The Myth of The Perfect Time

by Crystal on May 5, 2009

istock_000001063826xsmallHave you ever put off doing something until the time was right?

I’ve been guilty of it – I think we all have. The procrastination demon has a good following these days, but how do you know whether that little internal voice that insists that “now just isn’t a good time to do it” is tapped into some kind of unseen wisdom (intuition) or whether it’s part of you that doesn’t want to face the consequences of taking action?

Truth is, there’s no easy answer. There’s no way of knowing if it’s one, the other, both or even neither. But what has to be borne in mind is that every decision to postpone something that you know needs to be done, will only make it harder to take action.

Einstein put it in scientific terms; we generally call it ‘inertia’. Something sitting still, not moving in any way, is so much harder to get moving than something that already has a bit of momentum going – even if the moving object is heavier than the still one!

Not all of us can just jump straight into the pool, I know, so part of your ‘not now’ voice could just be reluctance to take action that doesn’t fit with your way of working. If that’s the case, is there a way you can do a little something towards that dreaded outcome, even if you don’t take the full plunge, just so that progress isn’t entirely stalled? Dip the toe in the water or start walking down the steps?

Or is it time for you to hold your nose, squeeze your eyes shut and jump?

Taking action can be scary, especially if you’re afraid of what might result from it. The biggest actions we face, the ones that have the potential to drastically improve our lives, will always have a flip side that means there’s the potential for equally dramatic pain if it goes wrong. Relationship questions, job questions, money questions – these are all big issues that can tap into deep fears and paralyse you from doing things you know you should. We justify these fears by never admitting to ourselves that we’re not intending to take action – but we put it away from us with the excuse that now isn’t the right time.

For a lot of things – especially the big, daring actions I already mentioned, the ones that can change your life, there never will be a perfect time. The test of taking action is whether you find the courage to act DESPITE the things you’re afraid might happen. You need to be prepared to face your fears and say “well, if that happens to me, I’ll still survive. I’ll still have my life/health/relationships/whatever and I can get myself back to where I am now – what the heck, I’m going for it!

One of my favourite quotes is attributed to Goethe (it’s really from W. H. Murray in The Scottish Himalaya Expedition, 1951 where he quotes the last two lines which are from Goethe)

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back– Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

Bottom line: if you want big results, you need to take big actions. Big actions will NEVER have a perfect time, you have to make them happen. So, the best results come from letting go of your fears and simply going for it.

What are you waiting to make happen?

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