Patience is the Magic Key

If you are wrestling with big transition, patience is magic. It’s a key that unlocks confusion, fear, feeling stuck. We’re not naturally wired for slowing down when faced with change but rather for speed and getting thing “fixed.” Give me patience—now!

This mindset of speed creates conflict as we try to force our minds and hearts through a transition, and so we miss insights about ourselves and our choices.  In truth, patience does not have to be a forced, grit-your-teeth approach; You can make it a mindset of paying attention to exactly where you are.

Practicing patience does not have to limit your behavior or deny impatience, and I am not suggesting developing patience every day or all the time. You can exercise patient moments when the setting is right (reflecting on what your transition reveals)—maybe not so much in a traffic jam or waiting line. Impatience is a normal counterpoint that gives you juice and energy. Just don’t let impatience take over everything.

Small patient moments count. Relax, close your eyes, breathe deeply. Recall a situation in which you are patient, such as gardening, teaching, walking in nature, repairing something. Let your mind slow all your bouncing thoughts. Ask yourself what your choices are and what counts most. Before you take action, ask, “Is this the right step? Do I need to do this right now?” Over time small moments add up to perspective.

Here’s an example you have seen or experienced yourself. A worker is suddenly informed her job is no longer needed (or she’s no longer needed). She is in shock. She has severance pay and maybe a bit of outplacement counseling. She immediately wants to update her resume for the same type of job and put it online and into the hands of everyone. Nothing happens. She gets anxious and considers taking any kind of job because she is concerned about money. On it goes… These actions make sense, but practicing patience increases support and time to reassess her skills and strengths, maybe even looki at a different work path.

In working with clients in transition, the statement I make most often is “Be patient with yourself,” usually when the person feels he/she is not progressing quickly enough.

Here are six reasons to practice patience in a transition.

  • You are moving in a transition even when you think you are not. Emotionally, you are working through important questions.
  • Patience is like mindfulness or paying closer attention to clues and opportunities.
  • You avoid external and internal pressure to move faster than is best for you.
  • You gather more information—important information—about who you are and new ideas.
  • You give yourself relief from the stress of change.
  • You avoid the Pendulum Swing—moving so fast in one direction only to swing back because you missed something.

So instead of feeling stuck or weak, see patience as big key to moving from the Old Way to the New Way. The magic lies not in the key but in how you use it.