So many people consider time an enemy. Entrepreneurs feel the pressures of technology changing, competitors gaining advantage, or limited funds running out. Managers race against quarterly deadlines and performance targets. Young people push to get ahead before their expenses eat up their savings. All of this results in feelings of anxiety and impatience.
Impatience has its benefits as well. It creates drive, speed, and action. But many valuable opportunities are lost due to impatience. Most great business models and effective marketing programs require time to develop, prove, and take hold. Some of the best things are truly worth waiting for.
Still, it can be excruciating to wait for the world to catch up with what's already finished in your head. Few that are successful are ever truly patient. They have learned to manage their impatience and use it to their advantage. Here are a few ways to make the passage of time more tolerable and effective.
1. Reward and Reflect on Midpoint Milestones
So many people drive themselves crazy focusing on the end goal that they lose sight of the accomplishments along the way. The bigger the project, the more steps to get there. Every milestone deserves a celebration and a post-mortem. Every midpoint is an opportunity to reward the performance of the people involved helping to motivate their ongoing efforts. Then together you can analyze, refine, and improve in a structured manner.
These activities will help you feel less anxious as you manage expectations for time-frames and accomplishments. The detailed analysis will give you additional specific action steps going forward to improve your progress and move the project along a little faster. Create a detailed plan and a structured post-mortem process so you can revel and refine.
2. Bring Friends Along For the Ride
You can be your own worst enemy when in an impatient mode of operation. In 2008 my industry and company collapsed and I had to begin a 3-year journey of rebuilding from scratch. With few resources I had no choice but to go it alone... sort of. I knew it would take time to rebuild and that I was the only one who could do the work. But I included friends and colleagues on my journey. I spent time on the phone and in person discussing my plans and soliciting support and response.
The feedback was immensely helpful and helped me gauge my progress. Not only did my friends soften my anxiety, but keeping them informed allowed them to offer solutions and opportunities along the journey. Most importantly, they helped me keep my sense of humor when things were most frustrating. Set aside time to share your journey with those who care about you. Encourage them do the same. That's what bars are for.
3. Engage in Alternative Activities
Back in 2001, I had to rebuild my real estate finance company after a previous downfall. Even though I knew clearly what needed to happen, I also knew based upon available resources it was going to take a while. If I could have done every job myself, it might have gone faster, but of course, I was reliant on others internally and externally. The business could only move as quickly as employees, vendors, and customers would allow. I was faced with a choice. Abandon the plan or let it take the natural time to succeed. My early approach as an entrepreneur was to simply push harder. This time, I realized that applying more energy would only cause more stress internally and slow the process down.
So instead, I backed off. I disengaged. I found alternative activities to occupy me. I engaged heavily with the Entrepreneur's Organization building learning programs and holding board positions. I used the time to learn, and build a bigger and better network. Instead of applying 100 percent of my energy to the rebuilding company, I only applied the 25 percent required since the same results would have occurred regardless of the energy expended. Now the company grew on its own merits. My time focused elsewhere resulted in greater opportunities and benefits when the company was ready, and I was no longer needed all the time.
Long-term projects are valuable and worthwhile. They can kill the competition and create great wealth. Learn how to manage your impatience and apply the right amount of energy to a project so it can take its natural course and achieve exponential results. Accept that the greater the complexity, the greater the benefit, and the longer it will take to reach its full potential. Forcing it to move at an unrealistic pace is like trying to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.
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