When it comes to training, many people look for quick results. Fat loss. Muscle growth. Healing an injury. Whatever.
A lot of people have told me, “I’m just impatient” or “I just need to be more patient”.
But, here’s the thing. You’re either patient or you’re not. It’s a state of being. There’s no trying to be patient.
Patience is, according to the dictionary, “bearing provocation, annoyance, misfortune, delay, hardship, pain, etc., with fortitude and calm and without complaint, anger, or the like.”
But I think there’s more to it than that. The definition doesn’t tell you what you need in place to be patient; to bear misfortune, delay, etc., without complaint.
There are three main factors when it comes to being patient with a situation or process.
Knowledge. You have to know the situation and circumstance and accept it. Knowledge is facts. So, for example, I love playing golf but honestly I suck at it if you measure me against the standard of par for the course. I used to, and occasionally sometimes still do, get very frustrated playing the game. I have never thrown any clubs but a few less than gracious words have flown out of my mouth as my ball sails into a pond…for the third time.
The facts are that I am not a professional golfer, I am playing a game, and I don’t practice much at all. There’s no disputing facts. They just are.
Understanding. Understanding is the meaning of the facts or knowledge. Staying with the example, if I know I’m not a pro, that I’m playing just a game and I don’t practice, the meaning of those facts is that I will not put up a great score. Frustration and impatience arise when I refuse to accept the meaning of the facts.
Expectations. Now, you take the two – knowledge and understanding – the facts and the meaning of the facts – and put them to work by forming an expectation. When you refuse to accept the facts, then you can set unrealistic expectations for yourself. And frustration and impatience blossom in the fertile soil of denial.
I used to refuse to accept that I could not break 90 on the golf course every time I played. I know how that sounds but I’m being real. I finally – most of the time – have accepted the facts and the meaning. Now I am more likely to enjoy the game because my expectations are in line with the facts (but please don’t ask my wife about that because we played the other day and I was Dr. Grumpy for a good hour over my horrific swing).
Let’s take another example.
Your pants feel too tight and you’re frustrated by your double chin. Every time you look in the mirror or need a bigger waist size, you feel frustrated, impatient that you still look and feel the way you do and even feel discouraged. You feel like you look old and worn out and you hate feeling this way.
What are the facts? What do you know about the situation? What’s your diet like? What do you eat and drink regularly? How much protein and fat are you eating? How about refined carbs, sugar, snacks? What about your training, exercise, activity? How often are you training and with what degree of effort?
As you answer these questions, you’re laying out the facts. Chances are your diet is not optimal and you’re hit or miss with your training. Now, knowing these facts, what kind of expectations can you form when you accept the meaning of those facts?
Can you reasonably expect to not have a double chin and not need a bigger size?
And can you reasonably conclude that this situation will improve anytime in the future if you continue to refuse to accept the meaning of the facts?
Do you suppose your frustration and impatience will change anytime soon?
Whatever you’re impatient with, list out the facts; what you know to be true and indisputable. Then, explain, as if to a friend, what these facts mean.
Now, you may want to change your situation which usually means changing the facts. For me and golf, it’s getting to the practice range and playing more golf if my expectation is to lower my score.
For you and your double chin and expanding waist line, it means adopting a different way of living; a more active lifestyle and healthy eating. You’ll either have to change the facts to create a new meaning of those facts or accept the current facts as is.
Do you struggle with patience? What do you do to develop it?