Last week I blogged about my goals for 2017 – 15 things I essentially needed to do (or not do, in the case of watching TV) this year to upskill, up my personal development and help progress my #40by40 quest. There were a couple of things I didn’t include on the list, such as investigate mindfulness and practice patience.
I am, by far, one of the most impatient people ever – maybe it goes back to the fact that when I was born I was two weeks overdue and then my poor mother spent around 48 hours in labour, so perhaps I feel I’ve got some catching up to do!
I asked my boyfriend (please note, this is the man who is always late) what I am most impatient about. Without so much as a flinch, he said: “Everything.”
Well, thanks for that!
I think where my impatience is most chronic is in regards to the concept of wanting results now. I think back to when I played the piano as a child. I hated practicing the scales and the repetition of trying to get the pieces right – I just wanted to be able to play the piece of music RIGHT NOW! In many ways, my impatience was the reason I gave up the piano.
It worries me that my impatience could be my undoing. I’m acutely aware with my quest to climb 40 volcanoes by the age of 40 that part of me is champing at the bit to tick them all off ASAP and it does somewhat bug me that I have to do some planning, and some fitness, and save some money etc.
And herein lies the revelation – it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey getting there. And that is why patience is important.
It also points to the fact that life is a learning process, a conglomeration of little steps and experiences; not an abracadabra instant gratification (as 21st century advertisements would have you believe). You have to start somewhere – you don’t just magically end up at the top of a volcano or playing some magnificent Mozart masterpiece to an audience of hundreds at the Royal Albert Hall; you have to start the volcano-climbing process or piano playing somewhere, which progresses, as a journey, to that point where you’re on the top of a volcano or on a stage.
I think to some degree it’s an art form being able to focus on the incremental progress towards a bigger goal, enjoying the moment for what it is and not wanting or needing to rush it.
Of course, time is not infinite and life is short – in this sense there is a great desire to have bucket lists and tick boxes and I, for one, get very angry about wasted time (can the kettle please boil faster!). But at the same time, it’s important to step back a bit and take a breather. As long as things are in place, preparations have been made, and you believe in yourself in achieving your goal, there is definitely room for patience, which, in turn, lends itself to mindfulness and, if you go with what the experts say, greater wellbeing.
One thing I have learnt from living in London, is there isn’t any point getting angry when standing in a queue. It’s not going to make the queue move faster. Likewise, getting impatient about climbing volcanoes isn’t going to make me climb them faster or climb more of them. Only doing the prep work, and being patient with it, will lead me to where I want to be.
For several years now, I have tried to practice patience in queuing situations or when waiting for delayed trains or in monster traffic jams – indeed it can even be quite interesting watching the world around you and other people as you wait.
But I now also want to apply this to my broader life and progress towards my goals. I figure that if I can be less impatient, I will, perhaps, enjoy the process more, become more mindful, more grateful for what I have and, ultimately, feel the experience – the journey – for what it is.