How Many Licks Does it Take?

Hopefully that title is recognizable enough to anyone reading this.  If not, it is from an old Tootsie Pop commercial asking “How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll Center of a Tootsie Pop?”

If this reference is before your time, Google it or check it out on YouTube here:

I don’t have a clue how many licks it takes.  I am not ashamed to admit that over the years of my youth and even some of my adult life, I have tried to solve this mystery.  Yeah, I know – that’s weird.

The funny thing is that I never actually cared how many licks it took.  Not even a little bit.

What I was interested in was COULD I DO IT?  I tried again and again.  Sadly, I have to report that I have yet to achieve this goal.  I still bite into that sucker.

There was a light and dark side to this endeavor.

  • The dark side was my lack of patience. The apparent lack of ability to see this challenge through.  I absolutely hate that.  This is still on my to-do list.
  • The light side was that I took on the challenge – again and again and again. While I have yet to succeed, I have not given up.

Now who would have thought a Tootsie Pop could have some real life lessons?

Patience is a serious issue for me.  Once I set a goal, I want it now.  If I have something new to learn, I want to know it all right now.  If I plan an adventure, I want to head out the door tomorrow.  I have one hell of a time waiting for things.  Throw in a Type A personality and I can be a boatload of fun (NOT) when I am anxiously anticipating some goal or event.

The truth of the matter is, if you got everything you wanted right when you wanted it, what would be the purpose of living?  What would there be to look forward to?

There is a quote attributed to St. Augustine “Patience is the companion of Wisdom.”  Think about that a little.  There is some real truth there.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have had to wait for plenty throughout my life.  It doesn’t mean I liked it.  I have also learned that some of the best things in my life have come in time, with repeated effort and some thought.

Like anyone else, I do plenty of self-evaluation.  Where do I want to improve?  My impulsiveness and lack of patience are currently high on my list.  We live in an “instant” world.  This only seems to be contributing to the problem.  I used to read books by the dozens.  While I still read, I find myself struggling to stay engaged the way that I used to.  I don’t like that.

In order to reach our goals and have successful relationships, you have to bring your ‘A’ game in the patience department.  The best things come to those who wait (God how I hate that quote)!

So what can I do to improve my patience?  I did a little research.  Here are some things I am going to try:

  • I am going to try to think ahead less. I am a planner, this will be a challenge.
  • I am going to practice delaying gratification. Making myself wait for it. (This should be interesting!)
  • I am going to try breaking my HUGE goals into smaller, more easily achievable ones.
  • I am going to work on thinking a little longer before I speak.
  • I going to look at limiting things that make me act impulsively (like reading those travel deal emails).
  • I am going to work on enjoying the process of an activity rather than racing toward the finish line to complete it.
  • I am going to put my phone down more when I am in the company of other humans and really LISTEN.
  • I am going to read a little, like real pages in a book, every day.
  • I am going to write more.

A side benefit of being impulsive and impatient is that you get shit done.  When you want to see something happen, it is not likely you will sit around and wait for it.  Another benefit is that you get to have some interesting experiences.  When you are impulsive, you often say ‘let’s do it’ before you really think about it.  This certainly keeps life interesting.  Trust me!

It’s OK to be impatient sometimes as long as you can keep perspective and control so you don’t find yourself being impatient about everything.  My gauge right now is ‘Do I have any control?’  If I find being impatient in a situation where I have absolutely no control over the cause of my impatience (i.e. traffic, grrrrr . . .) I check myself.  I turn on music.  I do whatever it takes to keep from being stressed about something that is not only out of my control but just not worth it.  It takes a conscious effort.

It’s OK to be impulsive as long and you are not hurting yourself, hurting others or creating difficult situations with poor choices.  I have planned a couple of trips on a whim in the last couple of weeks.  These were not originally in my Master Plan for 2016 or my budget.  Good!  I need to live in the moment more and my budget had the room for some fun.  Off I go!

When you get down to it, it all comes back to that ever popular word right now – Balance.  In all things, find it, embrace it, live it.

If you really want to improve your patience and impulse control, attempt to discover how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll Center of a Tootsie Pop.  When you figure it out, let me know!


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