Are you sitting on a big decision right now? Are you putting it off because it is just a little too scary? It probably has the potential to change your life, right? A choice between jobs. The question of whether to go back to school. The decision of whether or not to get married. It’s intimidating. And often the excuse that you and I give ourselves for putting it off is timing. We convince ourselves that a little more time will somehow improve our set of life circumstances, that we will be wiser or the future will be clearer if we just wait a little longer.
And yes, this can be true at times. But more often than not, immediate action is your answer. Don’t put your life on hold any more. As Tim Ferriss, in his lifestyle design rhetoric stresses, The timing is never right. There will never be a better time to start living a courageous life. It is time for us to DO something. As CultureMutt is about savvy, global do-gooding, this post will focus on beating timing related stalling over big life decisions.
Acknowledge the fear
Each time I decided to do something unconventional involving international relocation I have had to face my own fears. Am I just escaping? Will I fall behind everyone else? What if I fail at my assignment / language learning / relationship building? Do I have what it takes? Will I lose my friendships at home? These questions are scary because they deal with the unknown and because they address the possibility of failure. What I have found each time is that none of these questions are unhelpful in themselves. They are worth asking and it is important to work out contingency plans and to face any adventure with the right mindset – as an adventure of growth rather than as a cowardly escape. But the fact that these are valid questions does not mean that you should spend forever agonizing over them. Don’t put off these questions for a “better time”. Feel the fear, deconstruct it by writing down answers to the scary questions and talking the fear over with friends. But DO NOT let it slow you down.
Face your worst-case scenario
How bad would it be if the worst thing possible took place? There are always dangers and perils that threaten you. Picture yourself living the worst-case scenario. More often than not, the disaster scenario still leaves you with a pulse, correct? Delaying your life over timing dilemmas WILL NOT HELP. In reality, calm steps and smart thinking would allow you to dig yourself out of your potential mess. On the other hand, the blue sky scenario or even an average result of your big bold step can often pay off huge. I often think of famous people that made risky decisions that paid off. I imagine how they processed the risks – their fears and doubts. And then I think about what they would do in my shoes. I am often a little embarrassed when I realize how much more bold they would be, living a day in my life.
Make decisions in your happy place
Hands-down one of my best decision making periods is the cool-down period after a run. I currently have a little stress-busting routine that I indulge in several times a week – I run out to my local airport (just over 2 miles) and then I walk back. The run out helps me build up a sweat and mull over frustrations and fears. And the cool down period on the walk home is this period of extreme clarity when I think better than I have all day – it is as if a mental haze lifts and I am able to dream big and make bold decisions. I trust the decisions I make directly after runs a lot more than I trust decisions made out of the aggravations of the everyday grind. Find what works for you and make your decisions about overseas relocation, service and travel from a happy, relaxed, endorphin-charged place. Make courageous decisions, not jaded, tired, procrastination-laden ones.
Take tiny steps in the right direction
One of my best friends and I attracted a lot of eye rolling a few years back when we came up with what we called the “non-negotiables”. We each came up with a list of things we HAD to do every week day. I think my list (which included things like “go running”, “study Mandarin”, “start learning to play the piano”, etc) translated to 5-7 hours of work a day, on top of my full-time job. Some of it was fun. I was living in a grimy part of Hollywood at the time but I would go running on a four mile loop that included the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But the crazy hours and sleep deprivation soon caught up with us. We tried to help each other out – my buddy showed me some of the piano basics and I helped him with his French vocab but within a couple weeks when another friend asked us about the non-negotiables, my buddy summed up our progress with, “well they’ve become a little more negotiable.”
Looking back, the deliberate steps toward self-improvement were not the problem but the required steps were too big. Whenever I’ve forced myself to take small yet intentional steps towards a goal, it has paid off though. Little steps can be taken now, you don’t have to wait for the “right timing”. Take the step and accomplish something!
Track your efforts
Lately I’ve become a tracking nerd. I’ve noticed that tracking almost anything means that you will do better and better at it. I track how much I run, how often I post on CultureMutt and how much I weigh among other things. Seeing the numbers does something very valuable – it makes me compete against myself. Where previously I’ve been putting things off out of fear, now I am constantly trying to best yesterday’s efforts at achieving the goal. It is fun and it is satisfying – especially because it allows me to see my own progress over time.
Decide right now that the time is right for you to start living your generous, intentional, international life. We each have it in us to move past timing-related excuses to the courageous, fulfilling life of action that lies ahead.