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Being Impatient Isn’t Intrinsically Bad

BOULDER, CO - MAY 6: 27-year-old Garston Tremblay, a developer, enjoys a bowl of cereal at his desk while at work at Rally Software Development in Boulder. Tremblay's job reflects the growth of jobs for the Millennial generation in Colorado on Tuesday, May 6, 2014. (Denver Post Photo by Cyrus McCrimmon)

Though we regard patience as a virtue, impatience isn’t always a bad thing.

The “good” aspects of impatience are usually praised under the guise of different terms — prudence, efficiency, innovation — but it all boils down to the same idea: Millennials want to see results, and they want to see them right now.

Redefining impatience

Impatience is a precursor of change. Millennials, in particular, are impatient because they don’t have faith in the systems that are already functioning.

As The Wall Street Journal points out, millennials aren’t impatient because they lack self-control; millennials press for higher pay and better opportunities because they’re “prudent.”

This form of impatience certainly carries its downsides, as some people see it as pushy and impulsive, but it certainly boasts benefits. Millennials are willing to work hard, they just won’t sell themselves short, and part of that is their refusal to accept empty promises. They don’t trust the people and the corporations that are in charge, and in many cases, you can’t blame them.

Millennials also use their impatience to fuel innovation. Progress and change come about when there is a need for change, and millennials aren’t afraid to address their needs.

Without impatience, we wouldn’t have millennial-driven apps such as Uber, but we also wouldn’t have fast food, or fast wireless internet, or overnight package delivery.

All of these things were regarded as products of impatience when they first came about, but that certainly doesn’t mean they’re frivolous.

As Morgan Housel of Collaborative Fund writes, “Millennials just have no tolerance for inefficiency.” Though Housel distinguishes that impatience is bad, and efficiency is good, I believe that impatience is a complex quality.

Emotional impatience vs workplace impatience

Google splits its definition of impatience into two vastly different prongs.

The first one is more of an emotional impatience. It’s used to describe a person who is easily provoked, irritable and short-tempered.

The second definition, however, is used to describe someone who is “restlessly eager.” This is what I classify as workplace impatience.

People would rarely label themselves as impatient in a job interview, but people who are workplace-impatient tend to rebrand themselves as “go-getters.” These workers are inherently restless and they don’t relax in the face of anxiety or boredom, instead they choose to find solutions for an endless list of problems.

Though emotional impatience is certainly a weakness, workplace impatience seems to be a positive quality, it’s just usually called something more flattering.


It’s easy to label things simply, calling them good or bad, but many qualities are more complex than that.

Impatience has such a negative reputation that we actively avoid using it to describe anything good, choosing instead to disguise its positive qualities within other terms.

But impatience doesn’t have to be taboo. It’s a word that can be reclaimed by millennials as they prove that they can do everything, not only faster, but better.

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Header image: Getty Images

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