Achieving a goal or dream can be very difficult. I know this from loads of experience in fighting and failing to reach the places I wanted to go. But from all of my attempts, failures, and successes, there is one thing I’ve learned well: doing anything takes time, sometimes more than we realize.

A lot of people these days have been addicted to instant gratification. If you’re not sure what that is, don’t worry. It’s not as complicated as it sounds.

Instant gratification is when you want satisfaction or an expected positive result right now. You don’t want to wait on the time it takes to achieve the result, nor do you want to put in the necessary amount of work it requires. A big reason why this happens has to do with envy. We see something someone else has, and we want it, too. But we don’t want to wait. We want it now.

How instant gratification successfully screwed up my life

In the past, I got into trouble with wanting things I couldn’t afford to have. Credit cards made it easy to buy things I wanted, but paying them off wasn’t easy. I was spending more than I had coming in just so I could have things I wanted now

I could have just saved money to buy these things outright, but that would have taken time. I didn’t want to wait.

I should have.

What ended up happening was that I caused myself to go into debt fast. I couldn’t find my way back out of it and ended up with creditors coming after me. My credit score tanked, and for several years, I couldn’t do things other people could do, like get a car loan or even a regular cell phone. After those cards were canceled due to failure to pay the debts, I couldn’t get another one for almost 10 years. When I got my first car loan, I had to put down 25% of the cost of the used car I was buying, just to a percentage rate that wasn’t obscene.

Instant gratification screwed me up for years. It also taught me that I need to plan things better and actually save for what I want. I’ve learned that certain things take time. My house is an excellent example of that.

The time it took me to buy a house.

A lot of memes complain about how difficult it is to buy a house and how expensive they are. They ignore the fact that a house is someone else’s property, and they can sell it for whatever they want. If you don’t want to buy it at that price, don’t. Find one that is within your budget and buy that one.

But memes like this do nothing but discourage people. They make you believe that you can’t own a house. Worse, those people who buy that crap end up echoing it as fact, telling you that you can’t buy a house because [insert random bullshit reason].

For years, I wanted to move out of the dumpy single-wide trailer my ex-wife’s parents gave her while we were married. It sits in the back of a crowded trailer park, slowly rusting away and falling apart. But as much as I wanted to get out of that place, I couldn’t, primarily because of how bad I was with money.

When we split up in 2016, I was able to get my life together. I still lived in that shit-shack with both of my kids, but my income took care of us (barely). Still, I worked toward getting debts cleared, and my credit improved.

The woman who would become my new wife helped by getting a job in 2018. Together, we spent the next couple of years laying the groundwork for purchasing a home. This meant staying in that crappy house, dealing with the many problems that were coming at us. We had multiple large appliance failures, car troubles, increasing lot rent fees, loud parties next door at all hours, and much more happening. Still, we stuck it out and kept working on giving ourselves the foundation we needed.

In 2020, the year everything went to crap, my new wife and I were ready to purchase a house. And we did. After years of improving our positions in life and spending months trying to work out the details, we finally bought a house. And we did it while so many others were saying it wasn’t possible. Those same people are still saying that.

Is it the most glamourous one in the world? No, of course not. Does it have problems? Yes. In fact, right now, I need to fix an electrical issue.

But this is OUR house. This wasn’t given to us. We spent a lot of time building ourselves up and working toward signing that pile of paperwork required to become homeowners. It took a long time and many stressful moments where I thought it wasn’t going to happen. Every time we had to spend money on something, I saw that as a thing standing in the way of our future.

But eventually, we got around it and continued going forward. When a big rock falls in the way of a river, blocking the flow, the water may stop for a time. But the water doesn’t think that it can never move forward again. Eventually, with enough effort, the water either pours around the rock or pushes it out of the way.

Don’t stop fighting for your goals.

We’ve all been there before. We have a goal and want to reach it, but things don’t seem to be working out. We watch others get theirs faster than us, and it may seem easy for them. For us, maybe we have to work longer or harder. The worst thing you can do to yourself is let those moments tell you that you can’t do it.

