Knowing when to act and when to wait.

April 18, 2018

As an individual, or as a leader, knowing when to make a decision and step into action or when to wait until the opportunity or the idea is ripe is the difference between ease and struggle, between success and...something else.  

 

When you get an idea to do something, do you forge ahead with great gusto?  That's a great thing...if you're ready for it, or your audience is, and if you have the space to pursue this action.  If you find that you're challenged by more than just the logistics, strategy, or action plan, it's quite possible that what you need to do is simply...wait!  ("Impossible!", you think?)

 

Sometimes waiting means waiting for (and working towards) clarity. Other times more data needs to be gathered and analyzed. Or it may mean taking something off your plate so that you have more bandwidth. Sometimes, maddeningly, you may feel raring to go, but others with whom you will be working or who will be involved are not yet ready, or circumstances haven't shifted sufficiently for the idea or initiative to be pursued with ease, speed, and an open course ahead.  

 

Waiting is the opposite of what we've been heavily conditioned into feeling comfortable with, isn't it?  And in the last decade, or even since the the millennium began, it seems that everything

is moving much faster than it used to.  Tools like instant messaging, group communication apps, and texting that were developed to help us be more effective are also pressuring and overwhelming us to hurry up and be immediately responsive. The desire and impatience to have everything "yesterday" makes us feel that if we aren't making swift progress with something, we're failing. 

 

Waiting, or what we think of as waiting, is hard! So we push and strive to figure out what we think we need to do or know to achieve our end-result, not realizing that what could really help us is the patience that comes from waiting, the solidifying of clarity, the evolution of trends, attitudes, scenarios, or circumstances. While we might believe that windows of opportunity threaten to  close, if we haven't allowed enough time for our idea to germinate, or our decision to "marinate", or gathered adequate data, or accessed our intuition, or just maintained patience, we'll probably end up with a lot of frustration and wasted effort (and possibly expense). You may have a few unhappy or embarrassing examples from your own life that illustrate this point!

 

It's reassuring to know that waiting isn't necessarily doing absolutely nothing. (Phew!!) Often, when we're waiting for our ideas to gel or our choices to be more apparent or the optimal space for decisions and doing, there's a lot of activity going on that we don't recognize, but is essential. 

 

Waiting, of course, isn't an excuse to do nothing (though it definitely could be in the right circumstances)!  It's likely you already know what you're ready to do but are simply putting off, versus what you're actively struggling to do and not making progress with. So here are a few effective waiting strategies to experiment with:

 

1. Let off steam: the pressure you're feeling probably isn't helping your creativity or forward movement.  If it's not something that's urgent, but simply important, relieving the pressure you put on yourself can help immensely, creating a sense of ease and flow. Give yourself a day or two, or a week, depending on the situation...even a few months can make an immense difference in some circumstances (just ask me!!). 

 

2. Journal.  Simply sit down with a notebook or in front of a computer and write about your challenge or idea. Regularly! This helps with whatever questions are unresolved or plans that are unclear. 

 

3. Access resources.  When you surround yourself with resources (information, people, support - perhaps including a coach) that pertain to what you're trying to make progress with your path may become more easily apparent, especially if you're locked into a mindset that is blocking you. 

 

4. Engage in a breakthrough activity. Walking in nature, taking a bath, engaging in sport or exercise, creating any kind of art, helps you easily access the inner state that allows you to solve the unsolvable, finish that project, or make a decision that's sound.

     

 I’d love to hear from you with your thoughts about and experiences with this idea, if you’d care to share them with me.

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