Rest day and what better day than to read a little.
The Timing Is Never Perfect: You either take charge or you don’t
For all of the most important things, the timing always sucks. Waiting for a good time to quit your job? The stars will never align and the traffic lights of life will never all be green at the same time. — Timothy Ferris, The 4-Hour Workweek
I agree with Timothy Ferris that perfect timing to take action doesn’t exist. There’s always an excuse to put off change and the timing excuse is one of the most effective forms of active procrastination. When other excuses fall short, you can always say the timing isn’t right. Ready to quit your lame job? You hate it, but the timing’s never right, so you make the best of your two-hour commute by listening to Tony Robbins’ Personal Power, and when you complete his program maybe you’ll be pumped up enough too quit…at least you hope so. Ready to lose some fat and get strong and healthy? Nah, not yet, though you’re barely able to climb stairs, you can always take the elevator, so it’s not a priority. Maybe you’ll look into getting fit after your first heart attack. Indeed, the timing excuse covers everything and is the most popular resistance tool to change.
As much as the timing excuse is abused, it’s overly simplistic to think now is always the time to act, in spite of what’s going on in your life–it’s a little more complicated than that. Besides, if you’re not in the mindset to take action and create major change you won’t finish whatever you start; enthusiasm wanes and you can fall right back to where you were. So, yes, there is favorable timing to create change and reduce chance of failure.
How do you know when it’s time to create a major change? When the thought of things staying the same makes you sick to your stomach. After you make a change and the inevitable roadblocks come your way, your natural desire is be to go back to the way things were. As humans, we seek the path of least resistance and cling to the familiar–no matter how lame it might be–but if the thought of going back sickens you, you’ll stay the course. In my previous newsletters, I’ve described how I felt when I ran into obstacles during the first year of my training business. While things were very tough, the notion of going back to the dot com world as a business development manager was worse and gave me the impetus to continue. Contemplating working for someone else doing unrewarding work nauseated me. This was a clear sign indicating I was on the right track and as a result I was prepared to do the necessary work to make my business successful.
The bottom line? You have to be fed up with the way things are. Not slightly dissatisfied, or irritated, but completely fed up! Many people avoid getting to this point by playing the distraction game: instead of taking the time to think about what you really want, have a few drinks or watch several hours of TV; put in longer hours at work and spend the weekends digging up the yard and doing home maintenance. Basically, become too busy to notice your dissatisfaction. The distraction game is insidious and can be played all the way to your deathbed. It might be better to put your life on pause and figure out which direction you want to go.
In addition to the physiological signs that you need to make change, the mental side of the equation needs to be addressed. Sometimes you need to know you’ve covered every angle before you’re mentally ready to move forward, otherwise you’ll always look back and wonder if you really gave it your all. In a previous business, I tried everything to make my business work: I handed out thousands of business cards and put up fliers and signs on telephone polls all over town. I used surveys, newspaper ads, tons of other things, and finally, mail-order marketing. I was fed up with this business before I tried mail-order marketing and, in fact, I was ready to quit. Then, a good friend of mine, also in the business, told me of a new mail-order marketing method he was working on. As much as I wanted out of the business, I still had to try his strategy, more to clear my conscience than anything else. Of course it didn’t work out, which ended up being a good thing, but I knew with complete certainty I’d given everything I had and it wasn’t going to work. While some might find such cognizance depressing, to me it was liberating: I knew once and for all this business wasn’t for me. This critical realization needs to come forth before productive change takes place. If I’d quit before perceiving this, I’d probably still be wondering if I couldn’t have done a something different to make it work. This kind of reminiscing wastes time, preventing you from taking advantage of the present. Sometimes you need to get something completely out of your system before moving on with a clear conscience.
Another mental obstacle to overcome is thinking you’ve failed when you quit something. From early on we’re instructed not to be quitters. While this, in spirit, is commendable, the reality is that many things are worth quitting. If you start a new job and hate it after a month, why stick around for a year? If a new relationship bogs down within a few months, will it improve in a year? If your training program requires a lot of time and work yet you only get weaker, do you really think you’ll see a turnaround by sticking it out? Being quit-adverse also relinquishes responsibility to others. For example, instead of quitting the job you hate, wait to be fired so you can finally pursue your desired career. Or, instead of breaking up your habitual relationship, wait for your partner to do it, even though you wanted to move out–and on–a long time ago. Quitting isn’t always bad, and may be exactly what’s needed in order to move forward, but you’ll need to get over any guilt feelings that come with it.
When they can no longer recycle excuses regarding perfect timing, people will create bad timing. Blowing money unnecessarily works well: buy a new car, maybe a flat-screen TV, then take an expensive vacation and you’ll no longer have any financial reserve, which means fewer options. Make no mistake: money provides options and the ability to take greater financial risk. But now you can’t quit your wretched job since you need the money! The bottom line? Our behavior determines our outcome: if you’re not prepared to sacrifice, you’re not prepared to make major changes. You’re simply not ready and perhaps you’ll never be ready. Change doesn’t take place just when you think it’s a nice idea–you have to make it happen, or it happens to you.
There’s no “perfect” time to do any important thing in life, but there are indicators that you’re ready for change and ready to advance on your goals with a clear conscience. Don’t distract yourself from life or allow yourself to get fed up with external circumstances in order to make the changes you can stick with. Get over the idea that being a quitter is synonymous with being a loser and you’ll save yourself time and energy. Finally, before attempting to make any major change, ask yourself–what’s the worst that can happen? If you can deal with the answer, then what’s holding you back?
Great photo from by Mike Mahler’s friend Nazo. Check out her website at http://www.orangekettlebellclub.com/