Throughout my life I have heard the phase ‘when you are ready’ so many times. There is something almost comforting about it. It leaves a glisten of hope that things that you don’t think possible could happen. I understand that there are just some things you can’t be ready for, you just have to jump in and do it. However, I have come to learn over the last few months that sometimes you really do have to ‘wait’ until you are ready.
“It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Now is as good a time as any.” — Hugh Laurie.
When I know there is something in my life that needs to shift and change I will always go through a pattern of motions. First, I won’t even realise that something needs to change. Then, someone will say something that might plant a seed for change. I will then usually think a lot. Soon after that little things that never used to bother me will. At this point I might voice my frustration to some close family but not think of the deeper underlying desire for change. I will continue to listen to people tell me things they have said to me a hundred times and ignore them because I like things the way they are. I honestly think that my family, close friends and boyfriend know me better than I know myself. They can see desire for change before I do. When I do finally decide to make a change, it usually rushes over me and I feel I need to do something straight away.
My concern is, why is it that I always wait to do something? What am I waiting for?
I was reading over my blog post from the 21st of May called ‘What is my purpose?’ the other day. As I was reading it, the emotions I had during that time came back to me. I remember being so frustrated at being told what was best for me without having a second chance to think of what I thought was best for me. When things get really personal for me (work, relationships) I can be super defensive. I don’t like people intruding into that world. Even if I bring up the topic, I will usually put my head down and stop engaging with the person if it isn’t what I want to hear. I know this is not the best approach but I am speaking honestly here. The reality is though, as much as I don’t like being told certain things I know I have to hear them.
“I am someone who over analyses every possible life situation in my head. If something happens chances are I predicted it, dreamt it or am so surprised that I didn’t see it coming. I struggle to do too many things spontaneously.” – ‘What is my purpose?’ post, May 21st 2018.
Like I said in May, I usually have already had some sort of feeling when things aren’t going right. But to me having the feeling isn’t so bad. You can pass it off as something that isn’t that important. It isn’t until someone else says something that I begin to really acknowledge my thoughts and situation as a cause for concern.
I disagree with the phrase ‘you will never be ready so just do it anyway’ to a degree. Obviously we are all going to feel anxious at a new situation and sometimes you just need to take the plunge and do something. For example, I don’t think you could ever be ‘ready’ for something like your first kiss or the first time you go on a ride that goes upside down. Generally, you will have an idea of how things may go but the reality is never going to be exactly what you thought. Other things in my opinion like getting into a relationship, changing jobs or confronting someone require a more sound thought process. I feel that in those situations there is a real sense of vulnerability. When I feel that I am vulnerable and there is no clear idea of the outcome I get more nervous because it could potentially change my life.
“People do this a lot. They don’t seem to realize that the future is just like now, but in a little while, so they say they’re going to do things in anticipation of some kind of seismic shift in their worldview that never actually materializes. Tomorrow is not some mythical kingdom where you’ll grow butterfly wings and be able to talk to animals — you’ll basically feel pretty much the same way you do at the moment.”- Russell Brand.
If you think of your life five years ago. Did you make a change that you were afraid to make at first? Did it quickly become part of your daily life that things didn’t feel like they changed at all? Is that change still part of your life? I think of so many decisions I have made that I was terrified to make at first but am now so grateful I did. Most of the best experiences I have ever had have come from a change I was afraid of at first. This is comforting because as much as I fear change, I know that the outcome and the lessons that come from it will soon become the norm.
Psychological research shows that as people we are able to quickly adapt to the roles that we assume in a given situation. Viktor Frankl explains this in his book “Man’s Search For Meaning.” Viktor was a victim of the Nazi Concentration camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, pregnant wife and brother perished. He describes his experience and the way that the victims and perpetratiors were able to adapt to the horridness of their situation. If a person could somehow normalize being in a concentration camp, then perhaps we as people are able to endure much more than we believe we are capable of.
When we are fortunate enough to be in a situation in which we can control whether or not a change is made I believe this power should be carefully used. There is a line though. If we think and think then we may always spend our lives thinking and never take a chance and do anything. When I do get the uncontrollable rush that is the sign that I have to do something right away. Some may say that it is too late at that point, but I truly believe that things are always as they should be and the opportunities and experiences we have will present themselves if they are meant to.
“Man does not simply exist but always decides what his existence will be, what he will become in the next moment. By the same token, every human being has the freedom to change at any instant.” - Viktor Frankl.
Research coming out of Harvard Business School by Alison Wood Brooks has found that those who use their anxious arousal as excitement feel more excited and perform better. Often it is our anxiety that prevents us from taking a step towards change. What if that anxiety could actually be channeled to help us achieve our goals? Anxiety shatters self-confidence, hurts our performance and drains our working memory capacity. It evokes uncertainty and a lack of control. Excitement helps us to adopt an opportunity mindset to improve performance. It helps us to focus on the more positive outcomes and helps us to believe that a positive result can be achieved.
Alison’s findings demonstrate that we have an incredible amount of control and influence over our emotions. The way that we think and verbalize those thoughts has a lot to do with constructing how we actually feel. She suggests that if we restructure the way we talk to ourselves when we are anxious, we can profoundly impact the way we feel. Say you are feeling really nervous about your first day of work. Instead of saying “I am so nervous”, say “I am so excited.” This helps to channel an opportunity mindset and may improve the way we perform, our level of confidence in ourselves, boost our beliefs and provide a ray of hope for the way that similar circumstances may pan out in the future.
“Excitement is the more practical synonym for happiness, and it is precisely what you should strive to chase. It is the cure-all.” — Tim Ferriss.
I feel that the more subtle changes I make day to day prepare me for the bigger ones. I do get nervous for change but at the same time I know that change has provided me with so much in the past. I wouldn’t be where I am today if things had always been the same and I had never taken a chance. I appreciate all the words of encouragement, concern and love I receive. Just because something is hard to hear does not mean that it is all bad. The little seeds planted by others help to guide me when I don’t even know I am lost. There is never going to be the ‘perfect time’ or a time we are completely ‘ready’ but there will be signs and feelings that I don’t believe should be ignored. Listen to your heart and the little voice inside. It has your back and knows the next step. Our job is to have faith and trust in the process.