Practising Patience

I’m a strong believer that hard work pays off but deep inside I always wish it paid off faster.

My relationship with patience is rather complicated. For the most part, I want to believe, I am very patient. I don’t lose my temper easily when I have to wait in the line or deal with an ignorant person. But I’m terrible when it comes to working on something.

I usually have this idea how a certain project should turn out and if on my way I see it’s not gonna happen I lose it completely. I lose my interest, willingness to keep trying and, most importantly, confidence.

As I’ll be speaking about patience, I thought it’s a good idea to look up the definition of it. Here’s what Cambridge English Dictionary says:

Patience [noun] – the ability to wait, or to continue doing something despite difficulties, or to suffer without complaining or becoming annoyed.

This time I want to concentrate on the “to continue doing something despite difficulties” part.

Story time. A few months ago I started practicing watercolor painting. As you can guess, I expected to be quite an artist by now. But of course, that’s not the case.  It takes months and years to acquire a new skill. Not to mention being confident about it.

When my patience wears thin, things go something like this. First, I get frustrated and angry about my inability to achieve the desired result right that moment. And then it starts slowly growing into a self-doubt.

Every time I feel impatient I try to remember how I’ve learned English. I took my first English language class in the second year of primary school. That’s more than 16 years ago. Even though I have always enjoyed learning it, there were ups and downs along the way. Today, I’m using this language to communicate with my significant other. It’s also a language which I use at work, and writing for this blog. If not English language, if not those 16 years of learning, practicing and using it, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Amazing, when you think about it, hm?

Looking back at this teaches me a valuable lesson. Nothing comes easy or fast but as long as you keep going, you’ll get there. I know, so cheesy.

Coming back to the subject, I think it’s important to recognize and accept the moment when you are becoming impatient. Only then you will be able to start changing your attitude towards yourself and what you are doing. If you feel like dropping whatever you’re doing for good, it’s not because you’re bad or not capable of doing it, it’s because at this very moment you’re being impatient.

Practicing patience was one of the habits I wanted to stick to this year. I can’t say I’ve successfully managed to do it, but I’ve definitely found a way how to deal with my own impatience. Here it goes.

I set realistic goals. It’s fair to say that my patience wears thin because sometimes I set unrealistic goals. In my belief, goals should be challenging but they should also be achievable. Before I set a goal, I try to take in consideration how much time acquiring this particular skill will be needed, and how much time in a day I can find to actually practice.

I try not to compare myself to others. This is really important when it comes to goals that take a lot of time and energy to achieve. Comparison and fear of underachieving can bring me down and shift my focus to a wrong direction. Just because somoene else is doing better than me, doesn’t mean I can’t achieve that.

I take a break. People can become impatient due to physical discomfort. For example, I’ve noticed I become more impatient when I’m hungry, dehydrated, or simply tired. Once I start realizing I’m losing my patience, I make myself a nice meal or a hot drink. Other times I feel like disconnecting from the task itself by watching TV series, reading a book or going for a walk. Taking a break is crucial as it helps to keep sane and bring back the balance.

I think I’m getting better at understanding and accepting the fact that certain things don’t come in a blink of an eye. And when in the moment of weakness (impatience?) I manage to communicate this message to myself I feel liberated and more motivated to keep going.

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