One of my biggest struggles is patience. I think the same holds true for any high-achieving man. We tend to want the results immediately. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way. That, however, does not mean we need to sit back and simply wait for our goals to come to fruition. Today, I share six strategies for exercising patience while assertively working towards our objectives.
Before I get to those strategies, it’s crucial that you understand that there is a huge difference between patience and passivity. Patience is allowing the work that you’re doing to manifest as the results that you’re after. Passivity, on the other hand, is letting everything go past you, not being assertive in what needs to done, and hoping, praying, and wishing that somehow things are miraculously going to turn out the way that you want.
With an understanding of the difference between patience and passivity, let’s break down these strategies:
You’ve got to start, as Stephen Covey says, “With the end in mind.” If you don’t have some worthy objective, how are you going to know what to do? You’re not. Even if you do take some action, without a goal, you don’t really know what you’re moving towards. There’s nothing to even measure your progress against.
The very first step in exercising patience is having a vision. Take time out of every day and focus on that vision. Get it crystal clear in your mind. You need to be so clear about what you want that you can feel and experience it. The more that you ponder about your long-term goal, the more likely it is that you will maintain the course in the achievement of it.
If you look out five years, that’s a really long time to commit to an endeavor. I don’t even know what I’m going to have for dinner tonight, let alone what I’m going to be doing over the next five years. One of the questions people ask me all the time is, “Where do you see Order of Man in five years?” Of course, I have a vision but I really don’t know how all of that will play out because there’s so much that’s going to be happen between now and then. Technology will evolve. The political climate will change.
This is why it’s imperative you break down your long-term goals into twelve-week objectives.
Maybe you want to lose 30 pounds, or run a marathon, or Spartan race. Maybe you want to start making $1,000 a month from a side business or a new venture. Maybe you want to secure a promotion or open the doors to your own shop. I don’t know what that looks like for you, but once you have the long-term vision, you need to start working backward into the shorter twelve-week objectives.
I typically have four twelve-week objectives. One of them is what I want to accomplish personally. I call this Calibration. Next, I consider my objectives for my relationships. I call this Connection. Next, I consider my physical health. I call this Condition. The last consideration is adding value through the work I do and my service in the community. I call this Contribution.
This component is critical. So many people out there focus solely on their goal without giving much consideration to how they are going to accomplish it. After you know what you want, you have to identify daily tactics that will inevitably produce the results you’re after.
You’ve spent the past 10, 20, 30, 40, maybe even 50 years engaged in certain patterns, beliefs, and activities. Those patterns have got you to exactly where you are today. The results you’re experiencing are not going to change overnight. Once you have your vision and twelve-week objectives, identify what you can do every single day that will yield your desired results.
Let me give you a couple of examples:
- If, for example, you want to take your family on vacation, your tactic could be to save $20, $30, $40, or $50 a day so that in 90 days, you have enough money to go on vacation.
- If you want to run a 5K in 90 days, your tactic could be that you run for 30 minutes every day.
Your tactics should be simple. These are things that you can literally check off a list and say “yes, I saved my $30 today,” or, “Yes, I ran for 3o minutes today.”
I would recommend one tactic per objective that you can focus on relentlessly.
If you don’t have some sort of benchmark or some sort of progress report for where you are, it’s very easy to become discouraged and throw in the towel. If you aren’t measuring along the way, you’ll never know how far you’ve come.
If you have a twelve-week objective of paying off $10,000 of debt, in 30 days you should have $3,000 paid off, and, in 60 days, you should have a little over $6,000 paid off. These types of checkpoints let you know that you’re on the right track. Through those small little victories, you give yourself enough emotional and mental fuel to be able to continue down the path.
See, most people never look back to see how far they’ve come. All they do is look forward and think about how much further they have to go. While, of course, there’s value in looking down the road and understanding what you need to do between now and then, it’s okay to look back if you’re using it as fuel to propel you forward. Achieving checkpoints is an emotional win that will allow you to continue moving forward when you get discouraged.
The other day, I picked up my son from football practice. As he came over to me, I asked him how practice was and if he had done his after-action review yet. He said, “I don’t know what that is.” I told him, “An after-action review is an opportunity to evaluate how practice went so that you can be better at the next practice.
Whether you’re evaluating practice, a conversation, a project at work, or any other engagement or performance, an after-action review will equip you with the information you need to improve moving forward. Simply put, an after-action review is a series of five questions.
- What did you accomplish?
- What did you not accomplish?
- What did you do well?
- What did not do so well?
- What are you going to do moving forward?
After-action reviews after every experience are crucial so that we can improve. When we do our after-action reviews, we can exercise patience because we know deep down inside that we’re doing the things that we need to do that will inevitably produce the results that we want.
MENTORS, COACHES, AND BATTLE BROTHERS
You have to have people in your life who are doing what you want to do. The reason this is so important is that, as you’re in the trenches, it’s going to become very easy to become discouraged if you’re not seeing the results as fast as you would like.
Also, it’s difficult to even know if you are moving the needle in the right direction because sometimes the progress is so small that you can’t even see it. Having an objective third party, who’s already walked the path that you’re on, can come back and say, “Have faith. Have a little discipline, Have a little dedication. Stay the course. You’re on the right path. It’s just going to take time.” If you don’t have that, and you’re not seeing the progress that you like, you’re going to give up too soon.
Have a mentor. Have a coach. Have a battle brother. Have somebody by your side who’s cheering you on, rallying for you, and willing to look back and say, “Keep going. You’re doing what needs to be done.” These types of people are invaluable in your life. They’re mentors, they’re coaches, they’re friends, they’re battle brothers, they’re people who care about you want to see you succeed.
Exercising patience towards some worthy objective is a challenge at times. Again, as high-achieving men, we tend to want the results now. That’s fine but we ought to be careful of setting ourselves up with a false sense of expectations of how quickly the results will manifest themselves.
Patience is a virtue and we must learn to exercise it. That said, we don’t want to be passive in life. We don’t want to wait for things and hope that things are just going to work out. We should be actively working towards those goals and understanding that, if we’re doing the right things, the results will inevitably come to fruition.