Read My Mind

Guest Blog: The Power of Persistence and Patience

by Roger Nix, NMMNG Certified Life Coach on Oct 18th, 2012.     9 comments

patience-work“You only live once, and if you pay attention once is enough.”


“Guess what?  I am going to start meditating. I am learning to play the guitar! Not only that but I am now a vegetarian!”

Have you made pronouncements like these and a few weeks later had the feeling of putting your tail between your legs and running from your exciting new adventures?

What goes wrong? Why do you quit, even though you haven’t put much effort into change?

For me it comes down to two things, distraction and discouragement. These dream killers are really anxiety and fear.

When I am entering a process of change, like setting boundaries at work or in a relationship, letting go of an old behavior, or becoming more intimate in a relationship, I am often distracted by spending time imagining the benefits I will gain when I have reached my goal.

I think and ponder how I will look and feel better when I eat well. When I read books on the subject. When I enjoy the pleasure of imagining being able to play music for a small group of friends and having everyone sing along.

Visualizing these things can help overcome habit and fear. It is powerful to use the imagination to inspire and motivate. However, dipping into the future without taking action in the present can be a distraction and detrimental to acting on intentions.

I can delude myself with feelings of immediate gratification by daydreaming about the rewards that will come when I have “changed.” Often I mistake thinking about the process for progress. This comes in the form planning my new adventure, going to the office supply store for all the tools I will need, buying books and telling everyone what I am up to – anything but actually doing the thing.

Distraction allows me to avoid my fears and “get off” on the excitement of the new, shiny thing. All reward no pain. Not a bad deal until the illusion wears thin and all I have to show for is more books. Now I have to find a new inspiration.

I can also become impatient and discouraged during my progress if I continually compare where I am at in the process against where I imagine I should be. After three guitar practice sessions I can’t notice any improvement or I notice that at times I feel more anxious when I meditate. “I didn’t improve. Therefore I must not be very good at these things.”

I become so focused on the gap between where I am and where I want to be that the distance seems so great I become overwhelmed.

I remember this feeling when driving through Kansas. I could see for miles, and I continually felt that I was not making progress because the horizon kept moving.

I want it now and working and waiting seem too painful. The pain triggers my anxiety, and I see the discomfort as evidence that I am on the wrong track.

These diversions drain my energy and take my attention away from doing what is next. The distraction diverts my progress, and in the end creates discouraging beliefs:

“I can’t do it.”

“I am not good enough."

“This isn’t worth it.”

The anxiety this produces can convince me that my goal isn’t worth it. Since I haven’t completed what I started so many times in the past, I eventually decide that I will never complete the process. So why try?

I am indulging my fear and letting it drain away any joy I could experience from the process.

I have quit on many dreams because of these patterns. I used to beat myself up over the long list of skills or things I would now have if I had just stuck with it!

I now realize that the loss of the rewards I might have experienced by sticking with the process is the least of the losses. The greatest loss is missing the feeling of aliveness and of being fully in the experience while I am doing it. I am missing my life by worshiping the idea of what my life could have been or will be when I complete what I started.

The success or failure of my intentions is no longer the main motivation for my actions in the process of change. What gives me the willingness to be persistent and patient in the process of change is that I am energized by fully focusing on the task at hand, not the future. Because focusing on the future is the source of most of my anxiety.

The peace and joy we seek isn’t in the achievement of goals but in relaxing into the present moment and the task at hand.

This is “consciousness” and consciousness is its own reward.

Oh, by the way, consciousness is also the best way to achieve that “pot of gold at the end of the journey” we aspire. The greatest reward to being fully in the present moment is that when we do get to our destination we will have the skill to savor it fully and be nourished for the next adventure.

Here are some practices that help me notice the life I am living:

  • Slow down, slow everything down. Live at the speed of life.

  • Do one thing at a time.

  • Do something new everyday.

  • Start your day with your to do list on a small post it, place the 3 most important items on it and do them.

  • Take regular breaks that require physical action, such as a walk.

  • Spontaneously call an old friend or family member.

