We live in a society based on instant gratification. Hungry? A microwave will have you eating in minutes. Getting your dream car is a simple matter of signing up for debt. And months of pining for a perfumed reply from your true love is replaced by a simple click on send/receive. Life has become convenient, but are we better off for it? Here are 10 things we miss out on by not be willing to wait.
1. Priorities become clear
More than ever, we find ourselves bombarded with opportunities and possibilities. It’s easy to get sucked into too many activities that have nothing to do with your purpose and drain your energy, time and resources. Waiting is the perfect vaccine for those things that have no place in your life. The ‘meant-to-be’s’ have built-in staying power that distractions don’t. Given time, temporary things will drop out of your life effortlessly, leaving you free to focus on that which is truly you. Time has a beautiful way of sifting the important from the fluff.
2. Develop perseverance
With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable -Thomas Foxwell Buxton
Perseverance is defined as “persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success”. Did you catch the sneaky little keyword there? A swimmer builds muscles by putting in hours in the water, a body builder pushes ever-increasing weights and us…we stick at what we want to do. Then we get up tomorrow and do it again. We keep on until we reach our goals. Persevering builds our emotional, physical and spiritual muscles so when we crack the goal we’ve been aiming at, we are equipped for the demands of the new season. We’ve been trained by the process of persevering. That kind of toughening up cannot happen in a day, or by popping a pill. It takes time.
3. Productive habits
Whatever you are waiting for–whether it be a spouse, a book deal, or a promotion–your waiting time need not be wasted time. Start making the changes now. Rearrange your schedule to accommodate what you are working towards. Don’t be scared to shift priorities, move furniture, set your alarm an hour earlier each morning. Do whatever you feel would help position yourself for the breakthrough you are waiting for.
4. Understanding yourself
There are high and low points in all our lives, yet these are not what define us. The best place to find out who we really are, is in the sticky bits in between the two. It’s in the slog of daily living that we discover our greatest strengths and weaknesses. Embrace normal life; don’t fight it. Knowing who you are while you’re up to your elbows in soap suds and floating leftovers will keep you grounded when success comes.
5. Rest & regroup
Allow yourself downtime. Sleep until you’re finished; take walks in the fresh air. Ride a bicycle and read a book. Recharge your soul with things that feed you. Learn a new recipe, plant a tree. Break out of the mold that life has you trapped in. Waiting creates space in your life, precious time to get in touch with what is going on inside you. It creates space to come to grips with what makes your heart beat faster–what is important to you. Don’t waste it by filling it with rushing or busyness.
Did you grow up wearing hand-knitted sweaters made with love by your granny? It’s becoming more rare by the generation. Knitting takes patience, and there are few things left in our highly efficient society that are geared towards growing patience in us. Waiting is one of them. Like any classroom full of scholars, there are some who resist learning and others who embrace it. If life has you in a headlock and you know you’re going to be there for some time, use your energy wisely–don’t fight it; embrace it.
The process of waiting is often linked to lacking something. Think about it. If you’re waiting to meet your life partner, you are missing having a significant other. An empty fridge is a sure sign of someone waiting for payday, and someone hankering after a promotion does so because they are hungry for a challenge, a boost in self-esteem, or a bigger paycheck. Waiting forces us to work with what we have in hand. This sounds terrifying, but once you shift your mind, it becomes liberating. Start to see things around, and inside you, with different eyes. It’s an adventure to make do with what you have, and not rush out to buy something new at the first twinge of lack. Try it! You’ll surprise yourself with your resourcefulness.
8. Tolerance and empathy
Getting exactly what you want, when you want it, is not always a good thing. Ask any mom. Continual immediate gratification over a long period of time can sow seeds of entitlement and pride. When these mindsets are allowed to take root and grow, the end result is not pretty. On the other hand, waiting is a great humbler. A humble person is aware of the struggles of others and can empathize with their troubles. In short, waiting can make you a better person.
Waiting will lead you through situations you don’t believe you can cope with. You will come out the other side stronger, more capable and with a shot of Vitamin C to your self-confidence. We are not built to be rescued at the first sign of discomfort. How would we have learned to walk if those caring for us had been too worried to put such strain on our leg muscles? Waiting is hard. It is uncomfortable, inconvenient, and makes us face things about ourselves that we’d rather avoid. But if we let it, it stretches us beyond what we think our limits are, and there we discover there was a whole lot more to us than we ever knew.
Once you bend your head around the fact that waiting is your friend, and not your enemy, some important things will shift in your head. Instead of being frustrated by delays, you can be grateful for them, make the most of each one and soar through your time of waiting. On the other side of it, you will see how much has been grown in your character even though it felt like nothing was happening at the time. Now that is something to be grateful for.
Featured photo credit: beautiful young girl resting in a cafe via shutterstock.com
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