Do you have patience?

I think most of us think we’re patient, but truly we’re not. Not at all. This is why half-finished novels languish on hard drives (guilty), diets fail after two weeks (guilty), and you play the same 16 bars of a song over and over and never finish the damn thing (not guilty. I’m looking at you, darling husband. ;))

I probably don’t need to tell you we like instant gratification in our culture. And it doesn’t help when we see young celebrities making it big. At 21, I was told I was “too old” to make it as a singer. I totally took that to heart. I told myself I’d quit if I didn’t make it by age 23. I ended up quitting at 22.

Wow. That was me not understanding the value of patience and perseverance. I don’t know if I would have “made it”, but that’s irrelevant. I just gave up because someone else gave me a success-timeline and my reality didn’t match it.

I’ll be 30 soon, and I’ve noticed patience comes easier these days. I can see the long view, because I’ve lived long enough to look back ten years and see how my adult life has changed in a decade. I can see how long it took for certain things to grow and change, and how achievements were made one plodding step at a time.

My husband’s deployments and long days at work taught me to wait without pointlessly fighting against reality. But I think my three year old taught me the most about patience. There was a lot of patience involved in her first year. She had colic and was allergic to dairy and soy, so I had to learn to cook new foods I didn’t want to eat. She also wanted to breastfeed around the clock.

I spent so very much time stuck in one place breastfeeding, often with nothing to occupy my mind. I had to just give in to the waiting and relax. And this happened every few hours, every single day… for 33 months. (Yes. Thirty-three months.  It felt like forever, yet went by so fast. The kid’s smarter than I ever was at 3, and she seriously never gets sick. I’m dying of bronchitis, day 11, over here, and she had a fever for a day and a slight runny nose.)

It all comes down to taking the long view–knowing where you want to be–and just doing things, one step at a time, every day, until you get there. And you can’t give up. Amazon might deliver what you want in a neat little box the day you expect it, but the universe does not work that way. You can switch Amazon the universe in that last sentence out for “God”, if you like.

I do believe we each have a path to travel, but we don’t necessarily know where it’s going to lead, and we certainly can’t dictate when we’ll arrive. (Also, do you really ever want to “arrive”… that kind of seems final. I mean… if I’m at the end of my journey…well I’m dead, right?)

Have more patience by understanding what you control:

Your job is to be ready when opportunity comes knocking.

Every day, you just keep adding words to that book, or log calories, or add another few notes to that song. You work on your craft, you work on the art, you gain new skills. You can pursue opportunities, but only if you’re ready.

You can enjoy yourself NOW.

I’m almost done with The Desire Map by Danielle La Porte, and she’s all about identifying the emotions you hope to feel when you reach your illusive goals, and then striving to feel them every. single. day. You can go ahead and slap your forehead now. You want to achieve certain dreams because of how you imagine they’ll make you feel once you reach them. You want to get published and feel validated and have fans, or you want to fit into smaller jeans to feel sexy again, or whatever. Each and every day, you get to decide what you want to do that can help you feel those feelings right now.
What’s the point of taking the journey if every day is miserable?

Be 100% sure the goal you are trying to reach is something you truly care about.

If you aren’t enjoying the journey, get off the path! Find a new one. Life’s too short to be miserable.

If you think you’ve waited too long, wait a little longer.

I love that quote:  “The darkest hour is just before the dawn.” (I love it a little too much. The theme keeps showing up in all my books.) I think far too many people quit right before things would have gotten easier for them–or quit just before they would have succeeded. I know I’ve been guilty of thinking I’ve tried sooo hard, and that I just wasn’t going to make it. So I quit, only to realize later that I might have been very close to success, or realizing that my efforts weren’t strong enough and I needed to tweak my strategy, not quit.

Besides, if you are working toward a goal and already enjoying yourself, it makes the waiting feel a lot less like…well, waiting.

 

 

 

 

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