Monday, August 6, 2007

Realizing Dreams: Change and Time

Anthony's dad said something once that I thought was very interesting. He said that most people grossly overestimate what they can do in a year and grossly underestimate what they can do in ten years. I think that he is right. At least in my life, I have observed this to be true. There have been huge changes in my lifestyle over the past 6 or 7 years. ie: became a vegetarian, had 1 (almost 2 now) kids, started a business, recycling, using environmental cleaners (still learning), in the process of going car-free...just a couple examples. I think one thing I've learned through this is that lasting, meaningful change takes time and is more about the journey than about the accomplishment.

For example in regard to going car-lite and eventually (hopefully) car-free, the journey began 7 years ago for Anthony when he started commuting to work while car-sharing with roommates for groceries etc. For me, it began with gaining endurance to go farther and faster. After we got married, I started commuting just to work (1.5miles at the time), while Anthony continued to commute a la bike. Then 4 years later, we moved about 12 miles farther from work. Anthony built up endurance over the period of 2 years to doing that distance every day, rain or shine. We got a bike trailer about a year and a half after our son was born, and I again started commuting short distances around town. Each new challenge took a lot of time. It took me a good solid 3-4 months to learn safe ways to get around our city on a bike. I had to learn where the bike lanes and paths were, what roads intersect the path--and at what points so I know where to get off. What gear to bring with me for both me and the toddler. What snacks to bring. How long it takes me to get places so I'm not late for naptime or for work. What repair tools to bring with. These are things I already knew how to do with a car, but had to learn afresh with a bike. I think that is where the "overestimate what you can do in a short amount of time" thing comes in. There is so much to learn, so many adjustments to make, with any change that a person might want to make--be it exercise, nutrition, financial, or environmental. Changes are much more complex than we realize. Just focusing on the goal and the timeline can be so paralyzing. The interesting thing is that when I pray and ask for help with any "life-thing" that is going on, not just going car-lite, I hear the Lord telling me just to take one step and to trust Him with the results. He has often surprised me with what he will do with my tiny offering of faith. So, I guess I will keep trusting him with my dreams and hopes.