Whether you want to be a good writer or a healthy eater, any goal worth achieving takes time and effort. But with today’s ‘on-demand’ culture of instant gratification, we’re not used to having to wait or work for the things we want most.
Luckily, patience is a virtue that can be learned. And you really should, because it’s an invaluable skill for anyone who wants to succeed at a long-term goal. Here’s how to develop this important virtue for yourself.
Impatient? You’re not alone
When it comes to achieving long-term goals, I see a lack of patience in so many of my clients. But that’s just human nature. Once we set our hearts on something we all want it immediately! It’s great to have fire inside you, but not when it means you get so frustrated when things don’t go your way that you give up at the first hurdle.
It’s not about the goal...
From fitting back into your skinny jeans to running a marathon, your ultimate goal is important. But making it your main focus isn’t a great strategy if you know you’re not very patient, because getting there is going to take a lot of time and effort. If you set a goal and go for it without a plan in place, chances are you’ll slip back into your old ways once that initial burst of enthusiasm dies down.
...it’s about the journey
To avoid this take your focus away from your goal. Instead, concentrate on building simple, daily habits and rewarding yourself when they’re established. Remember that motivation is fickle, it comes and goes. But with habits you just stick to the schedule and don’t worry about the results. It’s a strategy that really works. I always say that people don’t decide their futures, they decide their habits and then their habits decide their futures.
Build a new identity
While all good habits are important, identity habits are particularly useful. To build an identity habit you need to decide the type of person you want to become and then ask yourself, what kind of habits would that person have?
For example if your goals are around getting fit, you need to identify with the type of person who exercises regularly. See life through their eyes. What do they do each day?
Prove your new identity to yourself
In order to believe in this new identity you’re trying to establish, you have to keep finding ways to prove it to yourself. You can do this with quick wins.
For example if your goal is to write a book, you may want to develop the habit of writing regularly. Your quick win here would be to write 100 words each day. Scribbling a paragraph or two won’t take you long, but because you’re writing so consistently the effect on the way you view yourself is invaluable. Those small successes give you such an instant boost that you’ll start to believe that you’re a writer in no time.
Leon Taylor competed for Great Britain at three Olympic Games and was the first British diver in over 44 years to win a silver medal. A BBC sports commentator and mentor to diving sensation Tom Daley, Leon is now a performance and wellness coach.