How to Practice Patience

“Bea, the best things in life take time”. That was my friend Yuhong back at graduate school. I can’t even remember what was the context in which she said that I had to be patient, but I know from time to time I have to re-listen to those words.

As change-makers, we itch for change and impact immediately and that is true for our communication as well. We start with no followers, put the message out there because IT IS SO IMPORTANT. 

We write a post and itch for it to go viral, itch for comments, we check and check and refresh the page. From the outside that doesn’t look good my friend. From the inside, it is such a waste of our time! 

We then check after sixty minutes to see if we did in fact, change the world. 

But nothing happens. 

Honestly, I have never been good with the waiting which is why this post is for you as much as it is for me. 

How can we practice patience?

We need to know how to practice patience. Especially when it comes to the content we produce and our social impact-based communication. Ever read the one about taking deep breaths to practice patience? I took many breaths in my careers, but nothing has ever worked like the three tips I’m going to share with you. 

1. Remember that not all impact is visible right away

When your communication is social impact-based or is an advocacy communication you might feel like nothing is happening after your many and many efforts. But as you proceed with your world-changing content, you have to be patient and remember that impact doesn’t happen overnight and most of it is not immediately visible. 

I remember when I was applying for grants to do training in media and communication based on my documentary (IN)VISIBLE CITIES. All the applications were asking about the impact our communication efforts had and I often felt like I could have left the space blank. But years later, I realized communities grew stronger because of our documentary. It took time and if I had known where that work would have brought me and how it would have positively affected the people we met, I definitely would have been more patient. Keep your eyes on the prize and as Robert Louis Stevenson said: 

“Do not measure success by today's harvest. Measure success by the seeds you plant today.” R.L. Stevenson Click To Tweet

2. Pick up an unrelated project 

If you have read my newsletter, you know that one way for me to practice patience is to pick up an unrelated project that I know for sure is going to take time. It can be knitting a sweater, doing some craftivism, planting some seeds, up-cycling a piece of furniture, writing a book… whatever it is you know will require you to show up every day for a little bit. Not the entire day, not for hours and hours, but every day a little bit. This will help you to slow down your want-to-see-results breathes and remind you that in your project like in your communication, you have to put a piece after another every day. 

3. Keep doing what you are doing 

The most well-kept secret on how to practice patience is to keep doing what you are doing. It sounds counterintuitive but is true: keep doing what you are doing, do it better, do it consistently, do it every day, do it for a short period of time every day and then let it go. Results will come as long as you show up and do the job. It might take time, years even but keep track of the highs and lows and at some point, you’ll look back and say “Wow, I made a difference”. 

And if you need a constant reminder of this, bookmark the video below and listen to it on loop. 

This shall be a collaborative space. So now it’s your time to share, how do you practice patience? Take a sec to share your tip in the comments.