Enjoy the journey.


roger nix 1 1

Roger Nix is a Certified No More Mr. Nice Guy Coach and teaches “Fierce Relaxation,” a Four Week online course designed to provide the skill to regulate anxiety in a positive way.
Topics: Consciousness Personal Growth Self-Soothing


jwardl says ...
Interesting... and accurate. A long time ago, I read a book by Dr. Wayne Dyer called, "Your Erroneous Zones." While it wasn't as impactful or powerful as NMMNG, it did help to a degree. Anyway, one of the points in it is how ineffective it is to live in the past or present... looking back in regret to a past that CANNOT be changed or dreaming of a future that hasn't yet happened -- all the while wasting the PRESENT moment, which missed, is gone forever.

Indeed, you're right, Roger. While the past has value for its ability to teach and the future must, to a degree, be planned for -- immersing oneself in either is nothing more than daydreaming... an avoidance maneuver by us NG's who are unhappy with our skewed and inaccurate views of what our lives are and can be. The present moment is what its all about, and can be very hard for us to learn to seize and maximize even once we're aware. But it's important, even necessary, to break free from our NG behavior and become well-adjusted, effective, and truly happy.
Super Coupe Nut says ...
"The greatest loss is missing the feeling of aliveness and of being fully in the experience while I am doing it. I am missing my life by worshiping the idea of what my life could have been or will be when I complete what I started."

This is so true and oftentimes, we focus on the "happiness" we will achieve when we arrive at our goal only to find once we've achieved it that the satisfaction is not what we expected and we missed all the enjoyment along the way.

Live and grow each day; each day a little more "up" from where you were. Before you know it, your life is much more fulfilling and you never stressed about getting there.
Jason says ...
OK, now I'm feeling a bit creeped out. Not only does Dr. Glover know all of my deepest secrets, now Roger does too? I've become known as a guy who talks a lot but rarely takes action. My imagination is quite vivid and I use it to envision the future... a future where I've done all of the things I've talked about.

Looks like I've been doing myself a bit of a disservice by spinning my wheels planning, but not really going anywhere. Your article was truly enlightening and will prove to be quite helpful as I tackle anxiety and stop indulging my fears.
Roger says ...
Thanks, for the comments men.
When I am feel anxiety now it's getting easier to slow down and get in touch with what it is about my current situation I am resisting. Anxiety is the bodies way of saying I don't want to be here.
If the reason to move from where I am or how I am feeling "now" is a legitimate one I can take the appropriate action. If my anxiety it some unnamed fear or past memory I am apt to feel helpless.
Slowing down and naming my fear lets me either take action to return to peace of mind or call on my adult conscious mind to discern reality. By discerning the reality of any situation with my adult conscious mind I am freed from the reactive patterns of my animal instincts and my child like fears. Seeing the fear as an illusion dissolves it.
I can't wait to get us all in class support each other in living consciously and empower!
MusicSkateboardWoman says ...
Great article Roger. My discovery of mindfulness and conscious living has dramatically changed my world view, and made it more simple. This even though my life situation is more complex I feel secure in the present moment, and know that I am where I "should" be whenever I am in that state. The mind still have to be used though to create and change stuff, so I often observe myself THINKING HOW I WANT IT TO BE DIFFERENT ON AUTOPILOT. The process of dating I think suffers in my experience because I think that thinking will create it, and it will all just fall into place. The universe will just make it that way if you believe and focus on it.
This is probably a self limiting belief to keep me safe. Whenever I JUST TOOK ACTION ANYWAY I feel I learned more from 10 minutes of risk that 1 month of thinking.

guillaume says ...
Bonjour Roger,

And thank you for taking the time to write to us.
I experienced exactly the same feelings as yours. Thinking about the futur and not living in the present, feeling I am not good enough and other self-depreciating pattern.
Hopefully, I found Dr Glover books two years ago and start the breaking-free activity(s).
I play guitar a lot and want to become a professional musicien.
I had the feeling off not being good enough and I wasn't practising, I would worry about my-self, lacking confidence, asking myself : who I am to pretend to be an artist.... etc ?
By chance, and the chance come to people who seek for it I bought a book by Jamie Andreas 'the principles of correct practise for guitar" and in her last new-letter Occupy guitar strings

You will find exactly a nice-guy syndrome which she describes perfectly.
The breaking'activity and the work of Dr Glover allow me to see how my self-image was so bad and I restrained my-self to enjoy what I did sadly.

It is a life-long commitment and I am glad I took this way.
Thank you for your kind words, Roger.

