If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting the rest of our lives.
~ Lemony Snicket
I want to talk about waiting.
About why we wait to take action. Why we wait to make decisions. Why we wait to do what we need to do. I want to talk about what’s driving that, and how we can identify when we’re putting roadblocks between ourselves and success, and when waiting is exactly what we need to be doing. And how to know the difference.
Enjoy today’s show!
Hey there! Great to have you here for another show.
Before we begin, I wanted to share a brief, somewhat meta, update with you. After being asked by clients, friends and colleagues to share how I got this podcast off the ground, I decided to put together a beta program called Podcast Like a PRO to help aspiring podcasters launch their shows.
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If you’ve been thinking about capitalizing on this growing marketing platform and want the ability to share your expertise or best ideas in an intimate way (nothing more intimate than being right in someone’s earbuds right?), then contact me directly here.
Because this a beta program, starting December 7th, I don’t have a fancy sales page setup. Just email me and I’ll send you the details – I’m already excited about the women who’ve signed up so far. Let’s help you get your show on the air!
Back to today’s show.
Today I want to talk about waiting. About why we wait to take action. Why we wait to make decisions. Why we wait to do what we need to do. I want to talk about what’s driving that, and how we can identify when we’re putting roadblocks between ourselves and success, and when waiting is exactly what we need to be doing. And how to know the difference.
But first, I being with an excerpt from everyone’s beloved book, “Oh the places you’ll go” by Dr. Seuss.
You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?
And IF you go in, should you turn left or right…
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.
You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles cross weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…
…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or the waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for the wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.
That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.
With banner flip-flapping,
once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you’re that kind of a guy [gal]!
Yes! You are that kind of gal or guy. And yet…you might still find yourself waiting well beyond what seems necessary or productive.
Why is that?
Why DO we wait instead of act? Good question!
Let’s look at the five reasons we wait, and four solutions to break the waiting place pattern. And even better, because you know I love alliteration – they all begin with P.
I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt that there are times when we really do need to wait. This is purposeful waiting – it’s deliberate, intentional and grounded in your own personal power and values.
This is waiting that looks like, “I’m not going to launch my business until I have $20,000 saved up because that’s what will give our family the financial cushion we need to be ok.”
Not because you’re too scared to act, but because you’ve worked through the details, made a firm decision and are now simply waiting because it’s what’s best.
Or, this waiting looks like, “I am SO excited about this cool new idea I have but right now I’m focused on finishing and launching the two projects I’ve been working on for months. As much as I’d love to get out of the messy middle and into the fun beginning, I need to wait before I begin.”
There are times we do need to wait – when holding off is the most strategically smart thing we can do. And we know deep down the difference between waiting that comes from a grounded place, and waiting that’s masking something else.
It’s important to check in with yourself, or someone you trust, to ensure this is true. It’s very easy to convince ourselves that we are waiting purposefully when in fact another one of the P’s are at play.
Which brings me to the next four P’s of waiting. These four aren’t particularly useful to your growth, leadership or sense of well-being, but they are as common as it gets. I suspect you can see yourself in at least one of these if not all at some point along the way.
Oh how easy it is to get caught up in planning and preparation — we can plan so well and so thoroughly we can almost convince ourselves we’ve actually done the big thing we’ve mapped out. But we haven’t. We’ve simply planned to do it and that’s not the same thing as actually doing it.
If you are the person who loves to make lists or spends a lot of time researching and gathering more and more information, you can likely relate to this form of waiting.
This looks like being stuck in the perpetual “almost ready” stage. I’ve watched many clients suffer here – it’s like project purgatory – we’ve begun in our mind, but not in our actions, keeping us suspended in time.
More often than not, waiting is just a less-loaded way of saying that we’re procrastinating. We say we’re waiting because it sounds strategic and deliberate when often it’s simply that we haven’t mustered up the courage to begin.
Here’s one big payoff for procrastinating. We don’t have to do anything that will bring about rejection, failure or feedback. As long as we are in ‘waiting mode’ we are safe and cozy in our comfort zones.
