How to Be Patient When All you Want is to Succeed RIGHT NOW
“Patience is a virtue.” I don’t know why, but I always imagine a southern woman saying this, maybe because I grew up in a part of Florida that was more Georgia than Miami, so accents abounded—fake or only slightly fake.
When we’re in school, a week is a lifetime. Forty-five minute classes pass about as quickly as seconds in a plank during a hot pilates class. Each year is an eternity.
As we get older, and adulthood hits us like an unexpected revolving door panel, weeks slip by like sticky summer days, lost in a mess of Wednesdays, Fridays, and weekends that are mostly spent with our eyes closed. Fourteen-year-old me would have given me a this is a joke, right? if I told her that waiting three months for editors to read my new book was not only not that long, it was normal.
Three months?!? That was an entire semester in school. Dozens of tests, and essays, and gym classes, and embarrassing moments all wrapped together into a huge chunk of time.
Even at twenty-three, three months still seems like a while. But, as we’ve all figured out by now (if not, spoiler alert), here’s another cliché: good things take time.
Let me correct that. Good things take ages.
Because, in reality, it isn’t just the three months I wait for an editor to read my book. It’s the (optimistic) four months to write the book. Then, the two months to edit it. Then, the months to go back and forth with my agent editing it some more.
It’s a process that can easily take a year.
Fourteen-year-old me just passed out.
So, knowing that any goal you have—whether it’s to start your own company, climb your corporate ladder, or finish your own creative project—is going to take a lot longer than it took to write that pretty goal on your inspiration board, how in the world do you stay patient without losing your mind? Or, more importantly, without losing your resolve?
Four years ago, I created a mobile app. I came up with the idea, taught myself how to use Adobe InDesign, and designed every frame of it myself. Then, I hired developers. This was the first time in my life that I realized the old saying about home renovations also applies to basically every other project in your life—it’ll take twice as long, and twice as much money as you originally thought.
Whatever goal you have, come up with a timeframe you think you can realistically complete it in. Then, double that number.
You might wince. Might think, that’s a really long time…
So, it’s time to be honest with yourself. Can you actually commit to doing this, even if it takes that long? Do you still want to work toward your promotion, knowing it could take two years? Do you still want to start that company knowing it could be dozens of months before you make a dime?
Having realistic expectations for how long something will take will keep you patient. If you know you are most likely not going to get any important e-mail for four months, you aren’t going to check your inbox every day, are you? You’re going to shrug, and not even think about it until three and a half months later, at which point, your inbox will be permanently clued to your desktop screen, and you’ll unconsciously click on the Gmail app each time you open your phone, even if you were really aiming for Seamless.
The other key to patience is realizing that huge goals are not accomplished in a single day—they are accomplished day by day. Every small step you take, every task you check off of your to-do list, will add up to that big thing. So, instead of getting discouraged when you have only 5,000 words of a novel that’s supposed to be 80,000, think to yourself that each of these words is necessary to get to the next. And the only way to the finish line is to keep moving forward.
Remember that time frame you gave yourself for accomplishing your goal? Split it up into months. If your number is 1 year, then divide that goal into 12 sub-goals. For example, if you’ve given yourself a year to write an 80,000-word book, at nine months, you’d want to have your first draft completed. At four months, you’d want to be halfway done. Got it? Any dream can be chopped up into pieces. Take those pieces now, and write them into your monthly planner, or Google Calendar. Hold yourself accountable for each one, knowing that the only way you’ll reach the end of the game is to collect these small tokens on your way.
Being patience is all about keeping in mind the bigger picture.