“I love to wait!” said no one, EVER. And yet, we can’t seem to a avoid it.
We check our emails on the hour (or minutes) for responses from agents, editors, and casting directors. We stare at our phones (and test the connection), willing them to ring with news of that hard earned promotion or the house of our dreams. We pace our floors (or pound our heads) waiting for test results and customer service, plumbers and computer techs, heartthrobs and children. And no matter how fast we work or how efficiently we manage our affairs, every series of actions seems to be followed by an even longer and more grueling period of waiting for some omnipotent entity to say YES!
Short of strangling replies out of people (there are laws against that), there really isn’t much to be done. So… if we can’t eliminate this annoying condition from our lives, how can we make the act of waiting more bearable?
Turn it into action!
Given the choice between action and passivity, I’ll choose action every time. And I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way. Even if the action in question involves hard work, I think most of us would prefer that to sitting around waiting for the phone to ring. Why? Because action makes us feel as though we’re participating in the outcome. It keeps us engaged and productive and energized. And that feels empowering. When we put life on hold to wait, we become props in our own play.
Yeah, I can already hear the objections. It goes something like this:
“I can’t do anything until I hear from the person who is holding my life in his hands.”
“I won’t be able to concentrate until this monumental whatever is settled.”
“I’m too worried about the dreadful thing that may or may not happen to do anything except binge-watch Netflix and drown myself in whiskey and double fudge brownie ice cream.”
Does any of this sound familiar? And is any of it pleasurable? If your answers are yes and no, keep reading. I might have some tips that can make this onerous state, not just tolerable, but energizing!
#1 – CARRY ON
The temptation is to stop, wait for the result, then restart. But is that an empowering choice? When we stop, we risk losing our momentum. Our enthusiasm cools, and our muse takes a holiday. By the time we finally get an answer (no matter what it is), we may find it hard to restart the engines and get back up to speed.
Don’t let waiting slow you down: Carry on.
Why not just keep on writing, composing, drafting, pitching, building, researching, or whatever it is that we were doing before we dipped into the stagnant pond of waiting?
We may not be able to progress on a specific task, but we can always find some other relevant or accompanying aspect on which to focus our attention.
#2 – STOP WORRYING
Worry is a cancer that eats away at our peace of mind, sucks out our creativity, and erodes our health. It’s also a choice. We know this intellectually (or at least, I hope we do), but that doesn’t mean we actually believe it. When the phone doesn’t ring or our inbox stays empty, our mind leaps to the bad place. (Okay… first we think of technological gremlins and evil spirits and THEN our mind leaps to the bad place.) But my point is that, if we’re not mindful, we end up wallowing in worry and eyeing the mocha chip gelato. It may feel like we have no choice in the matter, but we do.
If you have your default emotion set to worry—change it.
I’ve written extensively on this in my book Empowered Living: A Guide to Physical and Emotional Protection. So, if you’re interested in more information on this topic, check it out. In the meantime, you can read my Mindful Musings about Empathy without Suffering and Stopping the Stress.
#3 – MOVE FORWARD
Just because another entity has the power of decision, it does not mean we have to give them power over our actions. And it certainly does not mean we should give them power over our emotions.
Imagine what you would do if you got your desired result. Then do it.
With a little creative thinking, we can almost always find a way to move forward. It helps to put aside the specifics and identify the core qualities of what we want.
Do we want a job for money? If so, what other ways are there to get what we want or do what we need to do that don’t require money?
Are we hoping for the promotion so we can focus on a new set of projects? If so, why not start similar projects on the side?
Do we want marriage because we want a family? If so, what other ways can we make a positive impact on young lives and build meaningful relationships and community?
Are we waiting for a positive test result? If so, how can we capitalize on and enjoy the health we have?
When we let go of our attachment to a specific outcome, we make room for new solutions to appear.
#4 – CATCH UP
When we’re striving for a goal or dealing with a stressful event, we put off things of lesser importance. Waiting periods are the perfect time to attend to those neglected tasks, finish that tardy project, or write some blogs for future publication.
Do what you haven’t had time to do.
We can use this time to take care of favors we promised to do or delve into research. It’s also a fabulous time to organize, toss, sort, and…
#5 – CLEAN
Cleaning is an awesome tonic for waiting. When we clean our physical space we symbolically clear the energy. What better way to invite positive new adventures?
Clean your house!
#6 – EXERCISE
Unless we’re a fitness junkie or our profession involves high levels of physical activity, we are probably not getting as much exercise as we would like to get.
Build muscle and burn some calories!
Waiting periods are great times to set an exercise regime, try a new class, or experiment with new athletic endeavors. (Pole dancing anyone?)
#7 – HAVE FUN
We can get so wrapped up in waiting for something to happen that we forget to enjoy the moment. This is especially true when the news we’re waiting for feels serious (and it always feels serious). But isn’t this precisely the time when we need to treat ourselves well and lighten up?
Give yourself permission to have fun.
If we submitted a piece of work, this is the perfect time to reward ourselves for the time and effort spent creating it. If we’re waiting on a test result or to hear back from an out-of-touch child, doing something enjoyable keeps us engaged in the moment and away from dark imaginings. If we’re dealing with relationship angst, nurturing ourselves helps us to remember that we have the power to make ourselves feel happy and fulfilled.
To wait or have fun? Tough choice… NOT.
When we’re waiting for a result or a response, we are living in the land of optimum possibilities.
How’s that for a perspective changer? You might want to read it again. (wink)
With the right attitude, waiting can be both productive and enjoyable. We can feel energized by hope and potential. Why not enjoy it?