There are many reasons why we put off doing certain things, and many times those reasons seem to make sense. This week I’m encouraging us all to rethink those reasons, and suggesting that maybe we don’t wait.
My advice this week to us all: don’t wait
Follow-up from last week
Last week I shared some questions we could ask ourselves regularly to boost our productivity. After I published the episode, I thought of another good question that I’ve been asking myself, and wanted to share it with you. It’s this: What can I let go of today?
This applies in so many ways:
What possessions can I let go of to make my home tidier, fresher, more relaxing, and to free up time spent maintaining and cleaning? As I eat my lunch or walk through the house or sit at my desk, can I look around and find one thing I can put into the donation box I keep in the garage: one piece of decor I don’t really love, one kitchen utensil or appliance I never use, one article of clothing that I don’t feel confident in, one worn towel or sheet set, one book I’ve finished?
What habit can I let go of that doesn’t serve me or those I love? Mindlessly scrolling social media? Binging on junk food when I’m stressed or sad? Staying up too late at night so it’s hard to get up in the morning?
What commitment can I let go of? A standing meeting that serves no purpose? A club or organization that doesn’t have the same meaning now that it did when I signed up? A committee or office I only said yes too because I didn’t know how to say no?
What burden can I let go of? What old resentment or worry or fear or shame or judgment can I finally let go of and replace with a healthier, happier perspective? This might be one of the best questions we can ask ourselves each day: what can I let go of today?
I’d love to know your thoughts on this one. But that’s not the subject of this week’s episode . . .
Don’t wait to do the things that make a life that truly matters
Last week Mike and I traveled to Michigan to visit our youngest son. At the airport, waiting for our return flight home, I flipped through a magazine I’d grabbed at the newsstand and read an article I’ve been thinking about ever since.
The article, written by Erica Finamore, who is identified as the Home Director at Real Simple, was titled “Use Your Good Stuff Every Day.” She wrote about growing up in a home with “lots of pretty things . . . that were only to be used on ‘special occasions.’ The fine china was brought out strictly for Thanksgiving, and the crystal vase . . . sat on our baker’s rack collecting dust.” She tells how when she got married, she followed that same approach: their beautiful wedding-gift china and silverware was put away for special occasions that never came, because only a few months after the wedding her husband was diagnosed with an incurable brain cancer from which he died before their third wedding anniversary.
What she writes next is what I’ve been thinking about since reading it at the airport: After his death, she says, “I looked at those untouched things and realized we’d been saving them for a day that never came. Why hadn’t we swapped out our hodgepodge flatware [for the beautiful silverware set they’d received as a wedding gift] or toasted with those delicate glasses? Why didn’t we drag out the fancy coffee machine to fuel us on all those tough days? I realized, too late, that just being together was reason enough to use the good stuff.”
She ends the article with words that we all should take to heart:
“It sounds cheesy, but tomorrow isn’t guaranteed for any of us, so every day we’re here is worth celebrating–and worthy of matching stemware too.”
Maybe it’s because as I’ve reached my early 60s I’ve become more and more aware of the brevity of life, but her words really spoke to me. And I’ve recognized in my own life the cost of waiting for a special occasion or the perfect moment . . . none of which might ever occur.
- I have a set of heirloom china that was given to us when we married . . . in 1979. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve used it. Waiting for a special occasion, then afraid to get it out of the china cabinet because it might get broken.
- I own stacks of special notebooks and fine paper I love but don’t use because I don’t want to “waste” them–waiting for just the right use . . . which never comes.
- A blouse I bought that’s so pretty and looks good on me . . . haven’t worn it yet, because I’m waiting for the “right” occasion.
But using our “special occasion” stuff isn’t the only thing we wait for.
What we wait for
- The “right” time to do certain things: take a day off, have a baby, change jobs, start our new health or fitness approach, . . .
- To be “ready” to launch our business or podcast or apply for that dream job or start a family . . .
