May 142013

When you visualise your destination, the life you want, and you contemplate the path that will take you there, do you find yourself dragging your feet? If so, why do you think this is?

Two weeks ago I suggested that an underlying fear may be preventing you from doing what needs to be done to achieve your goals. Another angle on this is that you’re waiting for some mythical condition to be fulfilled before you feel it’s OK – or safe – for you to have what you want. If this resonates with you, if you recognise a sense of putting off creating the life you’re supposedly aiming at until…, I offer you the following thoughts.

Are you waiting for everything to be perfectly in place before you implement whatever changes you’re contemplating? I’ve noticed this can work in two ways: small improvements can be put on hold for big events and big changes can be put on hold for a series of smaller conditions – sometimes simultaneously. What I mean is, for example, a single person might say it’s not worth looking after himself properly, eating well, keeping the living space clean and tidy, and so on, until he is in a relationship. A mother might say she’s not even going to keep in touch with her former interests or career until her children are at secondary school. A workaholic might say she can’t slow down until she has earned £X thousand, got the umpteenth promotion, or whatever. A couple wanting to start a family might say they can’t until they’ve got enough money, moved into the ideal house, etc.

Obviously, I’m not advocating rushing headlong into major life changes without any planning or preparation. However, if you find yourself consistently procrastinating something you really want, it could be that you’re afraid of the consequences of having what you want (the workaholic’s parents may have gone bankrupt, leaving the offspring with a terror of insolvency and an ingrained sense they can never let up; the couple may feel insecure about what sort of parents they’ll be or the extent to which being parents will curtail their lifestyle). In this case, being honest with yourself about what it is that’s actually holding you back will help you to process and sort out your worries, so you can make an informed decision, rather than just going on postponing life and existing in a kind of limbo.

It could also be an issue of self-esteem. If you’ve got children, of course they take priority, but that doesn’t mean your own needs have to be completely abandoned or ignored. If you’re single, this does not diminish your value in any way; you are absolutely worth the care and attention you would give another person.

A further possibility is that you’re waiting for someone to notice what a bad state you’re in and offer some support. This is a mistake I made, which caused me to waste many important years, and I urge you to drop this as a strategy forthwith! It doesn’t work, you’ll be waiting forever. Forget about what anyone else thinks; identify what you want and go for it.

Whatever it is you’re waiting for, think carefully about whether it is in reality a smokescreen, providing spurious justification for your inaction. The road to the life you want may be a long one but you’re never going to get there if you don’t make a start. To encourage you, here is a quotation from Publilius Syrus that I have recently discovered and find inspiring: Valour grows by daring, fear by holding back.

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