Hi guys! Today we have a guest post from Chris at Keepthrifty.com
Check out his most recent post Experience is Better Than Stuff Except When it’s Not
I want you to try something for me. I’m going to tell you the secret to success in this post, but I want you to resist the temptation to jump ahead. In fact, I’d like you to take a deep breath and count to 100 before you go on.
Cue Jeopardy music…buh bah buh bo buh bah buh…
How’d you do? Did you make it all the way to 100 before scrolling down here? Actually counting every number along the way?
If so, good for you – you’re one of the proud few; take a victory lap: Tweet your victory
If not, that’s ok, you’re in the majority. Since misery loves company, go ahead and invite some friends to join you: Tweet your failure
Still wondering what the secret is? Hold on, not yet.
Maybe you already scrolled down to find it. If so, shame on you.
Good Things Come to Those Who Wait
In 1960, Walter Mischel and Ebbe Ebbesen conducted an experiment at Stanford University to understand more about when children develop the ability to delay gratification.
The experiment was simple; the researchers put a child (aged 4-6) in a room with a treat, often a marshmallow, and gave them a simple choice.
The child could eat the marshmallow whenever they wanted and the experiment would be over. If, however, the child waited 15 minutes without eating the marshmallow, the researcher would return and provide an extra marshmallow.
The results? Only one-third of the children were able to restrain themselves long enough get the reward.
But that’s not the most interesting part.
The researchers kept track of the study participants and came to an interesting conclusion about 15 years or so later.
The children that successfully delayed gratification, getting the second marshmallow, tended to do better in life, with higher SAT scores, healthier BMIs (body-mass indexes), and an increased ability to cope with stress and frustration in adolescence.
That’s right. The ability to put off eating a treat 15 minutes as a young kid was a somewhat reliable predictor of adult success.
To hear more (including some hilarious video clips of kids trying to resist eating marshmallows), check out this 6-minute TED talk from Joachim de Posada: Don’t Eat the Marshmallow
So with all that, you’ve got the secret to success, right?
It’s just one simple word…patience
Don’t despair if you failed the patience test at the beginning of this post or if you know you would have shoved that marshmallow in your mouth before the researcher left the room.
Patience can be developed through practice but you’ve got to know where to start.
Patience with Goals
Everyone has goals. Some want to pay off their debt; others want to learn a new skill like playing guitar.
There are even some crazy ones like me that hope to build a community of readers that are passionate about discovering better ways to live their lives.
All of these take incredible patience to accomplish.
Debt doesn’t disappear overnight. If you lack the patience to make your regular payments, interest grows and compounds creating an even bigger monster.
Learning a new skill takes practice; Malcom Gladwell concluded that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become world-class in any field. Maybe you don’t expect to become world-class, but even being a respectable guitarist takes a fair amount of time.
If you’re not patient, you’ll play too much in too short of a time and tear up your fingers on the strings because you haven’t yet built up the callouses needed to play hours a day.
Building a community takes time; you have to develop your style, find people that resonate with your message, and continuously work on developing better content. If you lack patience, you’ll give up before ever really start to get traction.
Overnight successes are a myth. Any overnight success you hear of has a history of years of work developing the skills and resources leading up to that success. You’re just hearing the punchline.
Any real goal worth achieving is going to require some level of patience. Start building your patience by picking some shorter-term goals where you’ve got the skills but you just need the patience to stick it out.
If you’re really struggling to come up with one, go back to the start of this post and try the count to 100 challenge. Now that you’ve got a reason to wait, I’m certain you can do it this time around.
Once you’ve built up your patience with small goals, start picking longer-timeline goals or goals where you need to develop a skill along the way. You’re bound to hit roadblocks, so remember:
“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.”
The biggest thing that separates those who succeed from those that do not isn’t innate talent or luck, it’s the patience to continue working until the job is done.
Patience in Daily Life
In the long-term, patience is a necessity for achieving those big goals. That said, the benefits of patience in our daily lives can be great as well.
On the financial side, a little bit of patience can help pad your wallet. Instead of feeling the need to catch every book or movie the second it is released, a little bit of patience and a library card put you in a position to still enjoy these things but without paying a cent.
Outside of finances, patience is an opportunity to appreciate the amazing blessings you already have.
The next time you find yourself waiting in line at the grocery store behind someone paying by paper check, take a moment to close your eyes and breathe. Feel your feet on the ground and appreciate the fact that you’re alive and able to be here in this moment.
I’m sure you’ve got “better” things to do than wait in line, but you really only have two choices – allow something outside your control to take over your emotions or to recognize that even the most minor inconvenience can be a great reminder to appreciate what you do have.
“People sacrifice the present for the future. But life is available only in the present. That is why we should walk in such a way that every step can bring us to the here and the now.”
Thich Nhat Hahn
Patience is hard and it seems as if it’s becoming more rare.
Don’t be a part of the problem; choose to be patient with others and choose to be patient with yourself.
Do this and you’ll find that you’ll be able to accomplish things you never really believed were possible.
Chris Durheim is a dad and spreadsheet nerd who loves talking about personal finance, faith, and living with purpose at KeepThrifty.com
Readers: tell us about a time patience paid off.