Patience is essential for a successful and satisfied life. Modern technologies and shorter attention spans lead us to expect immediate rewards and results. Because of this, long-term projects and problem solving are being abandoned with increasing frequency.
I'm not just referring to the patience needed to wait for a website to load: 40% of visitors abandon a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load. To me, patience is primarily about the willingness to accept delayed rewards for one's work.
There is no such thing as overnight success. You need perseverance to be successful. People who have supposedly suddenly become successful, famous, rich or powerful have usually worked hard for years beforehand. Great achievements always take time – no matter how the success is presented later. You could say that this is a law of nature.
The results of your habits or career planning are also subject to this law. Just because you invest the effort now doesn't mean you should expect immediate results.
However, if you keep at it, don't give up and do your best, sooner or later you will experience explosive growth and finally get the results you deserve. Even the exponential growth curve seems flat and slow in the beginning.
In his book “The Dip,” Seth Godin describes that the so-called dip affects almost all worthwhile activities. In the beginning, the endeavor is fun and brings success. After some time, however, both the fun and the success collapse – this is the dip. At this point, most people give up. Those who continue get to the top.
The dip separates beginners from experts: the harder something is, the more likely it is that others will give up and that you will end up being one of the best.
There are many examples of this concept in my life as well, with varying degrees of significance. Google decided to consistently index all articles on this website only after many months. Before that, many pages were simply ignored. If I had given up at this point, my website would not be in the search engine index until today.
Besides this small success, however, my biggest “achievements” so far are due to patience and delayed rewards. I applied to three scholarship providers over several months, wrote many emails and solved numerous problems until I got a scholarship. I worked for the Student Council for about a year until I was elected chairman. And during my studies I also did my best so that I could get a job as a student assistant later on.
It is important to say, however, that there are two challenges with long-term rewards.
First, you can never be sure what form the result of your efforts will take. It is usually impossible to plan it precisely. For example, I could not have planned where or if I would get a scholarship at all. The outcome could have been that I was “just” improving my communication and problem-solving skills by applying for months. You can learn something from any outcome, but you never know what.
Second, you don't know when you will get the result. Sometimes you can estimate roughly what time span you'll be in, but most of the time you miscalculate. My election as student council chair was anything but certain – let alone getting that result after a year.
These two challenges are the main reasons why patience is so difficult. You don't know what you're going to get, or when. You have to trust that your work will pay off in the end and that you will get something positive out of the result.
But since this is possible with all results, if you allow it mentally, I can say from my own experience: Patience really pays off if you follow through until the end.