Why Wait? My Struggle to Be More Patient

As the season of Advent begins, I am reminded that this is a season of waiting. As Christians, we await the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Children anxiously wait for Santa Claus and presents under the Christmas tree. Anticipation can be exciting, but it is hard.

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I am not good at waiting. I was brought up by parents who didn’t like to wait – my father was “that guy” in traffic who drove in the shoulder past lines of waiting cars. I am a “Type A” person who likes to get things done in a hurry and cross them off my list. When I was expecting my children, I didn’t hesitate to find out their sex because it was too hard for me to wait!

This translates into my life as an entrepreneur, where my lack of patience has helped me forge ahead, but can also cause problems when I respond too quickly to an email, purchase something without thoroughly researching its usefulness, or rush through a job to get it done by a deadline.

I recently wrote about using new projects as an opportunity to expand my skills. This has served me well, but it also means that many times I don’t thoroughly learn something, because I learn what I need to for the moment, not what I need to know to master that skill. In an ideal world, I would go back to school and learn everything I need to have “complete” knowledge of the many things I want to master. In this day of constant information, there simply isn’t time to read all the things we want to read and learn all the things we want to learn! Not to mention all the distractions that can take us away from the task at hand.

One of the struggles with waiting is that it can conflict with the YOLO mentality (You Only Live Once). We all know people whose lives were cut short or changed permanently without notice. When I think about life this way, I consider that it is better to jump in and start doing something, rather than wait for the ideal time or conditions. I have found myself using the phrase “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good” a lot lately. If I were to have only a short time left to live, what would I do with that time? Would I be beating myself up that I still haven’t learned Javascript? Would I wait until my inbox was empty to take a vacation with my family? I think I would be glad for every opportunity I took on, even if I rushed into it and didn’t have time to finish it.

And yet, YOLO included, life goes on and goes forward. There needs to be a balance between patience and seizing opportunities. While I remind myself to take my time, I also listen to that impatient part of me that wants to learn 5 new skills this month, update my own website, expand my joint venture and implement new business practices … knowing that I may not even finish one of these things. Patience means not only being patient in waiting for something to happen, but also being patient with myself, allowing time to work on client projects and committing to time to develop my businesses as well as my skill set. Patience includes realizing that it takes time to learn to code, and that many people I look up to have been doing this for a long time. I think patience is easier to implement if you have a plan and commit to accomplishing things in a realistic timeframe. But I struggle with putting that concept into practice!

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As 2016 approaches its end, and New Year’s Resolutions are on my mind, I am thinking that my goal for 2017 is going to include being more patient with myself and with others. I know I will never enjoy the process of waiting, but I think I can work on a new attitude about time. What are you waiting for?

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