Being Patient with Impatience

Two Saturdays ago, I had one of my marathon journaling sessions where I seemed to be taking dictation from the universe, and I made a long list of things I want to do to move forward with my coaching practice, my writing, and my life in general. All the things on this list felt exciting, organic, juicy. Enthusiasm flooded through me. Clarity! Momentum! I couldn’t wait to get started. I was sure that in, say, a week, all these things would be effortlessly accomplished and I’d be “on my way” — whatever it is that means.

Fast-forward nine days, to this past Monday evening. I’d spent the most of the day, and the night before, in frustration, confused, vaguely panicked, complaining to my boyfriend that I just couldn’t get anything done and I didn’t know why. This shouldn’t be so hard, I kept hearing myself say. I’m so behind schedule, I kept hearing myself say. Somehow my exuberance, enthusiasm and excitement had become — what? I couldn’t pinpoint it at first, and then I realized what it was: Impatience. Of the extreme variety.

There’s a line from the movie “Postcards from the Edge” — I’m paraphrasing here, but it goes something like this: “In the movies, you have a big realization and your life changes. In life, you have a big realization and six months later your life changes.”

Sigh. Yes, it’s true — things generally do not happen as quickly as I think I would like them to happen. And often, I get clear on a vision of what I want, and then realize — thud! — that there’s a lot of letting go and restructuring that has to happen before that vision can actually become reality. And sometimes, in the process of moving toward that vision, I change, or I understand myself better, and I realize that what I thought I wanted is no longer what I do want.

Sometimes it really will be six months before the change I want is ready to be born. Sometimes it will be a year. Sometimes (as in this case — I think!), it just means I have to do what I want to do over the course of a month instead of a week.

What’s clear is that that graspy, impatient, want-it-yesterday voice inside me is not the voice of my inner wisdom — though it certainly seems like the truth when I’m in the grip of it. But I can tell it is not the truth by the behavior and results it creates — haste, confusion, spinning in circles, accidentally deleting almost-finished blog posts, stubbing my toe on the chair leg.

Impatience is one of the most common themes with my coaching clients. And I’m right there with them. We want to hurry the process so we can get to the reward, forgetting that the only tangible reward is right here, in the process.

The voice of impatience ruins the process.

I picked up SARK’s wonderful book “Make Your Creative Dreams Real” last night for a little bit of guidance. I knew I needed to get grounded. Can you believe the book actually opened to a section titled “Impatience”? I didn’t even remember ever reading this section of the book before, but there it was.

She writes: “Being patient with our creative dreams, our lives, and ourselves can only shelter and nourish us. I am learning ways to be patient with myself and my creative dreams.”

Most of us are pretty familiar with impatience. Our culture teaches us impatience and instant gratification. Be counter-culture. Nurture patience in yourself, even though it may feel unnatural and unfamiliar.

There’s an upside to impatience, too, though. It means you’re opening up to bigger stuff. It means you’re getting ready for newness. Sometimes, it means you’re no longer willing for things to be as they have been because you’ve outgrown them.

And that is all good! But if it’s not moving as quickly as you’d like it to, see if you can hold that impatience in patience’s wider lens. See if you can take a more expansive view — what Martha Beck calls “eagle vision” — and allow yourself to feel that deep knowing that you are exactly where you are supposed to be right now, doing exactly what you are supposed to do in this moment.

Image is AUTUMN STAIRCASE © Lbwhaples |

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