- To have the body we want before buying new clothes
- To have enough time — to write that book or do those crafts or go back to school or get together with friends or family
- To be happy . . . when we finish school, when we meet the right person, when we have a child, when our kids are grown and on their own, when we get the right job, when we have enough money in the bank, when we retire . . .
Why we wait
- Fear (of failure, of loss, of judgment)
- Sense of inadequacy or unworthiness
- Belief that things will be different, maybe “better,” down the road, or that we’ll have more time then, or conditions will be more favorable
- Psychology Today article, writer notes: “As humans we tend to be aiming or striving for something — our perfect life; our Utopia. Of course there is no such thing. We will not eventually ‘arrive’ and ‘have it all.” [from What Are You Waiting For?]
That same writer in the Psychology Today article cautions us:
“If we are always waiting ‘until’ then we are very rarely in the present enjoying what life has to offer. It is important to recognise what you have when you have it, in order that you can enjoy this.” She goes on to say, “It is about enjoying the journey, not waiting for the destination.”
Don’t wait to start. Whatever it is you’ve dreamed of doing “someday,” go ahead and start. Decide to do one small thing today toward that “someday” project. Even if the circumstances don’t seem ideal, you can improve them as you go along. If you don’t know enough, you can learn as you go. If you don’t feel ready–know that you likely never will. Just take the leap anyway.
A quote I saw on Pinterest says it well:
“Don’t wait. The time will never be just right. Start where you are, and work with the tools you have and better tools will be found as you go along.”
Don’t wait to use your “good” dishes or notebooks or table linens or towels. Get them out today and use them. Eat lunch on the good china. Set the table with the fancy tablecloth or placemats. Drink milk out of your best stemware. Dry yourself off with the new towels. And share all of these with the people you love.
Don’t wait to lose weight before buying clothes you love and feel good in. And don’t for the “perfect” occasion to wear your prettiest clothes. Dress up for dinner at home with the family–or alone. Wear them every day–and get rid of the ones you don’t love!
Don’t wait until all your work is done before you take a day off or take time for yourself. Your work will never be all done. Make time now to rest, to pursue that hobby or interest that lights you up, or take a vacation.
Don’t wait to call that friend you’re thinking of, or your mom, or your sister. We literally never know when it will be too late to have one more meaningful conversation with those people you love. (I think of what Harry must feel, arriving 15 minutes after his grandmother, the Queen, died.)
Don’t wait to say I love you.
Don’t wait to celebrate–even the smallest of events can be worthy of celebration
A beautiful sunny day or the first (or 15th) snowfall of the year
- A Wednesday!
- A good parking spot
- A child’s lost tooth
- Checking the last item of the day’s to-do list
- As someone has said, “Don’t wait for the perfect moment. Take the moment and make it perfect!”
Don’t wait to be happy. Whatever you think you need to be happy, . . . you don’t. That event or change or person or situation you’ve been imagining, thinking, “I’ll be so happy when . . .” — the truth is, even if you get everything you’ve ever wished for, even if it all plays out exactly as you’d dreamed, you won’t be any happier then than you are now.
As the writer on Tiny Buddha has said:
“Don’t wait for things to get easier, simpler, better. Life will always be complicated. Learn to be happy right now. Otherwise, you’ll run out of time.”
Instead of waiting until some future event or condition occurs, we can choose to be happy today, by looking for the good in our current life and celebrating it. We can look forward to the future even while paying attention to all we have to be grateful for today and enjoying the people and experiences currently in our lives.
One last quote to share, that I hope will encourage you as much as it does me. I’m not sure who said it–I found it online without attribution–but it’s a good reminder for us all: “Don’t wait until it’s too late to realize how precious life is. Your life begins right now, when you stop waiting for a better one. One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now!”
What do you think?
What are you waiting for? What can you do today (not tomorrow) to end the wait? Post your suggestions in the comments section below or in The Productive Woman Community Facebook group, or email me.
Resources and Links
- Real Simple
- What Are You Waiting For? | Psychology Today
- What Are You Waiting For? Improvement Starts Now | Success4
- 25 Ways to Be Happier Now — Best Life
- Be Happy Now! Tips to be Happy with What You’ve Got
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