I was reading a book recently called “Take the Stairs” by Rory Vaden and it explained the danger of the “when/thens”.
What the heck are the when/thens?
The when/thens are when we tell ourselves things like “when the kids all get into school then I’ll have time to start exercising” or “when I get my bonus then I’ll start putting more money in the kids 529 plans for college” or “when I just get through busy season then I will have time to read to my kids at night”. If you are thinking to yourself “uh…that sounds familiar” you may have the when/thens.
I know I have this issue, which is why the concept resonated with me in the book and why I thought others in Stapleton may have the same problem. I think this issue is prevalent with people who live very busy lifestyles and are prone to take on too many commitments. They, or I should say we (I’m guilty), are always thinking of good things we can do but many of them are in the future “when” something else has taken place. It’s really just a way of putting things off because we often never get to that good intention in the future.
So if we have this when/then issue how do we address it?
I don’t have all the answers but it seems to me that there are 2 things we can do.
First, we have to start doing whatever that thing is that we want to do now, today, even if it’s on a limited basis and even if it’s imperfect. Take reading to your kids for example, if you want to read with them 30 minutes a night just start with 5 minutes a night. Start small today, have some success and then grow towards your larger goal over time instead of waiting for the mythical perfect time to appear. Wanna work out? Go for a 15 minute walk if you don’t have time for the full gym routine. Just a small taste of success could get you going down the right path.
I think a lot of us wait for something to be perfect before we start. It’s like young married couples that are waiting for the right time when they are “ready” to have their first baby. Good luck with that, it might be a long wait until life throws you some perfect conditions!
Second, it might be a good time for us to step back and look at our priorities. If we don’t have time for those really important things we want to do maybe we have said yes to too many other non-critical commitments. (since I’m recommending books “Essentialism” by Greg McKeown is a great one that addresses this issue) I see this a lot in Stapleton, we’re an active bunch and we like to say yes to a lot, which ends up causing us to miss out on more important things I think we may regret later.
If this all describes you, take a second and think about the “when/then” statements you’ve been telling yourself for a while. Are the reasons you’re waiting to start legit or are you just waiting for the perfect time because of fear? If there are legitimate things that need to happen before you can start how do you get them done to move forward? If it is fear stopping you from get started on that thing you’ve been waiting to do today, just take that first step and see how it goes.