Patience, they say, is a virtue.
And I don’t have much of it.
At least not in the sense that I am apt to wait quietly for a long time. I don’t do anything quietly.
I admit to getting easily frustrated by little, silly or uncontrollable things. And to complaining, loudly and often.
I realize this isn’t my best personality trait. In my defense, I’m more impatient with myself and inanimate objects than with other humans.
I bring all of this up because it is the time of the year for making new goals, or “resolutions” as we like to call them, at the turn of a new year. As I’ve mulled with others what I might want to pursue in 2013, my shortcomings in the patience department have come up.
You’ve gotta love family for the brutal honesty, and for forcing introspection.
But how do you work on patience? Or even measure your improvement? Is the repitition of the “Serenity Prayer” in my future? Yoga?
In the last month, I’ve grown increasingly agitated as I’ve struggled to figure out how to work on patience and measure my progress.
Then, this week, while reflecting on my 2012 resolution success, I realized I’d really been working on patience all year long! Could I build on what I’d already learned in 2012 and use it to get even better in 2013?
I offer this example:
My No. 1 resolution in 2012 was to boost my 401k after not contributing for two years while self-employed. Specifically, I wanted to bring it up to the level the Wells Fargo “online retirement calculator” said I needed to be at by age 30 to be “on track” to retire by 65.
This involved going back to work full time and diverting almost half my paycheck. Three months in, I got my first statement.
“I’ll never get there,” I whined to my husband. “Why should I bother?” I was on the verge of tears.
“You’re making progress,” Carl insisted, pointing out the line was trending upward, albiet slowly.
“I know. But ...” I said, further raising the pitch of my whine. He interrupted me with a stomp. Then with his hands on his hips and his bottom lip stuck out, he said in his best little girl voice, “But I want it now!”
“But I do!” I replied, sticking out my lip, before we descended into laughter. Later that night, I adjusted my contribution. I wouldn’t miss a few extra cups of coffee on the way to the office, I told myself.
Three months later, I looked at my statement and readjusted it without the drama. Three months later, I did it again. A month ago, I reached the goal I thought was impossible.
The very act of setting a resolution, any resolution, can be a yearlong exercise in patience all by itself. All I really need to do is to be more conscious of how I react to the progress I’m making toward my new goals and reward myself for it.
After all, to accomplish any meaningful long-term goal, perseverance and sustained effort are needed. Both are mentioned in the definition of patience, I might add.
CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2653.