Everybody makes excuses for themselves they wouldn’t be prepared to make for other people.
As an Ontological coach of business leaders, I often hear the following:
- Best to wait till we exceed our sales goal next quarter to ask for a promotion/raise.
- I’ll stay in this relationship until ___ and then I’ll make my move.
- I need to wait until I have X amount of money saved up to start my own business.
- I don’t have all the information, so I’ll hold off on making a decision.
- It will make more sense if I stay one more year prior to leaving my job.
- I’ll hold off investing in my leadership/team/self until ____ happens.
I’m sure you can think of many instances when you told yourself “the pieces don’t seem to fit together” or “I’m going to wait until the pieces align and then I’ll make my move.” Don’t worry, procrastination is more common than you think. According to brandongaille.com, 1 out of 5 people procrastinate so badly that it may be jeopardizing their jobs, their credit, their relationships and even their health.
What do all the statements above have in common? A heck of a lot of tolerating and suffering.
And what does procrastination create? A waiting game of sorts – hold off until all the puzzle pieces show up and fit seamlessly together.
The bad news first: there is no puzzle
Waiting for circumstances or timing to be “perfect”… for the stars to align and signs to show up… is a way our minds rationalize not taking chances. We look at life like a puzzle and frame it like a game: given enough time, we know we can figure out the next move and protect ourselves from the potential fall out (aka, failure) and WIN. And to some extent, we’re smart enough to do so. Humans have occupied Earth for over 200,000 years, and we deserve some credit… we’ve survived some major shit. We’ve been conditioned to protect ourselves when opportunity arises. With the potential for pain… we choose to protect ourselves with safety, comfort… and the ever so powerful excuse (translation: lots of time and rationalization).
Rationalization is a process of not perceiving reality,
but of attempting to make reality fit one’s emotions.
~ Ayn Rand
The things is… we’re just… human
It’s normal to feel frustration and confusion when life throws us a curve-ball. The key is to recognize our rationalization.
It may sound new age-y and ‘soft’ to some – but turns out, it’s difficult for many people to ‘feel’ their feelings. It’s not exclusive to what Hollywood actors portray in the many films we watch: feelings are messy and complicated. Often it’s easier to put them in a box and throw them into the back of the closet or to reason with yourself: you’re being ridiculous, your feelings aren’t justified here, there’s no way I’ll make partner, get the promotion, win the business, start the business – I don’t deserve it. Many find it’s simpler to get on living our lives, leading our teams, building our businesses and… wait. “The pieces will come together eventually.”
While we’re waiting for those pieces to magically appear, we don’t have to make a choice, take the leap, move things forward. We can stay in… limbo.
And trust me when I tell you, ain’t nuthin’ going down in limbo-land.
The good news: life is a playground
Turns out – building a business, leading a company, building a family, creating a lasting partnership – these are never ending, arduous journeys. Journeys of shifting, evolving storylines complete with dimly lit alleys, devastating edges… the unknown around every bend. There is no “end game” to life, no magic time when we fit that last piece in perfectly and ta-dah – we’re finished! Que balloons and fireworks!
Imagine constantly trying to pull together a puzzle where the pieces keep changing. There is simply no chance of ‘figuring it out’.
You get to create how this plays out
As human beings we desperately want to see the whole, the end game. We want the answers. And we want it all to play out perfectly.
Life, leadership, love… isn’t mapped out that way. The pieces we so desperately desire? YOU get to create and mold them.
So, what do we do?
- The first step is recognizing the context within which we hold ourselves. Do you feel there is a ‘right/wrong’ way of leading your company or living your life? Are you waiting for someone or something to tell you what to do? Who to be? How or when to leave your current job? To ‘give’ you the promotion, the ‘out’, the opportunity? Notice this way of being… stop choosing to be a Victim on YOUR own Playground.
- Talk it out. It can feel lonely in Puzzleland. Make a phone call to someone you trust – who will be a powerful listener and provide ‘no strings attached’ support. Release the fear. Ask for what you need, Acknowledgement? A nudge? Support in making a pro/con list? A good glass of bubbly? You’re not alone.
- Finally, accept that The Land of Unexpected exists. This is easier said than done, I know (seriously). But every day you step out into the Land of the Unknown when you leave your home. And every day you return. Playing in the Unknown is something you can work on every day, a little at a time. Simply taking a couple deep breaths not only lowers your blood pressure, but it helps clear your mind before taking that next step.
Ready for more play less stress? More flow less force? I’m game. Send me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please connect with me on my website or on Facebook to ask a question or inquire about powerful coaching opportunities.
Molly Rudberg is an executive coach and mindfulness junkie for high performing human beings and teams looking to get out of their own way. Co-author of FROM THE YOGA MAT TO THE CORNER OFFICE – A MINDFUL APPROACH TO BUSINESS SUCCESS