Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Long View

"Most people over estimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can do in 10 years!"

I have become somewhat obsessed with this quote over the past couple years and often notice the long view in the stories of people’s success.  I no longer look at someone who has a beautiful singing voice and see only natural talent, I see daily practice and music lessons to learn and hone this skill.  Sports stars who practice, practice practice.  Intellectuals who study, study, study.  You can only get so far on natural talent, intelligence or plane dumb luck, after that it is the work you do each day and the endurance that makes the real difference.  Remember, I have rejected discipline for endurance.

Today I am looking back over our life and seeing all the ways we got where we are with natural talent, intelligence and dumb luck and how little effort we put in or how little we had to endure.  I look back at the purchase of our first house.  While friends were eating Mac and Cheese and saving every dime to come up with the down payment for their first house it never occurred to us we would need to actually come up with cash to sign the paperwork.  When that day came we called up grandpa who cheerfully loaned us the money interest free.  He was excited to help his granddaughter buy her first house; we continue to be grateful for his generosity.  And there was nothing wrong with that, but we certainly didn't create a plan and work it.

Now we all know how much I like to plan so to say there was NO planning might be a stretch but what I am seeing as a pattern in our life is that my plans more informed the direction we would walk rather than the distance we would go.

Now I don’t tell you all this because I think we are failures, lazy people who have never worked for anything.  Success has many facets and where we are at this point in our life is a reflection of our commitment to several of those other facets.  We have sacrificed, have had that directional plan, have worked hard and have educated ourselves of opportunities.  Plus we have not been afraid to take risks and try new things.  All those traits and more have brought us to the point we are in our lives today.

But some successes can never be reached without distance planning and endurance.  

Like becoming an Olympic athlete.  My sister put in some butt time on the hard metal bleachers of a pool in North Carolina watching my niece swim freestyle, breast and back stroke in regional competitions.  She is quite good and even nationally rated for her age group.  Placed 5th for her age in the breast stroke competing against 100 other teams in the southeast part of the US.  Natural talent.  BUT, she also practices almost every single day and stays mentally focused.  She spends hours in the pool every week.  She sacrifices time with friends and stays up late after practice finishing homework.  When she broke her elbow she didn't take a few weeks off; she got a water proof cast and swam with a kick board.  Why?  Well, they say scholarship but I say OLYMPICS!  She won't get there just because she swims occasionally in the summers.  She won't wake up when she is 18 and decide to try out for a scholarship having only swum summers with the neighborhood swim team.  You must see where you are going and then endure through it all, good parts, like this weekend, and bad parts.  The early and late practices, the practices while on vacation, the practices where you don't feel good.  But she does it because she loves it and because she knows where she is going.  She has a plan and she is enduring.

Or Like going to school and becoming a Physician's Assistant in your 40's.  Right now we are very much in the vision and endurance stage of schooling.  Unfortunately, our life is not on hold while John is in school.  So we still have kids to raise, bills to pay, a house to maintain and those things are wearing us out.  It would be so easy to quit right now.  John goes and gets a regular job, I continue working full time, together we could pay our bills and start putting money in the bank.  Maybe sell our house and downsizes to make it even more doable.  We could do that, redirect the plan.  When you aren't really making it financially it does seem like maybe you are on the wrong path.  But, we believe in this path we are on, we are looking long.  We are enduring during these yucky years of being poor college students. The smart phones are gone and the ramen noodle years are upon us.  But we are going somewhere.  We have a plan and we will endure!

We are now almost 2 years in and can see the Associates degree is within our grasp. (Picking up that diploma will be like standing on the top 5 podium at a regional swim competition)  Just think what will be in our sights in another 2 years.  

There will definitely need to be some changes over here.  We are very much in a "make more money or get rid of the house" phase right now.  We have somewhere between 3 and 6 months before our lack of cash makes the choice for us.  So this spring and summer are all about making more money and both of us getting stability in our working situations while John is in school.  If we do so before he re-starts school in the fall we will be good for another 2 years.  If  not the house will go on the market and we will begin yet another part of the adventure we are on while in school.  And, honestly, we will be fine either way.  We would like to stay in our house and keep Isabelle in her school but we are fully prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to achieve our goal and if it is time to move into a little 2 bedroom apartment in a new community, we look forward to the blessings God will bring us while we are there.  We believe in what we are doing and we will endure to the end.

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