As coaches, we often hear people talking about waiting. Waiting for the right time. Waiting for the kids to grow up. Waiting until the mortgage is paid. Waiting until you have time to study. And suddenly five years have passed and life has carried on and we are still waiting. The most common reasons (there are three) that people wait are: they are waiting for life to not feel as hard; they are waiting for when they have time; or they are waiting because they don’t know where to start.
We would love you to watch or listen to this YouTube reading of the Dr Seuss book Oh, The Places You’ll Go, read by Michelle Obama. Yes, it’s a children’s book, but it’s oh so appropriate for every age. Play it while you’re out walking or cooking dinner. Or read it with your children. Here’s the part that really sticks with us when it comes to the perils of waiting:
“You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place… for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.”
We could go on here about life being short and precious, but it’s really about more than that. Life is meant for living, adventure, mistakes and learning. It’s about realising our full potential; discovering what we’re truly capable of. It’s about knowing that when we’re old and grey, sitting on our porch reminiscing about the life we’ve lived, that we aimed for everything we wanted. That we set our targets high and went after our goals. Even if we didn’t succeed, we have no regrets about not trying. (Fun fact: Studies show that we’re more likely to be haunted by regrets surrounding the things we could have done, or inaction, rather than anything we did wrong.)
Yes, we get it. Working towards good stuff can be hard. The waiting place can be comfortable and easy. And right now, we have plenty of excuses up our sleeves. COVID-19 has put a whole lot of things on hold. According to a recent study in the New York Times, people around the world are ‘languishing’ in the wake of the pandemic – feeling joyless and aimless, though not necessarily unhappy. Planning anything beyond our own backyards can be difficult, given the uncertainty that surrounds us. But it’s also an incredible opportunity to take a step back and reflect on what we’re doing and where we want to be this time next year, or in five or 10 years’ time.
If you are living in the waiting place, here are some coaching questions to consider:
- What are the consequences of me waiting?
- What stops me from starting today?
- What’s the story I tell myself about why I can’t do it now?
- What would life feel like if I stepped out of the waiting place?
- Am I self-sabotaging without meaning to?
- Who do I know that could help me?
In her TED Talk about the antidote to regret, Kimberly Rich suggests that in order to lead a fulfilling, regret-free life, you just have to be willing to be bold. So start thinking big. Identify your goals and get to work. You’re the only person who can slam the door on the waiting place and head somewhere way more exciting.
- The Coach Place Global team
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