Patience is a virtue.” As most of us, you’ve likely heard this motto frequently throughout your life. Yet, while patience as a trait, is laudable, we are here to explore the various ways that this particular characteristic (and its polar opposite) can affect our career: for better or worse.

Alyse Kalish, writer and associate editor for The Muse, further researches this concept.

Effects of Impatience on Career - two people watching presentation

When Impatience Can Be Detrimental

Expecting results too quickly

An overly eager mindset can be detrimental if you’re expecting extreme results in a very short time-frame. Goals are important, but unrealistically high expectations can often result in disappointment. It’s important to remember that our most significant goals take time as well as a process of trial and error. Additionally, Kalish states that “[when] we’re impatient that something’s taking too long to get off the ground, or our careers are moving too [slowly], we never fully appreciate the small strides we make along the way”.

Reacting abruptly

When presenting coworkers and team leaders with information, it’s important to allow them enough time to process and respond accordingly. No one wants to be perceived as a “nag”, so be sure to wait a reasonable amount of time before following up.  As Kalish affirms, “In the day to day, being impatient in how you communicate will only lead people to ignore you or dislike working with you.”

Insisting on a promotion before you’re prepared

Kalish reminds employees that there are, unfortunately, certain realities of our careers that must be accepted. While we have all heard stories of a friend or colleague that received a promotion three to six months into a new job; remember this is the exception, not the norm. Kalish reiterates, “…for the most part, you shouldn’t expect a raise or promotion or some other big career opportunity before you’re truly ready for – and you’ve earned – it”.

When Impatience Can Be Helpful

You know a negative situation has dragged on too long

We are often acutely aware when something is taking much longer than it should. Perhaps you have addressed a less-than-ideal circumstance at work which was never properly resolved. Long-term issues that involve inefficiency, outdated systems or even unfair treatment will surely benefit from an increased sense of urgency. Kalish reminds readers that “…even if you can’t directly change them, you can often start productive conversations on ways to do things better”.

It leads you to take action and be helpful

If your impatience sparks you to get involved and proceed proactively, this can actually be a good thing. According to Kalish, “The people who spin their impatience into a positive thing do so by focusing on what they can do rather than what they need from others”. If you find yourself growing intolerant when a colleague seems to be lagging, consider what systems you can create — or what you can do on your own — that will help the job get done quicker.

You find ways of challenging yourself

Those who are willing to challenge to themselves are more likely to master their job duties and even take on more responsibilities at quicker rate. In this sense, as Kalish agrees, impatience can actually double as a sort of ambition. You may even find yourself learning new skills that allow you to resolve more issues on your own.

Effects of Impatience on Career - Employee at laptop with stopwatch and smartphone

In Conclusion

When channeled properly, a healthy sense of impatience can drive employees toward a more rewarding and successful career. Just remember how and when to draw the line between motivation and intolerance.

Fred Coon, CEO 

Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200