“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.” — Joseph Campbell, American mythologist, writer and lecturer
“What would you do,” she asked, “if you won the lottery?”
“The odds of that are pretty low,” I replied. “A snowflake’s chance, as they say.”
“People still win,” she stated. “You hear about them all the time and occasionally see a picture posted in a gas station.” She held her hands out in front of her as if framing a print. “Bob won a million dollars at this gas station! You could be next. So it does happen.”
“I guess I’d pay off my mortgage,” I said, “help out my friends and family.”
“I’d finally start living,” she declared. “No more waiting and wishing!”
My friend may have been joking (or not) but there are people who are waiting for something, anything to happen so they can finally start living.
There are others still who believe conditions must be perfect before action can be taken. It’s fine to have a confident expectation of good things, but that alone will not ensure success or happiness.
For years, I harboured the notion that something amazing was destined to happen to me – something that would set me apart from the crowd. I just had to wait, be patient and the amazing thing would eventually manifest.
After years of busying myself with work and family obligations, of distracting myself with any number of activities, I realized the amazing thing was unlikely to happen without help from me.
Life will not wait for you to start living it! “Life is what happens to you,” wrote John Lennon, “while you’re busy making other plans.” While some people are out in the real world slaying dragons, others still are waiting at home for a free suit of armour to arrive in the mail. For them, waiting has become a way of life. For these folks, enjoying life must wait until they earn more money, have less debt, get married (or divorced), have children or the children finally leave home. Some people even put off getting healthy until they feel healthier!
Many of us wait for recognition, to be discovered, to feel safe, to get inspired or become enlightened before taking action. I know people who are always waiting for the next guru, workshop or self-help breakthrough before beginning the journey of self-esteem building. They wait out of fear and an unfounded belief that someone else holds the answers to their life purpose.
Some wait for the right time and, certainly, timing is an important element of any successful enterprise.
There is, however, a vast difference between strategically waiting for the right opportunity to act and forestalling action out of a fear of failure. The problem lies in a desire many of us have to be someone, something or somewhere other than who, what or where we are at the moment.
Putting off, delaying or deferring action can be crippling on many levels. If you’ve been living a life that’s on simmer, then the time has come to crank up the heat.
First of all, let go of the notion that all conditions must be ideal before you can begin implementing positive change in your life — most of your learning and growing happens as a result of doing. Don’t expect to get everything right the first time: practice makes perfect. Be willing to make mistakes. It’s still the best way to learn and retain information. As a general rule of thumb, it takes 21 days to instill a new habit and effectively break an old one. Old habits and ways of thinking are engrained – allow yourself some time — refrain from being overly critical.
Eliminate distractions. They occupy your time, divert your attention and delay progress on matters of importance. Learn to recognize activities that fill up your day, but not your life.
Focus on the bigger picture. Working with an end result in mind can be a powerful way to stay focused and motivated — it will also curb your tendency to procrastinate. It’s easy to lose focus and momentum when a goal is enormous, so break big tasks down into tasty bite-sized chunks. Taking on a big project one chunk at a time will help you remain engaged and on track.
Get into the habit of taking immediate action. Address tasks as they arise. You’ll notice that you get more accomplished with less effort. Before you know it, the task will be accomplished and you’ll be on to the next. This will lessen a tendency you might have to overthink things.
You are wiser than you imagine. As you work on building your self-esteem and learn to trust your intuition, you will discover you already have answers to many of your questions. While others can provide you with insights, information and advice, it is you alone who must take action.
As American humourist Oliver Wendell Holmes once wrote, “Many people die with their music still inside them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out.”
Something amazing is waiting for you: your life. Why not start living it today?
“Step aside, non-believers, ‘cause I’m going to make it rain!”
Murray Fuhrer is a local self-esteem expert and facilitator. His new book is entitled Extreme Esteem: The Four Factors. For more information on self-esteem, check the Extreme Esteem website at www.extremeesteem.ca