When we procrastinate regularly, we let fear rule. We are more concerned with what might happen than we are with taking the risk to get started.
I had a particularly bad case of procrastination in University. I would leave essay writing until the very last minute, cranking it out in the wee hours of the morning and rushing to slip the paper under my professor’s door at the very last minute. I wore my ability to procrastinate productively (that’s what I called it) like a badge of honour.
Here’s what was REALLY going on though — by leaving my work to the very last minute, I could justify if I didn’t get a stellar grade. I’d say, “Imagine what I would have got if I hadn’t left it to the last minute”? It was a protection tool to help buffer me against failure.
But yet, it also kept me in the waiting place for weeks leading up to that last minute hustle, feeling stressed and anxious.
We want to get it just right before we begin. Have all our ducks in a row, all the T’s crossed and I’s dotted. We want to know that when we finally decide to begin, it will work as perfectly as the plan we’ve concocted in our heads.
If you set your bar at “amazing,” it’s awfully difficult to start.
I see this one play out all the time – women waiting until they feel ready (hint: you never will) and waiting until all the pieces come together in perfect harmony (hint: they never will).
This is the imposter complex running rampant in your psyche — the belief that if we don’t have it all perfect, someone will figure us out and expose us as a fraud.
The thing is, you’ll never be totally ready – and all those people you see out there making things happen don’t feel totally ready either. The difference between you and then, if you are caught up here, is that they went ahead despite the fear and imposter complex feelings. They started where they were at and trusted in their ability to grow and revise as they went.
Perfection is a myth that keeps the best ideas and brightest souls stuck and immobilized. Instead of having to know it all before you begin, embrace the student mentality – a perspective of curiosity and learning.
The most popular post I’ve ever written was called, “I give you permission” and you can find it in today’s show notes.
Why was it so popular? Because we’re always looking for someone else to tell us it’s ok to do what we really want to do. We want someone to tell us it’s ok to want what we want. We want a green light to say, “Yes, you can do this – you can go after this big, bold dream”. And we wait until we get it – and no surprise, as a result, we just keep on waiting.
As a leader, you’ve got to give yourself permission. Nobody will anoint you worthy of going after your dreams – you’ve got to claim them.
How to break out of the Waiting Place Pattern
We’ve talked a lot about the ways the waiting place pattern shows up in our lives and work. I’m sure you’ll identify with at least one of them. So let’s talk now about what we can do about it – how we can break this pattern and start to move into action – even the smallest of steps. When we act, we boost our confidence, which helps us take more action. And over time, that’s where real change begins to blossom.
Park it —
Here’s the reality – sometimes things just have to wait. As we talked about in the first P – purpose, there are times when it makes sense to park our ideas or projects until the timing is better aligned. It can be hard no doubt, especially if you’re really excited about something fresh and new, but better to park it and circle back later, than to try to action it and sabotage other things in the process.
Prioritize it —
If you’ve decided you’re ready to move beyond waiting, then you’ll need to prioritize it. We can’t make meaningful progress on anything that we don’t prioritize first.
Take a look at what you’re currently spending your time and effort on. Do you have room to add another? What might need to go to make room for this new thing? Where will you carve out space to work on this? What does success look like?
Practice it —
If you’re ready to step out, then it’s time to practice. I purposefully used the word practice over act, not only because it was another P, but also because practice gives us lots of space and permission to try as we go. We aren’t required to nail it out of the gate when we’re practicing, instead, we’re simply taking regular, bite-sized steps along the way to get us closer to where we want to go.
Pursue it —
Last, but definitely not least, you can pursue it. This is perfect for the times when you know you just need to go for it – to jump into the deep end and commit fully. This is where you take the Elizabeth Gilbert approach to fear and say, “Yes fear, you’re here – I see and hear you. You can come along for the ride, but you’re not driving and you can’t control the radio.”
Thank you again for listening. If you aren’t already a subscriber to the show, I’d love if you would pop over to Apple Podcasts or use your podcast player of choice (I happen to love Overcast) and subscribe to the show. Thank you.
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