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Patience is something that has never come easily to me. When I want something, I want it now! Or at least, pretty quickly. And yet, when we’re trying to achieve our dreams and goals, the one thing we need to have is patience because in most cases, it’s going to take some time and effort to achieve those goals. It’s a journey we have to make and there are simply no shortcuts! There’s going to twists and turns in the road, we’re going to go off track sometimes, we might hit a dead end and have to backtrack or we might be completely rerouted.

It’s funny how we can learn life lessons from our every day experiences, if we look for them. The other day I was putting together a pretty basic footstool from IKEA which comes flat packed to be assembled (as most things from IKEA do!). “This’ll take ten minutes.” I thought. Ha! And I’m usually pretty good at putting things together. Well, I struggled more than I expected with this darn stool! After screwing in a few screws, I realised one of the sides of the footstool was actually facing the wrong way which meant I couldn’t progress with the next piece because nothing was aligned. Arggh! So I had to unscrew all the screws on that side and basically do some major backtracking to make sure the side of the footstool was facing the right way and then retrace my steps again with the screws. I paid more attention to the instructions now instead of assuming a footstool is really easy to assemble and I can probably do it without instructions! I succeeded in the end 😊… and also learned some priceless lessons in the process.

Be in it for the long game

Firstly, I learned not to underestimate how long it would take to achieve a goal and I tend to have a bad habit of doing this and then end up getting frustrated when things don’t happen quickly enough! Underestimating how long a goal will take to achieve is just setting yourself up for failure from the word go, not to mention frustration. You’ve got to be in it for the long game, whatever it is you’re trying to achieve. If it’s worth achieving then it’s worth doing properly, even if it does take a bit longer than planned!

Things rarely go as planned

Secondly, as with our own personal journeys to getting to where we want to be, there will always be obstacles and challenges to overcome, there will always be some mistakes made and some backtracking to be done. Just as assembling my IKEA footstool took longer than planned and turned out to be a little more complicated than I expected, we also need to cut ourselves some slack when things don’t go as we meticulously planned. Ask any successful person about their journey to getting where they are and they’ll tell you they hit many unexpected roadblocks along the way!

There’s a season for sowing and a season for reaping

Whenever I feel impatience rising within me, I remember wise words by Jim Rohn:

“There’s a season for sowing and a season for reaping, but you can’t do both in the same season.”

After diligently ‘sowing your seeds’ by putting in a lot of effort towards your goals, its all too easy to then expect your harvest straight away. “I’ve been working so hard! Where’s the fruit of my labour?” But what we’re expecting is to sow and harvest in the same season. We forget that as with al nature, there are seasons. We can’t sow AND reap straight away in spring. Neither does autumn/fall follow spring, there’s another season, summer, in between. A season of patiently nurturing those seeds you planted and watching them grow and flourish. What ends up happening is, you plant your seeds, see nothing happening and then give up in despair and go sow more seeds elsewhere. Shiny Object Syndrome, anyone?! Then you end up sowing all these seeds in all these different places and without you being there, patiently nurturing those seeds to help them flourish, those seeds wither away and die. Meanwhile, you’ve worked yourself to the bone planting seeds all over the place and getting absolutely no harvest!

This is where patience comes in.

When you physically plant a seed, you don’t see any activity for some time. But something is happening. That seed is germinating and getting ready to start growing. You just can’t see it. But if you stick with it patiently, you’ll soon see signs of growth – a little stalk peeping above the soil, then a leaf, then two. It’s no different when we work on our dreams and goals. We put in lots of work, and then instead of getting discouraged, we stay the course. We keep going. We nurture what we planted. We start building momentum. And as momentum builds, we start seeing results, maybe teeny tiny results to begin with but again – you don’t see an enormous oak tree spring from the soil, do you?! No, it starts off as a tiny little seedling and then keeps growing over time.

The strange thing is, we know this is true when it comes to assembling IKEA furniture and growing plants in our gardens and yet we expect this not to apply to us! When things don’t happen overnight, we get discouraged and feel like giving up. When one tiny stalk begins to show its head, we think “is that all, after all that effort I put in!?” and we abandon the little stalk that was about to start growing into an eventual oak tree.

Look at the bigger picture

Looking at the bigger picture allows you to step back and see not just where you are at that moment in time in isolation, but where you are along your entire journey towards achieving your goals. Whenever I do this, I realise I am actually a lot further along in my overall journey than I think. It hasn’t been wasted effort, things are happening (just like the seed germinating underground), sometimes you just don’t see it. Just keep going and know that every little step you take is taking you another step closer to your goals.

Pause and reflect

Spending time on meditation and reflection is a great way to pause and reflect on things and master the art of being patient. This allows you to tune into your bigger vision and see yourself taking each little step towards accomplishing that vision. It also helps you to realise and accept that things might not always go the way you expect them to or the way you planned but that’s ok, it’s all part of your journey. Journalling is another great way to regularly reflect on your journey and explore any feelings of impatience. If you haven’t already come across my Born to Flourish planner-journal which is personal growth focused and full of prompts to help you set intentions and reflect on and review your progress, you can find out more about it here.

Here’s a great quote by Benjamin Franklin, I’ll leave you with:

“He that can have patience can have what he will.”

Have patience friend, and you can make anything happen!