Learning to be Patient
Posted by Gail | Filed under Life Lessons
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.