All of us have things we wish were different in our lives, so we start initiating action to change ourselves. We’d of course like the change to be instantaneous and we’d like to change all the things we wish were different at the same time, but alas we encounter limits in our ability to change.
Our own rate of change is like our air speed after jumping from a plane. Initially we accelerate toward our end point moving faster and faster. Eventually however, we reach terminal velocity: we are still moving quickly in the direction we intended, we just aren’t moving any faster. The resistance of the air is pushing back on us just as hard as the earth is pulling us toward itself.
Similarly, our ability to change has a terminal velocity. Often we start a change in our lives and just when things are moving in the right direction, the earth doesn’t look like it’s getting any closer nor do we feel like we are moving any faster. Instead of staying the course, we pull the rip cord and start drifting somewhere else. But it’s not only when we get bored that we end up floating in a different direction, it also happens when we get distracted.
Recently, I was trying to feed a newborn baby. The bottle was in her mouth but she wasn’t sucking, she was instead wriggling and moving her hands and feet all over the place. So many new sensations that she couldn’t actually do the most vital — eating. Everything was set to satisfy her hunger, but she was too distracted. We swaddled her arms and legs so they were held tight and almost right away she realized there was a bottle in her mouth and started eating.
We can be the same way and think we can change 100 things all at once, but just as we can’t change more quickly than our terminal velocity, similarly we can’t change many things at once. Sometimes in order to focus on changing the right thing, we need to free ourselves from the distractions, even good ones, that keep us from the most vital things.
Improvement only occurs with consistent effort applied over a long period of time.
Let’s not get frustrated when we wish it was happening faster but stay the course. Similarly, let’s not try to fix everything but fix and improve the most important things first. Just like free fall, we have a terminal velocity to how quickly we can change.
Photo Credit: Andy Ciordia