I’ve had a realisation this week. It’s simple – extend the time I think things take to get done. Chill. Then continue.

photo by Ann Le
photo by Ann Le

Much of my anxiety I realise comes from thinking things should go faster – the call to Bigpond, typing an email, this book I’m writing. My friend Gio who lives a languid life and is one of the most successful people I know (in the whole sense of the word) suggested this. He TRIPLES project times when he gets anxious. He’s a jeweller, a surfer, a bon vivant, a spiritualist, a wonderful partner, a fantasy property creator and he gets it all done…in the fullness of time. I’ve never seen him rushed.

Hofstadters’s Law states everything takes longer than you think (he also has some zany theories on consciousness). I read a study that said the biggest cause of procrastinating among successful people is underestimating how long things take. When they realise how long it will really take, they balk.

And lately I’ve noticed so many instances where things that are rushed through turn out so bodgy. Politics feels like this at the moment (pink batts etc). And I’ve read articles and books lately that feel this way, too. It’s deflating.

Anyway, I came across this. The cerebraly rich Ira Glass, host of radio show This American Life, offers this: excellence doesn’t come automatically, he says. “Being great takes time”…

I find this supremely comforting. I’ve written before about how Bruce Springsteen took six months to compose Born to Run. It’s been said it takes 10,000 hours for an athlete to become good at what they do. And this from Albert Einstein:

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”

I’ve given myself more time and space to write my book. It’s too important to me not to a) enjoy it b) let it unfold as it NEEDS to c) be laced with my anxiety.

If you’re stressed about a project right now I invite you to ask whether it is possible to extend the deadline…can you add on space….room to stretch out and to enjoy the process. Most of us know how to work to strict deadlines. And there’s a difference between asking for a deadline because you’re not facing up to what you have to do, and asking for space to do things well and with consideration.

Can you?

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