Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.-Harriet Tubman
I don’t know about you but most of the mistakes I’ve made in life are due to a lack of patience. Maybe its because we live in a “gotta have it now” society. You can zap fry a pop-tart in the microwave in 5 seconds.
You can get a credit card and buy that thing you just gotta have, so that can sit on a pile of other stuff you “just gotta have” and never use.
We have become a “gotta-have-it-now” society. Everything is geared toward convenience and speed. We have become “consumers” of all the wares out there that are designed to make us “happy”.
The problem with this type of thinking is it puts you on a hamster wheel of never-ending-running for the cheese and never getting there.
More specifically, a lack of patience is based on a mind set that only looks at the short term.
If you are always walking around looking only far enough ahead to see to the end of your nose, you will be running into lots of walls.
In order to learn patience you must see the big picture. You must must have a vision of how what you are doing right now leads to that greater thing.
If you only think about the here and now your every effort will be focused on your immediate comfort. And like most things “immediate” it will be temporary and short lived.
In order to delay immediate gratification you need a bigger “why”, and a grander vision for what you will get on the other end.
I’ve got a few examples here of where not having patience lead to longer term problems:
- Eating fast food. For years I didn’t want to take the time to prepare a proper lunch (too impatient). So I would just head through the nearest drive through at McDonalds, Wendy’s, Taco Time (my favorites) and load up on junk. It tasted fantastic. It was quick and easy, and it tasted so good in the moment. But later that afternoon I was comatose as all that sugar in the buns and drink spiked my blood-sugar into space. And then I came crashing down. It usually destroyed my afternoons as my head was in a fog. And I gained the added benefit of packing on over 20 pounds of visceral fat to my abdomen. Short term it felt great, long term it was a killer.
- Getting speeding tickets. I just HAD to get there quicker. I once got 3 speeding tickets in as many months. And if I hadn’t plead “stupid” in court and received the judge’s mercy I would have lost my license. I had gotten an in-attentive driving ticket for speeding 98 MPH in a 55 MPH zone. I had the pleasure of going to court and sitting on a bench between two guys in orange jump-suites and leg irons. That gave me a reality check. When my time to stand before the judge came, I was filled with dread and a sense of my own stupidity. So when the judge asked “how do you plead?” I said, “Your Honor, I plead stupid!”. He cracked a smile and knocked my ticket down and erased the mistomeaner from my record. I made a commitment right then that my speeding days were over. That was over 26 years ago now and I’ve never had a ticket since. 🙂
- I worked in an in-patient center for a number of years on the “chemical addiction” wing. I spoke to hundreds of addicts and as I listened to their stories they always had the same theme. “I’m in pain now and I want relief now”. So they would huff meth, sniff gasoline, stick their arm with needles so that they could experience immediate relief. Problem is, the relief is only temporary. A desire to get immediate relief in the short term led to a life of misery and pain in the long term.
Being able to see the big picture has helped me be much more patient. Having a clear picture of what really matters most in the long term helps you to delay gratification and do the right thing now.
Take a few minutes today to think about what you are compromising now in the short term that is damaging your life for the long term.
Then think about where you want to be and what you want to achieve in the next year. Then think longer term, say 5 years, then 10.
You don’t need to make this complicated. Just envision a future “you” and your surroundings in that future state. Then make the changes today that will lead you to that greater vision.
Just like Harriet Tubman quoted at the beginning of this post: “…have a dream..and reach for the stars”. You DO have the strenghth and patience to accomplish your dreams. But you must first create that dream and vision, and then look at that vision daily.
If you keep that “picture” always in mind and ahead of you, it will guide your steps today. You will be able to step over the short term distractions as you tread to that greater vision.
Make it a blessed day!