I like fast.

I talk fast. I walk fast. I eat fast. I write fast. I take action fast.

Fast is not always the best option, though. There are plenty of life’s pleasures that should be enjoyed slowly; savored and relished within an atmosphere that signifies deep gratitude. Fast is also not the best when it leads to burn out. That was the pattern in my life before I started the 30 in 30 Challenge  – massive action followed by colossal inaction. The Challenge helped me break out of that cycle, and the more I experience the fruit of this new way of living, the more I am appreciating slow.

Remember the tale of the Tortoise and the Hare? The Hare started out confident, looking at his opponent and knowing completely that he was going to win the race. After all, what is seemingly the most important trait of a racer? Speed! Surely the Tortoise would not be able to keep up with the sheer velocity of the Hare. So what happened? The race began and the Hare was immediately so much further ahead than the Tortoise that he decided he could afford to take a break. He laid down under a tree and fell fast asleep.

Meanwhile, the Tortoise steadily continued along his path from point A to point B. His moves didn’t look impressive or remarkable in any way. He wasn’t boasting or declaring his victory to onlookers. He simply, quietly, kept moving forward undeviatingly. He wasn’t fast. He was consistent.

morla, turtoise in Hellbrunner Zoo, Munich

We all know how the story ends. The Hare kept sleeping as the Tortoise slowly passed him by. When he woke up, it was already passed the point of no return. He was too far behind. The initially lagging Tortoise won the race.  I have always been the Hare. It is just my personality to take off running with whatever I am doing. In recent days, though, I’m seeing the benefits of being the Tortoise.

I started planning my school over the summer and hit the ground running with weekly info meetings, posting flyers all over town, and plastering social media at every turn. All my activity even caught the attention of some local reporters and I made the news! I thought for sure that I was going to sign up a bunch of families before the beginning of the school year, and started stressing about whether or not I would have enough space to host all these people. Yet the first day of classes came, and the only family signed up was my own. I thought vaguely about quitting. No one would blame me – I gave it my best shot. The odds were not in my favor, but I knew what God called me to do and decided to stick it out – much like the Tortoise. Yesterday, two weeks into classes, I enrolled two more students. I expect growth throughout the year, slow and steady.

Here’s another example. I’ve been running for 30 minutes on the treadmill every single day for the last 49 days straight. I’ve never exercised for only 30 minutes at a time as I thought it would be a waste of time. Yet I’ve also never exercised for 49 days straight. It has done something to me mentally. I realized all the excuses I would give myself in the past to quit or skip a day. I noticed how quickly I expected to see results, what those results looked like to me, and how easily I was disappointed when they didn’t reflect my expectations. That was the Hare mentality.

This time around, the discipline I’ve gained from being consistent on the treadmill has carried over into every other area of my life. Within the last 49 days I’ve increased my stamina/speed/endurance, regained my focus, started a business, began blogging daily, reconnected with family and friends, gotten my passion and vision back, and made plans to start distributing the music I recorded two years ago. Those are not the normal results you’d expect from starting an exercise regimen.

I got those results thinking like the Tortoise, not like the Hare. Hare mentality had me training for a Spartan Race when I hadn’t exercised in over a year. Hare mentality had me stepping on the scale every day to see how much weight I was losing. Hare mentality burned me out long before any of the aforementioned benefits could’ve possibly kicked in.

So here’s the point, my dears. With whatever you’re doing, it’s awesome to have big goals and expect to see results – but think like the Tortoise. Determine to stay in it for the long haul. Make a decision that if things don’t go down the way you had hoped (the Hare took off and left you in the dust), positive results have no choice but to surface if you don’t quit. No matter what, keep moving forward. If you stop, you lose – so enjoy the process and soon you will be loving the victories that accompany persistence.

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