Maybe you’re waiting for your dream employer to call you back about the position you applied for 10 days ago. Perhaps you’re waiting for your boss to reply to the email you sent last Monday about having a long-overdue salary conversation. Or maybe you’re four months into running your side gig, wondering if it’s ever going to bring in that extra income you thought it was going to when you started it.
That’s when everyone starts dropping the P-word: patience.
And that’s when you think your head might explode.
Because, in theory, sure—maybe you’d benefit from being a little more patient. (Wouldn’t everyone?) But how can you be patient when you really, really want something right now?
First, here’s what’s not going to make you more patient: checking your email obsessively, calling anyone who will listen to all the infuriating details, stalking your boss, future employer, or potential clients until someone gives you an answer, or finishing that bag of cheese doodles.
What will? Changing your mindset. Here are three ways to think about patience differently, inspired by a few guys who know what they’re talking about.
“Have Patience With All Things. But First of All, With Yourself.” - Saint Francis de Sales
One of the worst things about being impatient is how irritating we become to ourselves. Weren’t we normally functioning human beings just a week ago? Now we’re pacing, stress-eating, refreshing our emails in the middle of the night, and generally annoying everyone around us.
You may not like this person you turn into, but have a little compassion for yourself. At the root of patience is frustration, and at the root of frustration is a range of emotions, like fear, lack of control, and self-consciousness.
It’s enough to hate the situation; don’t hate yourself on top of it. Instead, do whatever soothes you. Watch movies, bake, or take long walks. And remind yourself that whatever the outcome—good or bad—you’ll find a way to move forward (because you always do).
“Why Is Patience So Important? Because it Makes Us Pay Attention.” - Paulo Coelho
We get so caught up in moving from point A to point B—as quickly as possible—we almost never give ourselves the opportunity to take stock of the situation as a whole. Instead of getting consumed by frustration while you wait, use your waiting time as an opportunity to pay attention to your life.
Take a good look around at your family, career, marriage, friendships, or side passion projects. How’s that all going? What areas feel awesome? What areas need some TLC?
Then pay attention to how you’re feeling about whatever it is you’re waiting for (beyond the frustration of waiting). What will the new job, higher salary, or successful side project bring you? Why is that important right now? How does it affect the rest of your life? What will happen if it doesn’t transpire the way you hope it will?
Who knows? All that paying attention may end up changing how you feel about the outcome of whatever it is you’re waiting for.
“All Things Are Difficult Before They Become Easy.” - Saadi
Waiting for something you really, really want right now is difficult. Uncertainty is difficult. Trying to not be totally consumed by that uncertainty is difficult.
Patience is difficult.
But it won’t be that way forever. At some point (probably sooner than you think), you will get some sort of resolution. And even if you don’t get the thing you wanted, what you anticipated being difficult—like going back to work after your boss denied your salary request—will actually feel easier than the waiting did.
So patience, grasshopper. Not because everyone wants you to shut up and chill out (although, to be honest, they might)—but because there are valuable lessons to be learned while you wait.