When faced with a decision, how do you act? Are you a person who acts quickly or do you have a tendency to wait? Do you analyze the situation, research possible outcomes, seek out alternatives, and then decide? Or do you sometimes just wait and time passes as does the opportunity, eliminating any need to decide at all.
Fascination with how many opportunities come to all of us that float by like clouds without decisive action, led me to ask the question – Why do we so often wait? Usually people say they will wait because there is a step they feel is necessary to take before making that decision. I will investigate that job opportunity once I’ve redone my resume, for example.
Sometimes, one waits and takes action on the step that should precede the other, but usually, “I need to wait” just is another way of saying, I’ll take no action. As a response, it’s akin to “maybe” after you ask your mom to take you to the zoo. It’s an escape term. In the world of flight or fight, this is the take off.
It’s difficult to see this occurring in yourself. I have an advantage of observing others responding (or not) to opportunities in my work, which points me back to my own flaws in this department.
There is evidence that premature scaling is the primary reason for the high number of startups that fail (particularly tech companies), and much written advocating “strategic patience” in business decision making.
However, individuals and small to mid-level entrepreneurs often hold off on making or acting on decisions that could allow them to scale and profit. At this level, you are ramping up and the sooner you grab on to great moments of good fortune, the quicker you accelerate your own growth and that of your business.
Reluctance is often more the tendency than quick action. It is still important to evaluate the decisions as thoroughly as you need to, but when you are telling yourself that you must wait for something else to occur, perhaps NOW is the time to tackle that specific roadblock (or mind block), instead of allowing it to derail you.
Here are a few tips to help those who wait:
1. Schedule an action to take as soon as you can, when you have options in front of you. For example, a potential client wants to meet with you and offers three dates. Take the first available.
2. Do something (quick analysis, determine what is needed, have a conversation) with every viable opportunity that comes along. You may still dismiss it, but it will be a conscious and deliberate choice versus neglecting to act.
3. Notice what and who is coming into your life. Is there anything you could do in that context or for that person, that might be of service? Noticing how you could serve may help you make the decision to engage. We tend to back off when we are thinking only in terms of ourselves.
4. Think “as if” and make decisions from that point. Focusing on where you are will keep you there. If you know the person you want to be, ask yourself how would I act if I was already there? If you want to be a million dollar business owner, ask yourself, what would a million dollar business owner do in this situation?
5. Simplify to amplify. Tackle one project at a time, no matter how tempting it is to jump around or find new ideas. Finish a project before moving to the next. Schedule time to fit in smaller tasks that can be lumped together and handled quickly so they do not present constant distractions.
6. Hit the thing you want to do least, first. This takes mind game playing and discipline, but the sense of accomplishment is worth it. I recommend googling “music to focus by” and playing whatever you like in that category to help you stay on task. Set a timer and move your phone out of sight.
7. Take a scary action. If an opportunity comes along that makes you uncomfortable, yet you are intrigued, try very hard to push yourself to take some action. If the opportunity is showing up, you may be ready and you don’t realize it. You may be directed to another action that will prepare you. That kind of synchronicity is common.
8. You don’t know until you try. So try, with an open mind. Then make a more informed decision.
9. Organize and clear space in your schedule to accommodate new options that present themselves so you are not “too busy” to pay attention or evaluate them.
10. If you don’t believe you can do something at this time, ask the question, “what if I didn’t have this belief” and see what emerges for you. Discuss this with an objective party who has your best interest in mind.
In conclusion, look at where you are in your life and career or business. Decide what you want and by when. Evaluate your decision making process and see where “waiting” fits in. Is it more about fear and uncertainty, or is it logical and serving your overall goals? Notice what comes along and consciously decide yes or no. When you want to wait, there’s a lesson in there. Figure out that part of the puzzle and you have new information to move you forward.