Patience

We previously discussed perseverance as the first part of what makes a person successful in life. Without it there is no chance at all that you can make a sustained effort toward accomplishing your goals. It is only when we are able to continue on in the face of adversity that we are able to realize our dreams, because no matter what your dream is there will always be some sort of resistance trying to prevent you from getting where you want to go.

Though it is not necessarily required, patience is an important part of the process. It is something that most of us struggle with in this new world of instant gratification. There are certainly impatient people who have achieved many amazing things, but these are truly outliers. Their success can usually be attributed to extreme chance. Truly successful people tend to be very patient, and there is an important reason for this.

To persevere in the face of challenge, you have to be able to set aside your desire for instant reward. A goal worth obtaining is unlikely something that is possible to achieve overnight, which means that you will have to assume some amount of time between starting down the road toward your destination and actually arriving there. It is exactly this understanding of required time to completion that makes patience such a powerful asset. Perseverance is greatly enhanced when you have it and greatly undermined when you don’t.

There are two aspects to patience to consider when applying it to personal objectives. The first is capacity, by which I mean that the more patience you are able to learn, the more capacity for perseverance you will have. When you are able to keep patience in the forefront of your thinking, you will find it much easier to take those small steps that perseverance requires. Knowing that this one step isn’t going to instantly deliver you the results you seek will make taking that step far less daunting.

Not only that, but it also increases your capacity for perseverance by intuitively helping you to break that huge task into smaller chunks. It is almost impossible to become overwhelmed by a big task when you have the patience to understand that big tasks are simply a combination of smaller tasks over time. Rather than fixating on the end product, you are able to let go of the idea that it needs to be done right away and you start focusing your effort on the goal of the moment. You aren’t ignoring the destination, but you are ensuring that you are taking the proper step right now that pushes you toward your destination.

The second aspect of patience is that of personal well being. While capacity is the ability to increase your level of perseverance from a process perspective, personal well being is the ability to reduce stress on yourself so that it doesn’t interfere with your motivation to continue with your task. It is an emotional property rather than a technical one that directly influences our ability to find the strength to continue.

At first glance, it seems like these are the same thing. They both allow us to begin a big task and continue forward, but there is a subtle difference and it is important to understand it because both sides are critical. The capacity aspect of patience is more about finding ways to make the process more manageable, while the well being aspect is about learning to control our feelings so negativity doesn’t creep in and start undermining our efforts. When you practice patience toward your goal, you are not only making a plan, but you are aligning your emotions so they fit in with that plan.

The most dangerous impediment to your plans is allowing impatience to make your decisions for you. Perhaps you started with the patience of making a plan that breaks your task up into smaller pieces, but then you run into some sort of roadblock and start becoming frustrated. Impatience rears its head and you give in to it and make a decision that completely ruins everything you’ve done so far. Failing to practice emotional patience usually results in the same outcome as simply failing to practice patience in our planning. There are stumbling blocks at every turn, and the best plan in the world fails every time if we don’t actually follow it.

So if we understand that patience has at least two properties that we need to implement into our process, it becomes easier to learn how to combine patience with perseverance to get where we’re trying to go. Unfortunately, it just isn’t that simple. If it were, everyone would do it, and clearly we do not. I am certainly continually guilty of not being able to find patience, regardless of the fact that I understand its value and I am laying it out here in this article. No one is perfect.

That shouldn’t discourage us. Part of patience is knowing that you probably aren’t going to do it right the first time. I have failed so many times in my life, but if I can find the patience to continue trying, there is a good chance that simply through the law of averages I will find some level of success that is meaningful to me. If you try enough times, you eventually win. That’s just statistics.

The idea here is to learn how to not be discouraged by failure or waiting. It is extremely hard to wait and your emotions are going to roil about inside you trying to knock you off course. If you can learn to control that turmoil, you will begin to see that you are much more effective and things begin coming much more quickly because your effort is focused and you are much more efficient about getting things done.

What do you think about perseverance and patience? How much more do you need to work on it? Does thinking about these concepts in a more defined way help you see where you’re struggling? Hopefully something here causes a click inside that makes things make more sense, and someday that will turn into the amazing success you’ve been hoping for.

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