Society’s Unhealthy Relationship with Patience — It’s a Virtue
We have an unhealthy relationship with patience.
We grew up in a world that doesn’t award patience and therefore our relationship with patience is a little, well broken.
Everything is within and click of a button. However, when when your career doesn’t go quite right, there is no button to click and we get confused.
I grew up just as Instagram was getting started so luckily I wasn’t in high school worrying about how many likes I got on my photos.
The kids of today aren’t so lucky.
Right now if you want some instant gratification, go on Instagram, post a selfie and you’ll get some attention and some people liking your photo. If you want a new book, new shoes, new phone, go on Amazon, find the thing you like, and buy it. It’ll probably come tomorrow.
The obsession with time saving has paved the way for ultimate convenience, the problem is that we expect that in every area of our lives.
It’s confusing to turn up to work, not love what you do to find that there is no app to make it better. And that’s because of our relationship with patience. There is no way to solve career dissatisfaction other than putting the work into understanding why you’re unhappy and what you can do about it.
Unfortunately for us there is no website, no application, no quick fix. Its takes time. Time, we feel we don’t have.
Careers are something that are built over a long period of time. They require work, dedication and attention. You can’t find instant gratification doing something you hate. This is a totally different game to the one you were playing in school.
How do we learn to love the journey and not fixate on the goal at hand?
Well, there a few things that have worked for me and I am someone that gets frustrated waiting for the kettle to boil. Although, I’m sure my kettle takes an inordinate amount of time to boil.
#1 Try focusing on small things
“You need to let the little things that would ordinarily bore you suddenly thrill you.” ― Andy Warhol
Understanding our relationship with patience isn’t difficult. Life is a series a small steps. The number of ‘over night successes’ that were ten years in the making is overwhelming. Despite what the media likes to tell us, success doesn’t happen over night.
The media will print it as if it did. The reality is that most success takes a good amount of hard flipping work.
The small things are the joy in life. Aim for the little wins. A new follower, a clearer mind, a new route for your morning walk. Focusing on the small things has helped me be more patient to get to the bigger things.
I’ve slowly realised that big things are made up by a series of smaller things and there is a lot of joy to be had in accomplishing the small things.
A list of small things:
Meeting a deadline
Cultivating a new habit
Feeling confident in a meeting
Not beating yourself up after a review
#2 Contextualise the outcomes
“Anyone who isn’t embarrassed by who they were last year probably isn’t learning enough.” Alain de Botton
Writing is the first thing I’ve come across where I don’t want to throw my toys out the pram if it’s not working. I’ve written every day for the last 6 weeks and most days my articles get no views. For clarity that’s most likely 100 hours worth of work. However, in context, I feel like I’m smashing it. To most people, getting a few views a day is nothing. Getting one new follower every few days is slow. Still, if I compare that the 6 weeks ago I am improving. 6 weeks ago I’d just joined the platform and didn’t really know what it was all about. I had no audience. I had no idea what worked and what didn’t.
Now, I’m not saying by any means I know what is going on now. Not even close, I haven’t even scratched the surface. Yet, in comparison to where I was, I’m on the moon.
Some perspective on numbers:
10,000 hours until you master something.
Probably 1,000 hours until anyone gives a sustainable amount of attention.
I’m imagining 5,000 hours until I start to really understand the makings of a half decent article.
And that’s fine because I’ve got bags of time to perfect it, more importantly, I’m loving the journey.
#3 Perspective of time – change your relationship with patience
“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.” ― A.A. Milne
Knowing that you have years and years ahead of you gives you the permission to do life on your own terms. As if you needed permission anyway. In the book Mortal by Atul Gwanade, there is the story of Felix and Bella. Felix was a retired geriatric doctor and Bella was formerly a dietician turned teacher. The book explores how we age and what is a good death. A dark and often avoided conversation. How do we enjoy our last years on this planet, who do we want to spend our time with and how do care givers facilitate that?
Felix worked with elderly people his whole life, so when it came to his formative years, he was well versed with what was happening. Dry skin, teeth falling out, feeling more fragile. Felix understood his risk of falling was perhaps his biggest hurdle to overcome. However, Felix lived well into his 90s. He drove well into his eighties and found joy in life until his last days. Even with the health conditions he had, suffering a heart attack in his 70s.
He lived into his 90s.
For me that’s 65 years away. A whole lifetime in itself. Regardless of your age, it’s reasonable to suggest we have an abundance of time. Not so much time we can waste it all but really life is only a waste if you deem it to be.
Understanding that we have so much time to figure out what we love, how to monetise our passion, how to find fulfilment and joy in our careers takes the weight off. It means that you can go travel if you want to travel. Do whatever you like.
Live life on your terms. You’ve got plenty of time to figure it out.
#4 Do something for the fun of it
“Enjoy today. It is one of the “good old days” you will miss in the future!” ― Etta Sawyerr
Not everything in life needs an agenda. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do many things in my life because I hope that I am building the foundations for something bigger. However, having everything in your life have an agenda can make us feel like life is way too serious. Life is to be enjoyed.
Doing something for the soul reason of enjoyment is perfect. It doesn’t matter that you can’t make a side business out of it or that your time would be better spent doing something else because you could make more money.
If something brings you joy — do it.
We have to make a living and it’s good to focus on that of course. But there is much joy to be had just pottering around the garden feeling wondering what you can do to make your herbs grow better.
Walking the dogs or walking with no dogs (I prefer with)
Doing this just because you want to and they bring you joy allows you to slow down a little and remember what’s important in life.
Learning to become more patient is one of the things that has brought some calmness to my life. Changing our relationship with patience can really help bring some stillness to life. At a time when you click through YouTube and within a half a second find someone living the life you dream of can feel demotivating. We want to be there now so we can enjoy it.
However, you can enjoy where you are right now, still striving to get where you want to be but not at the expense of enjoying today.