Learning to be Patient

People have no patience, y’know. Young people graduating from school think they should be able to get The Job right off the bat. People buying a home for the first time want a place that’s bigger and shinier than the home they grew up in. And as for luxury vehicles… how can anyone just starting out think they deserve to drive a car that sets them back $500 a month or more?

In our culture of immediacy we are urged to download INSTANTLY and get what we want ON DEMAND. We drive-thru to get our food fast. We substitute movies for books so we can get to the end of the story in two hours or less. If we get to a web page that takes more than 20 seconds to load we move on. And if we have to wait in a line, we tap our foot and huff and puff because things are just taking too long.

I caught myself complaining about the traffic in Brighton a few days ago. It took me about two minutes to make a turn because of “all the cars” going by. This is in Brighton. OMG!  Now, I don’t usually get into a flap over traffic. And when I drive in Toronto I make a conscious effort to stay chill. I think it was because I was home in my small town where I didn’t expect traffic that it had an impact on me. But, let’s be real, what’s two minutes in a life? Time enough to admire the neighbours’ lilac bushes in full bloom. But not so much time that you have to get yourself into a lather about all the time it’s taking.

Our tendency to be impatient and our skewed sense of what constitutes a “reasonable” amount of time spills into how we manage our money. We want stuff and we want it NOW. The very idea of accumulating some cash to buy a thing is foreign to us. Why wait when we have a perfectly good credit card with some room available to satisfy our Immediacy Itch.

Sometimes it means we give up too soon because everything doesn’t fall into place tickety-boo the first time we try. Like living on a budget. There are folks who throw up their arms because the numbers aren’t working from the get go.

And then there are the people who leap into investments they know nothing about, or don’t have the risk tolerance for, simply because they don’t have the patience to watch their money grow slowly.

Most worthwhile activities take time. With some time, budgets can be finessed. With some time, investment portfolios can smooth themselves out.  And with some time, you can accumulate the money you need for that family vacation and come home without worrying about a credit hang-over.

The next time you hear yourself saying (out loud or in your head), “that’ll take too long” stop and take a breath. How long is too long? And what are you losing by not waiting?

Waiting for things to go on sale means you can anticipate getting a bargain. Waiting to be sure that the thing you think you want, you know you want means you’re sure you’re using your money wisely. Waiting for the next part of your life to start unfolding as opposed to rushing to the next whatever means you can enjoy where you are, not just where you’re going.

One of the key differences between people who can’t wait and those who can may be the sense of deprivation some people feel when they can’t scratch their itch immediately. Those who can wait embrace anticipation… they enjoy the not-quite-there-yet feeling, imagining the potential pleasure they’ll derive and looking forward to bringing their wish to fruition.

Patience is an important lesson to learn. It can be hard sometimes. But waiting gives us the time to evaluate whatever it is we want against all the other wants that will crop up in the meantime, so it makes us better at prioritizing. And if we learn to enjoy the pleasure of waiting, we can revel in our anticipation right up until we scratch the itch.

 

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Gail Vaz-Oxlade

Gail Vaz-Oxlade wants YOU! Join MyMoneyMyChoices.com to get smarter about your money and help others get smarter about theirs. Isn’t it time we eliminated financial illiteracy? Come find me on Google+ and on Twitter.

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4 Responses to “Learning to be Patient”

  1. Thank you so much for the back down to earth reality check! I am so guilty of being so impatient, always rushing to the next thing and wanting resolution a that moment. Love reading your blog so much, motivates me everyday.

  2. This message is a great reminder of how much patience I DON’T have. It’s a running joke in my family that when my mom was pregnant with me she took all my patience and I took all her memory. I purposely moved outside of the city limits to enjoy the “slowed down” lifestyle of country living but find my road rage worse when driving in the city. I think it’s time to reevaluate my life. Thanks for the thought provoking blog post today Gail, have a great weekend!

  3. avatar Sassy Mamaw Says:
    March 11, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    I really needed this message today, Gail! I have been in a funk lately, because my debt isn’t going down as quickly as I would like.

    We have some other major items we are currently cash-flowing, and it’s slowed things down a bit. I was just thinking today, “What do I do, quit trying?” It’s a bit like stopping a diet because you are losing weight too slowly.

    You know what they say, “Slow and steady wins the race.”

  4. avatar Richard Mathis Says:
    December 28, 2016 at 4:35 am

    Great article. It’s so important to be patient. I learned this from personal experience. I have long tried to find a suitable job. It didn’t work out, but I kept trying and I get the desired job. It is important to be patient and persistent. But if you want to find a job it’s also important to have a great resume (you can always get help https://resumegreatness.com/ ) and to be a professional.

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