I love it that so many of you respond to my writings. It’s fun to hear your perspectives. Do keep it up!
In response to my What’s Wrong With Waiting article Brenda wrote, “waiting to me sounds like ‘delaying.'” I understand her point. There is a difference between waiting and procrastinating. So what is it?
Are Waiting and Procrastinating the Same?
My intention in the WWWW article was to show the importance of slowing down and being mindful in our daily lives, to point us toward becoming one with the natural flow of life instead of forcing things—like waiting for an opening in a line of traffic that we can naturally merge into rather than forcing it because we don’t want to wait, or pausing a few seconds longer to hold a door open for someone rather than rushing through to our next important thing. I’ve done, and not done, both of those.
Waiting Opens the Way for Presence
I’ve noticed that waiting in this way keeps me present to what is around me. Instead of merely looking for a break in traffic I’m aware of the pace and flow of traffic, the looks on the drivers’ faces, the natural breaks that are opening and closing. Instead of rushing through the door I’m aware that there are others around me with whom I can practice kindness. It’s a very different way of looking at the world that I’ve been used to. I’m learning to choose the slower pace.
To Do or Not to Do?
But there is a difference between that kind of waiting and sheer procrastination. To Brenda’s point there are things that need attention now and waiting/delaying them will do more harm than good. If you are in the process of creating your post-divorce future a lot of things will seem daunting—there are so many things we don’t know how to do as a single—you may be tempted to avoid them altogether. But… as Brenda says, with some things you have to “Just do it!”
How Can We Know the Difference Between Waiting and Procrastinating?
I suggest using waiting as a tool. If you don’t know whether to buy a house or rent one, or to get that job or this one, waiting for the answer to arise naturally can be a godsend. Here is a simple little exercise that I like: the good ole pros and cons list. Write the pros of each choice and the cons of each in columns on a paper. As you review them, check in with your heart and body, not just your head to figure out which choice feels right. (Don’t just think it through. The best way I know to stay stuck is to rely solely on your head to make a decision.) See what feelings arise. That’s the waiting part. Do you feel anxious at one choice but not the other? Does your heart beat faster? Do you get excited? Does one bring a sense of peace? Do you feel you’re honoring yourself more if you go one way or another?
But don’t wait too long to make the choice. That’s the procrastination part. If you’re honest with yourself you will know if you are avoiding a decision. If you know you’re avoiding then just choose one. Yes. Just choose. Don’t fall into analysis paralysis! Sometimes we make the best decision and sometimes we make the best of the decision we make. Either way it’s better than remaining in limbo. I always liked the saying that God cannot give direction to a parked car. Once you’re moving you can change direction, but you have to get your foot off the brake first.
Is It a Fear?
Refusing to make a decision in a reasonable amount of time means you’re dealing with a fear. I’ve been there and done that for sure. If our response to any problem is not pro-active (as opposed to retreating), we are dealing with a fear. Waiting is not the solution to fear, action is. We have to push through a fear. Do whatever it takes, including hiring a third party, enlisting a kick ass friend, or taking a class if that’s what it takes to make the breakthrough. Fears are content to hang out in your life forever, don’t let them.
Life is short. Sometimes waiting won’t get us where we want to go in the limited time we have on planet earth. When it comes to creating a life we love we mustn’t delay. There’s too much at stake. It’s also true that we can take the time to be with the ebb and flow of life and wait for answers and direction to arise naturally. Thank you Brenda for helping me point out the difference.