Narbonne, France
Steve says ...
My man lol I agree 100%, Mr. Nix. I have lived a thousand lives and careers in my mind. I will keep reading your work now for further insight. Thank you!
Tyler Stevens says ...
Thanks for sharing about the value of persistence and patience Roger. I can relate to that as well... of course.

I want to share an easy technique that I have been experimenting with recently that is helping me to better move into regularly engaging my dreams.

I have commited to regular meditation and working out, and both of these activities have been something I have consistently commited to, jumped into deeply for a time, and then fallen out of practice due to various "reasons". For me, learning "how to commit" is as important as the commitment itself. I would jump into meditating for an hour and working out for an hour, and this would be fine for a time and I would feel good, but eventually over the days, either I experience distraction or something legitimately more important comes up and interupts my routine. Maybe for a day - maybe for several. Often, if it goes to several days of interuption, then it seems harder to get back into the routine than if I was carried on the momentum of consistent action. Then, what you described: feeling like the gap between where I am and where I want to be feels overwhelming and if I don't aggressively push back, then I fall into the dip of procrastination and we all know where that leads.

So, my experiment is thus: on day one, I do the activity for 10 minutes. I see what I can accomplish in 10 minutes. No more. No less. I let myself feel how well this benefits me. I get to feel how much it costs in terms of time, effort, and energy. I get a chance to experiment with making the most out of my time. The truth is that 10 minutes of exercise feels better to me than 0 minutes. Even though it isn't as awesome as an hour of meditation and an hour of exercise - it is still moving in a good direction vs not moving at all!

On day two, I do twenty minutes. I see greater benefits. I get hungry for more and excited to do the next day.

On day three, I do thirty each, and 30 is probably the minimum that I would prefer to do for both meditation and exercise - but certainly I have benefitted from less.

On each day after that, I add ten minutes and see what it takes to complete the whole commitment. Maybe I run the experiment to 60 minutes, maybe 120. It doesn't matter. What matters is that I actively learn more about the realities of each sort of commitment interval rather than thinking I "should be doing it just because I commited and if I don't manage 60 minutes a day, then I am a failure." I also see that there are many ways I could use my time, and this gets me more creatively engaged in both meditation and exercise.

For me, one of my truths is that, though I want to both meditate for an hour and exercise for an hour at least 6 days a week, or perhaps for longer, my life does not always cooperate with the plans I make. I might wake up and feel inspired to write first thing rather than meditate and I only have the time and space for one or the other. OR I might get overcommited for a day or a week and it wouldn't pay to approach all of my commitments rigidly. I might get sick, or I might have an emergency come up. Or maybe even I might want to just take a break... all of these things are okay to me, and what is most important is that I am doing whatever I need to do to honor the spirit of the commitment rather than rigidly abiding by a schedule.

Via experimenting with the times I practice whatever it is that I commit to each day, I can learn how to customize my commitments as life unfolds. Maybe I don't have time today to meditate for an hour before work, but do I have 30 minutes? I could use that! Maybe I don't have an available packet of time to exercise for 60 minutes straight for a day because of a heavily committed day, but do I have six 10 minute breaks I could use?

I guess I would call this a flexible way of commiting vs a rigid manner, and though there are times to make rock-solid commitments of time and energy and focus, there are times when an all-or-nothing approach would lead to nothing when a flexible approach would reap great results. Perhaps even greater than by following the same routine every day...

Thanks for sharing your insight with us all. Keep it up! ;)

Rick says ...
Thanks for the interesting article, and for all the thoughtful comments posted. I started my own company last year, and the hardest thing for me to learn has been to have patience. It takes a long time to plant seeds (make the right contacts), nurture and fertilize those seeds/contacts (build trust with clients), and then harvest the fruit (get the purchase order). All this time my mind tends to race ahead: "what if this guy never buys from me? What if I can't bring in enough revenue this month to pay the bills? Etc."

It is only when I stop my mind from these negative thoughts/fears and realize I have to remain positive and stay in the present moment, and take the necessary actions NOW, that everything will be OK THEN--because there is no then, it's always now. One must always focus on the task at hand and do it the best of one's ability. This is the only reality we have.

It is a hard lesson to learn because life IS full of distractions, and distractions tend to get us off task--that is when the fear and anxiety starts to creep in. But it is a lesson we MUST learn if we are to achieve ultimate success.