The 21st century is the most information rich time in history. Movies, books, articles, videos, clothes, toys, companies, causes and people are infinitely at our fingertips.
As humans, we struggle to prioritize stimulants and are easily hooked into doing more. Our to-do lists pile high with projects, ideas, goals, travel destinations, and friends to catch up with.
While we are all individually doing more, talking more, connecting more and building more, we miss the present moment. We rush through town to the next meeting checking emails along the way.
Living like this, we miss the day. Our senses are on overload and the little things slip through the crack.
We miss the smells of the coffee shops. We miss the crispness of the cool air in our lungs. We miss the sounds of the town. We miss the connection to the cute girl buying scones at the Whole Foods.
And for what? To do more? To be happy?
As I have found, shockingly, the only moment we have is now.
This is why I created the Patience Challenge.
I put together the Patience Challenge as I caught myself taking insignificant short-cuts in my day that did nothing but kill my quality of life.
Since adopting the Patience Challenge, I feel more present and more happy with my day and self.
And there have been tangible wins too.
I made friends with an old lawyer in line at the bank, helped an UBER driver pursue her dream of being a dancer, had three dates from UBER pools and befriended a notable Silicon Valley investor.
If you’re like me, you might benefit from the Patience Challenge.
As I said, the only moment we have is now, let yourself experience it, you never know what is passing you by.
The Patience Challenge
The Patience Challenge is a life-long challenge.
If this intimidates you, you should do it more than anyone. I have done 30-day challenges and just like a diet, all things come crumbling down once it is over.
30-day challenges teach us to say “I can’t” do that behavior. A narrative that says an external force is preventing us. And once that force is removed, we go back to being the person we were before.
The Patience Challenge, however, teaches us to say “I don’t” do that behavior. “I don’t” speaks to our identity. I, as a person, am patient. I, as a person, do not do those behaviors.
Can’t vs. Don’t — a critical mindset shift.
How it works
The Patience Challenge is simple: Catch yourself taking insignificant short-cuts in your day, and then stop taking them.
Noticing these insignificant short-cuts is hard and they will be different for everyone. However, to get you started, I have created a list of behavior changes that will probably resonate with you.
These are changes I made to prevent insignificant short-cuts in my life.
Which ones make sense for you?
Patience Challenge Activities
- Let the microwave beep. All the way.
- Stand all the way on the sidewalk at a crosswalk.
- Stop at yellow lights when driving.
- Eat meals with no book, no device, and no music.
- Eat lunch at a real table, not your work desk.
- Walk slow enough people pass you.
- Wait for the microwave
- Take your daily commute without touching your phone.
- Wait in line for things without checking your phone.
- Say hello to cashiers before ordering.
- Actually, read articles, don’t skim.
- Sleep with your phone on airplane mode, unlock it after breakfast.
- Walking from work to meetings without checking your phone.
- Say hello to your UBER Driver.
If you don’t do any of these, I encourage you to pick them up into your challenge. They’ll help a lot.
That’s about it.
As I said, the Patience Challenge is simple. You don’t have to change your schedule or routine.
Keys to Success
Being that the Patience Challenge is a life-long commitment, you’ll have to realize you’re going to screw it up every now and then.
Sometimes I catch myself checking my phone compulsively or munching my lunch at my desk.
And that’s okay.
Just like we screw up in life sometimes, we don’t just give up. If we screw up in a job interview, no one walks away and says, “well I guess jobs aren’t for me” We might think that, but we don’t do that. The Patience Challenge is the same way. If you screw something up, say “damn,” and get back to it.
Lastly, keep track of your challenge in a journal. If you commit to watching the microwave beep at zero, track that in a journal with check and crosses. Research has proven this will improve your results.
There’s not much else to say, but I hope it helps.
If you get out there and do it, definitely share what behaviors you picked up and I will add it to the list!
Happy short-cut hunting.
Originally published at medium.com