Balancing Ambition and Patience
Have you ever thought about how most of our lives seem to be focused on waiting? When we’re pre-teens, we can’t wait to get braces for that perfect smile. When we’re high school, we can’t wait to begin college to live on our own. When we enter the workforce, we can’t wait for the right project, promotion or raise. When we’re building small businesses, we can’t wait for the first hire, capital raise or financial exit.
Waiting for whatever is “supposed” to come next seems to be a major focus. We live in a noisy world with constant distractions and the actions we take, in waiting, seem to disengage and burn us out quickly. Society has a way of making us think that constant activity is success. However, if the constant activity is unrelated to our life’s mission, our passions get pushed down and we often settle for mediocrity.
When I speak with action-oriented people, many don’t know why they’re waiting for that next thing in life. They can’t tell me how the sleepless nights, meaningless meetings and high levels of stress connect to their live’s missions. I encourage each to be patient and continue taking small, disciplined action daily towards their goal. Just because the goal wasn’t achieved today, doesn’t mean that the universe isn’t organizing itself to give them achievement tomorrow.
How can you create a life that balances being ambitious, planting a seed, and being patient, harvesting fruit?
Ambition has a way of blinding us to the purpose of the opportunities and challenges we confront. You’d be well served to eliminate unwanted distractions or tasks not connected to your mission. Before you begin your week, block time on your calendar for planting seeds: exercise, business development meetings or experientially learning a new skill. Also, block time for harvesting: meditation, current project/client work or family/friend relationship building. If you remember that direction is more important than speed, you’re better able to evaluate your successes and the connectivity of your career to your mission.
When you reflect, daily, weekly and/or monthly, assess yourself on what you’re doing to marry (like the center of a venn diagram) your communication style, motivators, personal values, career capital, education, learning and appreciation styles. Your goal is to continually bring these items in alignment with your life’s mission. I encourage you to have a mentor or accountability partner vulnerably dialogue with you about each of these topics and what adjustments you need to make.
Create New Habits
To ensure you’re managing time and reflecting well, work with your mentor to identify your fears and how you respond when confronted with an activity that evokes that fear. Instead of defaulting to old habits, you want to create more positive habits that help you build new rituals and confidently stick to a consistent routine. To stay focused, measure your results. This isn’t easy, but remember the results are not a judgment of who you are… they’re simply feedback on where you are. Concentrate on completing the small steps of your new routine and you’ll quickly fall in love with the new daily habit because of the wins you’ll be recording and the confidence you’ll feel.
The most effective effort is continuing effort. You’ll likely cross a tipping point where the pain of not doing what you love becomes greater than the pain of confronting your fears. You’ll feel that it’s easier to bear the inconvenience of an unwanted action than the pain of remaining the same.
Be ambitious and plant seeds. It’s tough to regret hard work towards something worth doing. Be patient and let the mature trees grow so you can harvest fruit. You need equal balance. Avoid burning out, becoming disengaged or waiting for whatever is “supposed” to come next.
Create what is next. It’s not too late to become all you are meant to be.