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June 12, 2023

Patience Is A Behavior Not A Feeling

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One of the most important factors to long term, sustainable growth is patience.

Understanding the nature of how compounding works, whether it be in your bank account or in your own improvement, we know that it takes time to get the massive results we’re looking for.

Logically this can make sense but for many people their behavior is different, falling short of the big payoff they’re due. The main reason of this is the way our minds have evolved. We are wired for immediate gratification. When we experience pleasure or a reward shortly after doing something we feel compelled to repeat it.

This mechanism is in place because, back when humanity was evolving, we needed to be really attuned to the things that kept us alive in the short term.

However, now that we live much more advanced lives, the things that are “best” for us don’t usually provide immediate gratification. It’s not about doing things that keep us alive in the moment but rather doing the things that prepare us with the health, productivity, and relationships that make us feel most fulfilled. Again, sometimes that’s not the fun thing to do in the moment.

That’s why patience is such a critical link. The more we can practice patience, and delay the gratification of what we’re doing for a later moment, the more consistently we’ll be able to choose the proactive behaviors that create good results for us over the long-term.

Now let’s say that you are making the right choices. You’re eating healthy instead of indulging in sugary and fatty foods that taste good. You’re investing in building a skill in the short term that will become a pillar to your career a few years down the road...

You still may not feel like you’re being patient. You may feel frustrated the results aren't coming fast enough. You sense yourself getting distracted and your focus being pulled into other things...

But what’s really important to note is that patience is not about how you feel, it’s all about your behavior. As long as you’re engaging in patient behaviors then you’re continuing to place those deposits in your future. You’re feelings towards it are less important.

Now worth noting, there are definitely some ways to make behaviors that offer delayed gratification more pleasurable in the moment. Things like gamification, reward stacking, and self-acknowledgment can be used to close the reward loop in the short term for behaviors that work for you in the long-term.

No matter the approach, there’s not getting around the fact that great things take time, and the more patient you can be through it all, the bigger the pot is at the end of the rainbow. And there’s nothing that feels better, or is more worthwhile, than that.

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