The 8-Point Plan to Increase Patience When the Going Gets Tough

by Brad Isaac on March 22, 2006


My family was getting ready to take my mother to a birthday brunch Sunday when about 1/2 hour before we left, my kids started complaining that they were hungry.  We were all hungry at that time but I told them they’d just enjoy their breakfast-lunch combo even more if they could make it.  Well, you parents out there probably know, they were having none of that. As if they were unable to visualize a small feast, they would forego that for a bowl of Fruit Loops in a second.

Yet, isn’t it true for our goal achievement?  We want it and want it now.  We can easily become discouraged when we can’t quite see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

Here are 8 ways you can increase your patience when you are becoming discouraged.

1.  Do something else.  A surfer can curse the ocean because there is no waves or he can "take a vacation" and go to a movie, read a book, learn to whittle until the waves return.

2.  Work on parts of your goal you can do.  Usually there are a ton of  tiny tasks we never get to because we don’t have time.  Now you have the time, so take care of them. 

3.  Be still - sometimes impatience is something else working on you.  You might have had too much coffee, you might have a headache.  Be still and find out what else it could be that’s stressing you.

4.  Rewrite your goals - start from the beginning.  write down your goal, write down everything about it, especially concentrate on stressing the benefits of achieving it.  Make sure you are absolutely clear on what you are trying to do.  Your impatience could be coming from confusion or lack of clarity.  Now is the time to clarify.  Be clear and honest with yourself.

5.  Do deep goal visualization -  If you’ve got your goal re-clarified, then be still (again) and do some visualization of it coming into being.   Do a relaxation CD if you have one.  Achieve-IT! users can use the built in sounds – put on some headphones and visualize.  Re-read all of your goals and form pictures in your mind of them becoming reality.

6.  Quit…may sound strange..but do a quick exercise where you list out all the pros and cons of quitting.  Odds are the "cons" side will be much longer than the pros side and will make you face reality.  Quitting for the day gives you some distance and perspective that things really aren’t that bad.

7.  Be easy on yourself – every now and again someone will call with a problem.  They will be impatient and call themselves stupid or moronic on the phone.  One of the requirements of speaking to me is to refer to yourself with the same respect and dignity you’d treat someone else.  Putting yourself down and calling yourself names accomplishes nothing and actually causes further delays.  So if you are using that type of negative self-talk with yourself, resolve that you will never do it again. 

8.  Pigeonhole your problem – what is really getting in the way?  Is it lack of research?  Lack of funds?  Time?  If it’s just patience, apply these techniques to deal with it. 

If you have a "stretch goal", something that hasn’t been done before, or you are working outside your comfort zone, you WILL have disappointments and setbacks.  If you’ve never been a PhD, then becoming a PhD for the first time will require you to do things you’ve never done before.  You and I aren’t perfect.  We’ll have setbacks, hard lessons to learn and disappointments along the way. 

The setbacks aren’t fun while you are having them.   But once you make it to the other side and time perspective has set in, you start to appreciate those setbacks.  You might even brag about them!   I’ve said it before, nobody wants to hear a story where you achieved a goal with no effort.   Can you picture people sitting and listening with absolute focus to hear about about how you used your millionaire uncle’s money to buy a new 5000 square ft. house?   Probably not.

These times of drama are just as important as the smooth times.  It’s best you have a few setbacks along the way and apply patience to them so you can deal with setbacks later on.  Patience during the setbacks makes you more skilled, stronger and better equipped to handle bigger setbacks in the future. 

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