Gretchen Rubin’s Happier podcast has been one of my favorites for a long time, and recently Gretchen and Elizabeth inspired me to choose a word of the year for 2018. Normally I would deliberate over a decision like this for days or weeks, come up with a few options, have trouble narrowing my options down, end up choosing several, and then having trouble committing fully to any of them. This year, however, I found one that resonated right away, so I decided not to over-think it. Patience. I need it. I haven’t mastered it. Ever. And this is a year when I’ll require more than I’ve perhaps ever required before.
I started a new business in September, and although progress is happening, as with many new businesses, that progress is slow. I’m told that this is normal, to be expected. That does very little to put my mind at ease, however. I tried to establish reasonable expectations for the business, and I told myself that I knew what I was getting into. Instead of accepting normal results, however, some part of my subconscious must have secretly hoped that we would achieve unprecedented success. Deep down, my fears would only have been assuaged when and if we exceeded all industry expectations for new businesses.
A new business isn’t the only reason I require a little extra patience this year. I am also 30 weeks pregnant, awaiting the arrival of my first child. Let me tell you – waiting ten more weeks for my life to change in ways I’m sure I can’t even yet imagine feels like an eternity. Just like waiting for results from my business, the future is a complete unknown. And instead of enjoying my last ten weeks of not being a parent yet, I keep wishing away the days just hoping to rush ahead to delivery day.
Thus, with a couple of major life changes occurring simultaneously and with wild anticipation, I realized that patience was easily the virtue I needed most! This brings me to the important question – how do I apply my new word of the year so that it feels like I’m incorporating it into my life?
Repeating the word “Patience” to myself like a mantra.
When I find myself facing moments of frustration, my go-to reaction now is to remind myself to be PATIENT. I’m surprised by how often this actually applies to whatever situation I’m dealing with. The fact that this tactic has been so useful tells me how sorely I was in need of applying a little patience to my life. If patience is the answer to most of my frustrations, it was obviously a major void in my life. Just hearing myself say the word helps me to take a step back and recognize that nothing needs to happen overnight.
Writing my Word of the Year in places where I’ll see it frequently.
I’ve written my Word of the Year in several conspicuous places like in my daily planner so that every day I’m reminded to exercise some patience, even outside of my moments of frustration. I also heard a great suggestion to purchase a custom piece of jewelry, like a bracelet, with your word printed on it. I could imagine looking at my wrist every so often and benefiting from the reminder. I would guess that throughout the year, after repeating a word to yourself over and over, you’ll notice other objects imprinted with your word or other reminders of your word.
Keeping in mind that life happens in the journey.
I seem to be stuck in this paradigm, believing that I’ll finally be happy when I reach some measurable end-point. I’m so eager to realize the results of my actions that I forget to enjoy the process. This had led me to give up on several things that could have been rewarding. For example, I don’t know how many times I’ve abandoned and returned to my blog simply because I thought it was pointless if no one was reading it anyways. But it turns out that I actually enjoy writing down my thoughts. I don’t necessarily need “results” in the form of millions of devoted readers to validate my choice to write. We’ve all heard it before, but maybe it’s true. Maybe the journey matters more than the results. And maybe if you’re not enjoying the journey, then you won’t be any happier when you do realize some arbitrary results.
Quit comparing my results to anyone else’s.
We’re all in different boats, and comparing ourselves to each other is pointless. The only valuable comparison to make is within, comparing ourselves today to ourselves from yesterday. After all, once I achieve whatever results I’m looking for, I’ll then be able to look around and find someone who has achieved more. Suddenly, there will be new results to strive for. Why not celebrate the results I’ve achieved to date? When it comes to the business, maybe I should be spending more time being pleased that I finally took action and got the ball rolling. Maybe I should be celebrating the few patrons and social media followers we’ve already accrued. Instead I’ve been solely focused on what’s next. I don’t want to lose my focus on getting to the next step, but it seems that by comparing my results to people who started sooner or are in different situations serves only to take away from my satisfaction with my own progress.
Striving for a mindset shift.
I have been in the habit of telling myself that I’m already 35 and worrying about what I should have done by now that others have already achieved. What if I started telling myself that I’m only 35 and began to focus on how much progress I’ve made so far? What if I thought about the people who still haven’t started their business at 35. Or the people who haven’t started having children yet? As long as we continue to take steps forward every day, adopt a patience mindset, and keep up the hard work, then we’ll get where we’re going eventually. Age is such an arbitrary marker, but it’s been holding me back!
So there we are. In 2018 I WILL have patience. I won’t expect results to happen overnight. I’ll focus on the process and avoid getting down about temporary fluctuations in those results! I won’t obsess over the micro-results. And hopefully at the end of the year, I’ll have something to show for myself 🙂