Do you have any goals or dreams that you'd be willing to sacrifice for and pursue for the next thirty years or longer? I heard a great story this week that made me stop and consider the question of how long a person ought to continue working toward a single goal. It made me wonder about my own longevity, how long I'm really willing to hang in there.
My friend Tamara's father, Darrel Nelson, has been teaching school for thirty-three years and all the while writing on the side. Tamara grew up watching him try and try again, reading his manuscripts and seeing him squeeze time from the demands of his teaching career and his family in order to continue writing. Now Tamara is in her thirties with several children of her own and her father's first novel, The Anniversary Waltz, is being released this May, 2012.
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As I listened to Tamara describe her dad's long journey to publication she remarked, I'm so proud of him. That statement caught in my throat. And not just because I'm a writer and therefore have a pretty good idea of what Nelson's low points might have felt like during all those years of private toil at a keyboard. And not just because I'm a parent and can recognize the shining words of a child, albeit a grown child, expressing the pride she feels for her parent's work and accomplishments.
Honestly, I think the essence of Nelson's story could be cut and pasted into any of our lives and help center us in our personal goals. Assume it's going to take longer than you thought. Assume that it will be incredibly hard. But assume that there will be an end and it will be a happy ending. Assume that all the people who love you most will rally around you, feeling elated by the thing you set out to do and did. Assume that you will succeed and eventually you will!