The Waiting is the Hardest Part: How to Be Patient on Your Journey Toward Significance

If you’re in the midst of a career transition or a large project, the advice to “enjoy the journey” or “be patient” is just plain irritating, right? For success-minded individuals, living in the moment can feel nearly impossible.

Yet it’s monumentally important.

As American philosopher Dallas Willard so eloquently said, “We must ruthlessly eradicate hurry from our lives.” This brilliant reminder strikes me every time I hear it. We have been born into a society that celebrates accomplishment, being busy, and wealth production, yet these are not the true purposes of human life. Our lives are about the experience of giving and receiving love, living in the moment, and serving as a light for others.

Consequently, when we get super busy or out of alignment with our purpose and values, our bodies let us know. Perhaps you’re feeling this kind of disconnect right now. You’re constantly tired, you’re eating foods that aren’t good for you, you might even be sick. If you’re not operating from a place of strength, failing to live your life’s mission every single day, or constantly doing things to make someone else happy, it may be time to readjust your priorities and slow down. 

Yes, maybe even find a way to “enjoy the journey.” Stay with me.

Back to the Basics

The fastest way for any human being to get back to a place of balance is to be in nature. Go for a hike, a walk, ride a bike outside the city, rock climb, whatever it is you like to do that is out of doors. It will be the one action that grounds you the fastest. 

In traditional corporate settings, we don’t spend enough time breathing fresh air or letting our bare feet hit the grass. Often for myself and for my clients, if we’re feeling off, we need to find a way to disconnect temporarily. Get out to nature and ask yourself, if this thing I’m worried about is not going to matter in five years, why am I spending more than five minutes on it right now?

When to Act, When to Wait 

Perhaps you need to decide if now is the time to take a particular action in your career, personal life, or business. For those I serve, asking three key questions can cut through the noise and make the decision easier:

  1. Does this potential action align with my life’s mission? If it does, then it is worthy of consideration. If it’s not in alignment, it’s a no. 
  1. How would I feel if this action was reported on the front page of the newspaper? Am I operating in accordance with my values and in accordance with something that society would accept? How is the world around me going to perceive this action?
  1. Does the action allow me to use my strengths—or learn something? According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, we get into a state of flow when we are doing the things that are in alignment with our life’s purpose and allow us to use our strengths. 

When you are struggling to make a decision, it can also be helpful to think about the patterns of information coming to you—dream content, your feelings, an article you happened to read, a social media post. All of this information is being filtered by you. If all the patterns are pointing in one direction, it’s okay to follow those signs and take small calculated risks. Trust your gut after you’ve taken the time to reflect.

If you are still feeling stuck, try doing one new thing each week that you haven’t done before: 

  • Experience a new restaurant
  • Hike a different trail
  • Drive an alternative route to work

One new thing each week is very powerful because it trains the brain to think differently and see new options. Little things matter.

Persistently Patient

When we are trying to enjoy the journey, we have to still be persistent in the accomplishment of our goals. Being patient is not the same thing as zoning out. 

Make concerted daily effort toward your life’s mission, while never expecting the outcome you so desperately seek is going to happen on your anticipated timeframe. Trust the universe is going to deliver on its own terms. Have daily goals and take persistent action—but be patient about when the result will appear. 

How Your Personality Affects Your Ability to Enjoy the Journey

The extroverts, the “D” and the “I” on the DISC profile, tend to be very action oriented. As a result, they can get a massive quantity done each day. They have the energy, but the potential pitfall here is they can take action on things that don’t actually matter. Because they’re trying desperately to complete tasks, these folks may end up doing more that doesn’t actually align with their life’s mission.

The introverts, the “S” and “C” on the profile, are reactive. They tend to take less action; they prefer to spend time alone. They may have a specific career outcome in mind, for example, but are at risk for experiencing regret later in life because they didn’t try new things on the regular basis. They didn’t take enough calculated risks. 

In other words, extroverts tend to take too much action and introverts take too little action. Both may fail to take the appropriate action to accomplish their life’s mission. We need to recognize our own behavioral patterns to avoid this mistake. To feel patient and balanced as well as healthy and whole, we also need to bake in activities that bring us back to center in times of stress or change. For the extroverts, it’s regular nights out with friends or doing things they love. For the introverts, it’s time alone or being home with family.

Enjoying the Journey

Nearly all of the people I support struggle to enjoy the journey. Many of the qualities that are so unique about them have been conditioned away by our 20th-century educational system. Often people are going through life in a manner that is not in accordance with their own hearts. Enjoying the journey is really about regularly creating unique experiences for ourselves that evoke a positive feeling. Most traditional work environments and relationships—even romantic relationships—have become transactional. My job is to uncover a person’s life’s narrative and remind them of how they can create those deeply emotional experiences on a weekly or monthly basis for themselves.

Once you understand what’s singularly authentic about you and your mission, you’ll create a life without hurry.

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