Playing the Long Game, Slowing Down, and Becoming Better

Recently, I had a choice to make. I was working on a book and I could try to get that published and be a writer full-time. Or I could go to graduate school and keep learning. And I chose to go to graduate school.

I love writing and I want to write for my career (my career goals are to write books and teach college classes). I wanted to start writing multiple books and articles and blog posts and figure out how to get a social media following.

I went to a nonfiction writing workshop this spring, and at the end of my workshop, I talked with my teacher and told her I was thinking about graduate school. She suggested I was young enough that I could put my book away and just focus on graduate school and that what I would learn would enable me to be a better writer for the future.

That’s hard sometimes. It’s hard to play the long game, to work on improving yourself and your skills instead of just going for things.

And sometimes that is not the right decision. I know some people who may have spent too much time developing their talents and not enough time sharing them. Some people hesitate when they need to go for it.

So how do we know when we’re ready? How do we know when it’s time to slow down, and when it’s time to speed it up?

First, I think we always should be working on self-improvement and becoming better. We should be continually learning and improving ourselves, even if we have obtained some success. We should maintain humility that we can become better.

Second, we should look at our long -term goals and see if slowing down would work better for those long-term goals. I could have pursued writing full-time, but I have always wanted to teach college classes, and so going to graduate school was the opportunity I really needed.

Third, we should look if our actions are governed by fear of rejection and failure. If you don’t think you’re good enough, is that simply because you are afraid that you might fail? Would there be any harm in trying?

Fourth, we should always be working on good long-term goals that will enable us to improve ourselves and help others.

You might not have a clear direction of exactly where your life is going, and that’s okay. But how can you become better? How can you serve others? In what areas of your life do you need to slow down and in what areas do you need to go for it? Maybe your answer is that you need to do a little bit of both–step by step, improving yourself, sharing with others, and working towards being the best you can be.

Two years ago, we built this wall brick by brick. It was a long and slow process, and we weren’t very good at it, but we tried our best and it worked out.