Everyone’s situation is different. This is why you can’t make a direct comparison against others. Instead, you need to keep your eye on the prize at the end of the line. What is it that you’re working toward? What goal is it that you want to achieve?

Right now, for me, I want to become a novelist. I’ve been writing for decades but only recently decided that this is what I want to do with my life. But I don’t have any books published yet. I’m working on it, but I’m not there yet. The reason I’m not there yet is that I’m not done yet. Until I get there, my goal can never be reached. So I have to keep working toward it. I have to keep putting in the time and effort to make sure my goal is achieved.

Some people find it helpful to plot out their goals on paper or at least on a calendar. They’ll also include milestones in between. If you’re not familiar with a milestone, don’t worry, it’s not hard to understand.

A milestone is a smaller goal that helps you complete your larger goal.

For instance, if your goal is to buy a $15,000 car in six months, and you want to have $3000 to put down on it, you may have a milestone that says, “I will save $500 each month by the 30th of that month.” 

This just means you will save $500 each month and will have that cash in hand by the 30th of each of those months. If you meet those milestones, you’ll have $3000 saved to put down on that car by the sixth month.

Milestones make things easier on you because you can see your progress better. They give you smaller goals to work toward. These goals are usually a lot more attainable than the main goal on its own. Doing things that way will help prevent a lot of stress, and it keeps things in perspective.

But what if you don’t meet a milestone?

If you miss a milestone, don’t freak out. This isn’t the end of the world. Well, unless your goal was to prevent the end of the world.

Missing a milestone does happen. When it does, you have to decide how to get things back on track.

In some cases, you may be able to find a way to complete the missed milestone without throwing off the other milestones ahead of it. For saving money, that may mean having to reduce your costs for a few weeks to get back on track. For other things, that may mean working harder, longer, later, or earlier. It just depends on what you’re trying to achieve.

In other cases, you may have to push back your goal. When our appliances kept failing, we had to drop hundreds of dollars each time to get around those problems. That wasn’t money we wanted to spend, but we had to do it. That money could have gone toward other bills to help us improve our credit scores much faster. Instead, we had to wait longer, and sometimes that’s the only way forward.

Some things just take time.

Not everything comes as quickly or easily as others, nor do things come as quickly for you as they do for other people. There are a lot of goals you may set that end up requiring a lot of time to achieve. Losing weight is one of them.

Anyone who has tried to lose weight, especially those who are significantly overweight, will tell you that losing weight is not an easy task. For many, it takes a lot of work to drop even a few pounds. Some people spend months just trying to shed 10lbs. The older and heavier I get, the more I understand this all too well.

For some of us, it can feel nearly impossible to meet our goal weight. Each time we check the scale, it looks like we haven’t been trying at all. But that is no reason to give up. If anything, that’s more reason to keep going. Why? Because that scale is an asshole, and it needs to be shown that you can do it. That’s the way I look at it, at least.

It’s true that some things take longer than others, but that’s just the way life is. Not everything can be easy, nor should it be. And you should not think that just because something is difficult, it isn’t worth attempting or that you can’t do it. How many times have you heard the words “It’s not that easy!” Just because something isn’t easy doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, and it doesn’t mean it can’t be done. It just means it’s going to take time, effort, and persistence to get there.

And that is how you will reach your goals. Keep going, keep fighting, and don’t give up.

If you take nothing else from this article, understand this:

If you are working toward a goal and haven’t reached it yet, you aren’t done yet. It doesn’t matter how long or hard you’ve been working. What matters is that you keep working toward that goal. Do not let others tell you that you can’t do it. The only thing that can stop you from reaching that goal is quitting. Keep going, keep trying, and show yourself that you can do it. When things get in the way, don’t stop. Find a way through or around them. You have a goal to achieve, and you aren’t going to let anyone or anything stop you from achieving it.