In the book Take My Advice: Letters to the Next Generation from People who Know a Thing or Two, James Harmon organized a collection of letters from creative people he admired, even though most of the world would not call them celebrities. Richard Meltzer is one of the many writers who sent Harmon a letter to be published in his book, and one of the themes in Meltzer’s letter is accepting that success and becoming good at something takes longer than what we would like. Meltzer writes, “it will in all likelihood take you much longer than you expect— an unfair percentage of the time you’ve got left — to get much of anything right.” This is an important quote for young people today to understand since so often we want success to happen immediately. “You have to factor in the LONG HAUL,” Meltzer continued as he explained that in order to achieve the goals and desires, we must plan for the unavoidable periods of mundane and hard work.
I know that I have felt a lot of pressure to succeed and to reach certain milestones very quickly. The pressure comes from the outside as well as the inside as I criticize myself for not having achieved goals, whether they relate to exercise, finances, or personal hobbies. From the outside we are all driven to achieve a level of success that other people expect from us. We see the lives that our parents have and strive to reach or exceed their lifestyle, and we compete against our peers and high school classmates to be impressive. All of these pressures can be damaging, especially if we expect to achieve success overnight.
Factoring in the long haul means that you are aware of the hard work that it will take to build the experience necessary to grow. It involves showing up, being self aware, and re-organizing your desires so that you can have alignment in your life. The amount of time it takes to reach the level we all desire takes longer than what seems fair as we spend our younger lives preparing ourselves to become the person we want to be. Constant self awareness and accepting the fact that the hard work is not sexy will help us continue to grow and reach for new opportunities, no matter how slowly we seem to progress towards our dreams.