When you stare at a sprouting plant and yell “Grow! Grow!” at it, what happens? To the plant, nothing. But you drive yourself crazy thinking about it, especially if you fill yourself with anxiety around the prospect of having a fully grown plant.
When you concentrate on fulfilling the plant’s needs: water, some sort of nourishment, the right amount of light, etc., and otherwise leave the plant to grow on its own (outside of maybe talking to it sometimes), something magical happens: the plant grows and you can spend all of that energy you would have wasted on anxiety on other things, enjoying the wait with perhaps a little pleasant anticipation of the coming adult plant.
In life, worrying too much about a specific happening that you put a lot of emphasis on tends to create nothing but anxiety and disappointment when things don’t go the way you expect. Worse, all of this worry and anxiety tend to cloud your ability to see the turning point where a newer, better opportunity presents itself. You miss the opportunity, watch your rigid plan collapse, and cry in your soup wondering why you are so “unlucky”.
It’s true that many “worry warts” succeed and, often, it is because of patience – in the sense that they make a plan, take steps toward the plan’s execution without trying to cut corners or “steal the win”, adjust their plan when circumstances change, and see things through to the end (or jump off a sinking ship in time to make an all-new plan with new goals). This brand of worrier just happens to make himself sick along the way.
But you don’t have to make yourself sick.
Patience doesn’t mean sitting around doing nothing. It means doing what you must, but not expecting results until it is time for them. Using our plant analogy, you still want to plant the seed and do the work of tending to the plant. If you can trust the plant to grow, you can reduce anxiety and live a happier, healthier life.