wasn’t meant to be” simply because things didn’t seem to be falling into place the way we thought they should and as quickly as we desired.  We focus on the “slow” instead of acknowledging and celebrating the “progress.”


The same mentality holds true across our society … from the corporate boardroom, to the media and its’ “24 hours news cycle,” to how we teach and learn.


And, this is the exact reason why we must learn to be comfortable and take pleasure in going the long way … because, otherwise, we can prematurely abandon and give up the good things in life that God means for us to experience.


When we’ve found a way to enjoy taking the long way, we become more motivated to continue trying longer and giving everything we have without losing heart over short-term setbacks.


When we’ve found a way to enjoy taking the long way, our success in reaching a goal is not likely to be tainted with disappointment or frustration because things didn’t not come together as quickly or precisely as planned.


By finding a way to enjoy taking the long way, we are continually motivated by the smallest sign of progress and how positive momentum is built step by step … by appreciating and being grateful for each step.  And by valuing the relationships we build along the way.


Does this mean we should never abandon a goal or revaluate the direction you are going?  Of course not.  However, the fact that something is taking “too long,” or, that we are tired of only taking small steps shouldn’t serve as a rationale for giving up.  Rather, we should always try to make certain we are doing things that are aligned with our goals, with what we believe we should be doing with our lives … and ultimately with what we believe to be God’s desire for our lives.


If you’re in a place where you are questioning something because it is taking too long, then step back, ask yourself if what you are doing is really contributing to your long-terms goals for your life.  And ask yourself if you are enjoying and value each step along the way … even if one small step is missed, if an arbitrary goal along the way is delayed, or even if there is a setback.


All those small steps represent our life.  So give yourself credit for everything you’ve done, even the little things.  And have confidence that God desires only the best for you in your life … and acknowledge it’s based on God’s timing and not our own.


So what can we do?


Pray.  Regularly visit with God and ask Him if the goals and action plan you have created for your life are in line with God’s plans for you.  And trust God has your best interests at heart.


Your action plan.  Constantly review and complete steps within your personal action plan.  Break the plan down in to small steps with reasonable goals and time to accomplish each step.


Let go of expectations.  Don’t create false deadlines or assume that things have to go a certain way.  Be flexible and allow things to unfold in their own way and in their own time.  And don’t assume your overall goal is a failure if you miss one small step along the way or have a setback.  Reassess and keep moving forward.


Remind yourself of – and appreciate - the benefits. There are advantages to taking things one small step at a time and learning along the way.  And while you’re doing that, you are living your life.  Appreciate each step and be grateful.


Acknowledge your progress.  Acknowledge the small things you’ve accomplished.  Same goes for the larger things you’ve accomplished.  Give yourself credit.  We’re taught to be modest, and we feel uncomfortable patting ourselves on the back.  But really, it’s ok.  Not only is it ok, it’s necessary.  We each need to feel good about the small and larger things we have accomplished.


Know that it works.  We should still desire to take quantum leaps from time to time.  Those are ok depending on the timing and circumstance.  Yet at the same time, we can acknowledge that by taking small steps we do arrive where we are meant to be … and we arrive capable of appreciating our success for the experiences and work that led us there … one step at a time.


When we successfully take the long way, the irony is that when we look back we realize we would not have changed much about the journey, even if it took us longer than expected.  We can be grateful for the journey, and be content that it was the path meant for each of us.


“We are so often caught up in our destination that we forget to appreciate the journey, especially the goodness of the people we meet on the way.  Appreciation is a wonderful feeling, don’t overlook it.”
-Source Unknown



“Live your life each day as you would climb a mountain.  An occasional glance toward the summit keeps the goal in mind, but many beautiful scenes are to be observed from each new vantage point.  Climb slowly, steadily, enjoying each passing moment; and the view from the summit will serve as a fitting climax for the journey.”
-Harold V Melchert


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Posted on 2 April, 2010 in Career, Goals, Happiness
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