How to Have More Patience
I’ve been told I was impatient since I was a small child, whining the obligatory ‘are we there yet?’ from the backseat of my Dad’s stuffy Ford hatchback.
I despised waiting for anything.
Even school holidays were a drag. But then, school was even more of a drag.
Patience is something I still struggle with today, even as an almost fully-functioning adult.
Even though mindfulness meditation has helped me an awful lot in cultivating patience; I felt it was one thing that I needed expert advice on.
So, I thought who better to ask than James Wedmore and Phoebe Mroczek, hosts of Mind Your Business – a podcast I’ve been OBSESSED with since episode #1. It deals with all juicy topics related to mindset – so I figured it would be the perfect forum for my patience-deficiency.
You can hear the full episode here, with the duo tackling my query, but you can also read through this post for my takeaway tips from their answer.
So, how do you have more patience?
The difference between patience and persistence
It’s important to distinguish patience and persistence here, especially in the context of goal achievement.
For example, being stuck in a line at the post office requires patience. You know there will come a time when you won’t be stuck there (even if it’s hard to imagine it) and all you need to do is chill in the knowing that time will come.
Persistence is what you need when growing a business, or losing weight. You have your goals, and you know there’s a good chance you’ll reach them IF you persist and do the work. Both patience and persistence are required.
But sometimes your goal might be a little unrealistic, or at least your actions are out of alignment with your path to reach that goal. No amount of patience will help you here – and persistence (ie. keeping on keeping on) may actually be a detriment to the situation.
Knowing when to quit is the key here. That’s exactly the kind of dilemma I struggle with: knowing when to have patience and persistence, and knowing when to bow out.
James asked Phoebe the question:
Do you know the sun is rising tomorrow? (Phoebe: Yes)
Are you impatient about it? (Phoebe: No)
This demonstrated perfectly that feeling of certainty we’re trying to cultivate with our goals in life. That’s the kind of patience we want to embody.
One of my affirmations (or should I say, incantations) recently has been this:
“I am in a state of certainty”
Now, we can’t control everything – I get that. Nor can we look into the future. Life is full of surprises, I know.
But there is a feeling, a faith, that we can cultivate that reminds us: everything will work out in the end.
I find great comfort in reminding myself of that, and it certainly (heh) makes me feel more patient.
Enjoy the journey
While we’re patiently waiting for our good things, it’s kind of vital that we’re enjoying the journey we’re on.
No one says it better than Abraham Hicks. Whatever you think of her/them, there are some truly powerful and useful messages that come forth.
It may be a cliché, but you have to enjoy the NOW – the current challenge, the wins, the lessons. Feeling that feeling now, regardless of your current situation, will honestly make the time go quicker.
It’s like birthing a baby (not that I’d know) but you know it takes 9 months, and no amount of rushing and willing it to pop out half-baked (sorry) would help.
Don’t give up
Another Hicksian parable:
Imagine that you’re in a car. Driving from one side of the country to the other.
When you know where you are, even if you’re stuck in traffic you can power through.
But what if you don’t know where you are? You decide to give up and go home, out of sheer frustration.
You then find out you were nearly at your destination; just a few more miles and you’d have been there.
Success was inevitable but you gave up.
This is when patience AND persistence need to be called on, and also why ‘mile markers’ are super handy when you have a long distance to travel to your goal.
This idea of mile markers is genius to me. It’s not a new idea: when you break a lofty goal down into chunks, you can reach them one at a time, and take a look back at where you’ve come.
Are you on track? How does that achievement make you feel? Is it time to have a mini-celebration?
They keep us motivated – and there’s nothing like a big boost of motivation juice to restore patience when it wanes.
Look at where you’re going
Mile markers also remind us to keep focussed. It’s easy to conjure up a big idea, a big goal and to do nothing to achieve it.
We can forget about it, or just decide it’s too big to ever reach.
Keeping our mile markers in clear site; at the forefront of our mind, is key to actually hitting them.
Target fixation is a real, observable phenomenon. You will hit whatever you focus on.
You see evidence of this in car crashes all the time – someone sees a boulder in the road, and intends to swerve but ends up hitting it because they were so fixated on the object.
To put a more positive spin on it, make that object your GOAL. Look at where you want to go, and us mile markers to help make it feel more attainable.
Navigate using signs
This is where measurement and feedback comes in to play.
If we stay on the car analogy, this is like working out it took 1 hour to drive 50 miles, so you can predict, at mile 50, it will take another hours or so to get to your destination.
Looking for signs, for proof things are working can help build our CERTAINTY and therefore, make us more patient we’re on the right track – and to stick on it.
When you see where you’ve come you can see you’re moving in the right direction.
Plus it builds your motivation to carry on, keep focussed, and keep the passion alive.
Find your driftwood
When Christopher Columbus found driftwood in the sea, he knew himself and his crew were close to land.
So how do we find our driftwood?
One way is to request a sign, like, from the universe.
Seriously. I’ve mentioned my morning pages before, but it really is well worth trying.
First thing in the morning, when you’re still in a state that’s unhampered by the to-do list and emails and texts, set your morning intention to receive a sign.
I like to use my journal for this. I literally write down my question; whatever it is I’m feeling uncertain about, and see what comes out.
Usually I’ll get an answer right then and there and I’ll start writing the answer. It might be worth repeating for a few mornings, to see what else comes up – but often, that answer is inside me.
Sometimes though, I just ‘put it out there’, so that my sign (my driftwood) comes in other forms.
It might be that day; an email from someone.
Or it might be weeks from that point.
But weirdly, when you put out that intention to find a sign, just something to know you’re going in the right direction – it just shows up.
The left-brain approach
Oh ok, so you’re not ready for that woo-woo bit yet.
That’s cool. How about looking at some numbers?
This could take the form of ‘proof from profit’ ie. how does your cash flow show you you’re going in the right direction?
Where are people paying you? Or showing you they will pay you?
If you don’t know, ask! Someone telling you ‘Good job’ isn’t enough.
Noah Kagan’s Sumo Jerky experiment is a great example of this in practise.
You can get these kind of concrete signs from asking for early bird signups, asking in Facebook groups, and my personal favourite (and also my most feared) speaking to people!
No one is coming to give you permission
This was the final message I got from James and Phoebe. I think it resonated me as I’m the youngest child of 4, and have always relied on others to give me permission.
No one will dub you the expert. No one will tell you you’ve ‘made it’ or that you’re ready, or give you permission.
Seth Godin has a great free PDF on this topic.
There won’t be a time where you’ll have ‘made it’; so (1) be appreciative of the journey you’re on now, every step of the way and (2) know that the journey you are on is the right one, and you’re EXACTLY where you need to be right now.
Have patience, because it will all work out in the end, exactly how it is meant to.