There’s a Swedish saying that goes “Patience is the fisherman’s best friend”. For the fisherman, the outcome is often unpredictable and the only way for him to make sure he gets results is to put the time in, which means to wait and hope. If he has a bad day and decides to leave after half an hour, he will most likely leave with nothing but a feeling of emptiness. Some days he might luck out, and catch a fish quickly but on other days that might not be the case. The outcome is unpredictable and uncontrollable, the only thing he can control is his input of time and patience.
How does this have anything to do with fitness and training? Well, in a world where we can readily have anything we want within a few minutes, it’s easy to also to become impatient inside the gym. Many times, we feel a sense of urgency to meet our goals instantly. The good thing with this is that you’re actively thinking about your goals and your development. However, when this might become an issues is when we decide we want it now, or we wanted it yesterday. Our goals can become overwhelming, when in fact they should serve as an inspiration and direction for your training.
So how can we manage our desire to meet our goals, but to not let them overpower us or make us feel inadequate when we are not quite there yet? It’s simply patience.
Why is patience important?
- Patience helps you develop realistic expectations. Like the fisherman, his ultimate goal is to catch a big fish. He will not know how long that will take, how many hours he will have to put in, but he can design a rough plan that ‘today I will go fishing for two hours’. In those two hours, he might catch a fish, and he might not. He sets himself a realistic expectation of what might happen. Realistically, success won’t happen overnight or during a two hour window. Only persistent effort and time will yield the desired outcome.
- It helps you understand that setbacks are temporary. Our plan and what actually happens might look a bit different… When something doesn’t play out the way you hoped them to, taking a step back and trying to understand why that is and making the right adjustments will actually help you move forward in a more effective way. Setbacks should never be seen as a failure, but instead a chance to learn how we can change our method to further our development.
- Patience forces you to become focused on the solution. With a patient mindset, you put more faith in the process rather than the outcome. When something might not go as you planned, spend some time reflecting as to why. Did you set yourself up for success today in terms of sleep, preparation, nutrition? Are you enjoying the process of training? Some of these questions will help you find solutions that will allow you to put more focus on the journey and not the end goal.
- Patience helps you eliminate doubt, worry and fear. Patience gives you the confidence that you know you can achieve your goals, even if it will take a bit of time. Along the way, doubt, worry and fear can creep in and make you doubt the process. Having already established realistic expectations, dealt with setbacks and set your eyes on the solution and development process, you can rest assured that there is no need to worry or fear the outcome. Just trust in the plan and enjoy the ride.
I believe that a patient mindset can help all of us move towards our goals in a smarter way. Whether you are completely new to working out, a seasoned CrossFit athlete or recovering from an injury, understanding the need for patience as we develop is key to success. The only things we can control is the effort we put in and the attitude we chose to have about it. Patience and persistence in your effort will not only bring you closer to your goal but also allow you to reach sustained success. It will allow you to reach a higher level of accomplishment than a sense of urgency ever could.