How much time, or how much of our lives, for that matter, do we spend waiting?
I’d venture to say…a lot.
Waiting creeps its way into the minutiae of our everyday lives, creating innocent lulls in activity while waiting in line for coffee or at a traffic light. Waiting tends to wriggle its way between us and bigger life decisions like waiting for the “right time” to leave a job, or a relationship, that has left us feeling burnt out or unfulfilled.
It’s safe to say we’ve become really good at waiting.
Cue the proverbial phrase, “patience is a virtue”.
While I don’t disagree with that statement, it can be difficult to discern the difference between when waiting is appropriate, exercising (the ever so) virtuous patience, versus when waiting serves as an excuse or shield from dealing with our own reality.
What if the right time never comes?
“Well, I’m waiting for the ‘right time…'”
We’ve all uttered these words at some point, haven’t we?
There’s balance to be struck between approaching decision-making in a thoughtful and methodical manner and becoming a victim of the “right time” fallacy. I’m not dismissing the idea that there are certain variables that may need to fall into place before “X” can happen in your life, but is it not fair to say that we can easily fall into the trap of letting days/weeks/months/years pass by, continuing to wait for the “right time” to actively pursue something we want or need?
Can we acknowledge and accept that, in many cases, there is never a “right time” to pursue what we want/need?
Waiting will dictate your life, if you let it
So, how can we identify when we use the “right time” as a stalling mechanism or excuse to not pursue our wants/needs, most especially those that elicit feelings of uncertainty, discomfort or fear?
Consider the following if you find that you’ve developed a pattern of saying you’re waiting for the “right time” to pursue something you want/need:
- Check your perspective: write down a list of your wants/needs. When reviewing your list, ask how each of the items make you feel. Does pursuing that particular want/need make you feel energized and positive? Does it make you feel anxious? Having a real understanding of your own relationship between you + your wants/needs can help inform why you may be crafting your own barriers that are preventing you from moving forward
- Re-evaluate priority and practicality: draw a grid with “practicality” on one axis and “priority” on the other axis. Start to place those wants/needs on the grid. For instance, some wants/needs may be placed in the high practicality/high priority quadrant. Other wants/needs may fall into the low practicality/low priority quadrant. Knowing both the practicality and priority status of your wants/needs will help reinforce their importance and feasibility.
- Identify roadblocks: starting with the high practicality/high priority items, start to write down what barriers you find are preventing you from securing these wants/needs.
- Remove roadblocks: for your high and medium priorities that are at least moderately practical, create actionable plans to start removing said barriers to achieving your wants/needs.
- Just do it: follow your detailed, actionable plan
- Have a plan B: some people believe that having a backup or contingency plan means you lack faith in your abilities to realize your wants/needs. I diagree. Be realistic. Refer back to your practicality/priority grid and look for items to either eliminate (e.g. low practicality/low priority) or shift quadrants. For items that are high priority/medium practicality, for instance, develop alternative options in the event your original plan of action falls through.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts!