I have recently discovered a rather nasty habit; I call it nasty because I really don’t like it and it adds nothing to my life but anxiety and stress.

I check my watch. Constantly.

Sometimes, you can find comfort in the fact that, if you do your habit often enough in public, the conscious or unconscious public recrimination will make you confront the habit and force you to change or stop. Or maybe you don’t, but you will continue with a guilty conscience.

This, however, isn’t the case; in fact, the more I look around, the more I see that almost everyone has this habit, manifested in much worse ways.

We live in a society that, above all, cherishes efficiency, maximizing the value of time, or so we rationalize our efforts. Efficiency drives the pace of our lives, and is why everyone seems to always need to be somewhere, why Google calendars or agendas look more like colorful checkerboards than actual organizational tools.

There can be no greater sin than wasted time — than wasting the one unrenewable resource which we can’t really control. Efficiency is why I check my watch. Constantly.

We can acknowledge, and rightfully so, that efficiency lies at the very core of progress. It makes sense that we seek to simplify our lives, spend less time or effort on things so that we can do more things. It’s a good thing.

But in the midst of our bing enamored with efficiency, with seeking to squeeze the most out of every second, we lose sight of something equally if not more valuable to understanding how to truly maximize the value of our lives.


It’s truly rare to see patience, and even harder to live it. And it makes sense, because think about it: there’s something empowering about dictating on what you spend your time. You have control; things happen how you want them to.

Being patient requires you to relinquish that. In fact, patience asks you to have faith — faith that assures you when things don’t go how you want them to, when you can’t control time. That isn’t a bad thing. Not having control is OK.
Easier said than done, huh?

But why? Why are we so eager to call ourselves people of faith, and yet remain incredibly reluctant to embrace patience? Wouldn’t that allow us to be more accepting of things that aren’t in our power?

A quote I heard a long time ago about patience, by Joyce Meyer, a New York Times bestselling author and founder of Joyce Ministries Inc., remains a telling and impactful observation about this paradox.

“I believe that a trusting attitude and a patient attitude go hand in hand. You see, when you let go and learn to trust God, it releases joy in your life. And when you trust God, you’re able to be more patient. Patience is not about waiting for something … it is about how you wait, or your attitude while waiting,” wrote Meyer.

In our persistent desire to rush to our next meeting or accomplish our next “to-do,” we forget about elements that make us willing to “have faith” and believe in something beyond ourselves. We can and should change that.

How? Well, that will depend on you. It’s unreasonable to believe we will all suddenly transform into zen-like, patience-filled individuals; that, however, takes nothing away from my firm belief that genuine effort to improve our patience reflects a greater willing to trust, believe and have faith in something beyond ourselves.

So, yes, I do have this nasty habit of checking my watch. I do base much of my daily activity on efficiency. Patience isn’t exactly the first personal virtue that comes to mind. But that will change, and though I may never eliminate this habit, the change in attitude will hopefully lead me in the right direction.

(Espino, a 2011 graduate of Marquette University High School, Milwaukee, is studying economics at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. His home parish is St. Vincent de Paul, Milwaukee. Email him at fespino@college.harvard.edu)