Obstacle Busting: Everything Taking Longer Than You Expect

Everything taking longer

This is a weird one…but one that I am often tripped up by. It’s not exactly an obstacle as such…it’s more a weight tied to your legs that slows you down and gives other obstacles a chance to catch up with you and attack. And many of us are prone to underestimating how long everything takes…especially when it comes to creating a fabulous life.

After all, we see all these other people doing things in a snap of a finger…right? Only they don’t. We just see them when they arrive on our radar as a writer, singer, businessperson, beach bum. We don’t see the years up to that point when they were quietly writing, singing, entrepreneuring and looking for their beach. We don’t see how long it actually took to get to where they are.

There are times when you are slowing things down (often by huffing and puffing about things taking so damn long)…but sometimes it is just a matter of resetting your expectations. I remember talking to a business coach about how ‘badly’ my business was doing after 5 years…he laughed out loud and said to me “Donna, your business is still a small child – let go of the expectation that you ‘should’ be further along and be where you are.”

Excellent advice. And advice I hand to you too. You are where you are. Things take as long as they take. When I wrote my first book in 2014, I wasted a lot of time worrying about how long it was taking me (because somehow my expectation was a time-scale of months, not years). Then I read somewhere that big publishers have time-scales for editing, formatting, marketing and release of the book of 12-18 months minimum.

Expectation reset! There are authors (and I’m sure, publishers) who publish faster than I do, but what they do isn’t really my business. If someone else started a business in 40 seconds, or wrote a book in an afternoon, or paid off their debts in a week, that means nothing – you will do it in your time. It will take as long as it takes, no matter what expectations you have.

If you are aware that you tend to underestimate the amount of time things take, either release your expectations altogether and just wait and see how long it actually takes; or quadruple the amount of time you expect it to take. I did this on a project I was working on, and it actually took even longer! My original estimate had been nearly 5 times shorter than the time the project actually needed.

Sometimes it’s not about your expectations as much as your focus…if you’re working on 88 things at once, it will take longer to see any progress on any of them than if you focus your attention and single task. Have a single project on the go (or one major project and one or two minor projects), work on one thing at a time, stop having 56 windows open on your computer.

Since I’ve been doing this, I’ve got so much more finished…previously I’d have had 12 projects on the go at once and got nowhere with any of them. I feel like I’ve accelerated from 2 to 100 miles an hour, just by focusing on one thing until it’s complete. Single tasking is brilliant for making real progress.

Lastly, check whether you are slowing yourself down for some reason. The release of my first book took much longer than expected (by months). This was partly because I decided I was done long before I really was done, and I went and started a new project, thereby cutting the time I could spend on finishing the book in half. It was also partly because I found the finishing bit tedious so I kept putting it off. And finally, it was partly because fears and doubts were raising their heads.

The end of a project is a prime time for fear and stress to appear, because suddenly it’s all becoming very real. Obstacles may appear, you may start putting obstacles in your own path, it’s a perfect moment for some self-sabotage. If you find yourself getting in your own way, firstly DO NOT criticise yourself for it – it is what it is, beating yourself up won’t help you fix it.

Simply notice what is going on, and why. Then change something, do something to make it easier for yourself to cross that finish line. One of my clients found she’d taken her foot off the gas at the end of her project…because it was nearly done. Only there was still quite a lot to do. Once she started putting more time and effort in again, progress was quick and the project was completed. Simply find a solution to whatever problem is causing you to slow yourself down.
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And if you’re not slowing yourself down…just keep swimming. Things take as long as they take, so keep going. The end of a project, goal or dream can be the hardest part…when you feel so close yet so far from the top of the mountain. But if you just keep climbing, you will reach the summit.

PS to find out how the book is going, go to Donnaonthebeach Facebook page to find the video I did about progress…and starting the next book because of nanowrimo! 😀

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