I have often been asked, “How did you know that this time would be different? That you would be able to make changes and they would stick? It must have been the right time!” Or, people have told me, “I know I need to (insert a change) but this isn’t a good time for me.” I’ve been thinking about this, and I’ve decided that I have a strong opinion about this whole topic of looking for the right time.
The only time I have FOR SURE is this moment. Next month, next year, three years from now when I am “ready”…those are times that may or may not ever arrive. This moment, right now, is what I have to work with.
I am learning to let the future take care of itself, and to focus my energy on this moment. That doesn’t mean I’ve given up the idea of planning, setting goals, or having things that I aspire to. It just means that these goals and aspirations don’t bring themselves into being. The whole, honest, and hard to grasp truth is that the timing may never be “right” because I decide the time. If I wait patiently or passively for conditions to turn favorable, I lose the gift of this moment – and the window of opportunity to create the life I want.
Thinking about this, the past sometimes threatens to emotionally overwhelm me. It hits me anew just how much of my life has been lost to thinking the future would magically change me or the conditions in which I lived. When I was unhappy in high school, I told myself I just needed to hang on till college, then things would somehow become the way I wanted them to be. In college, graduation would take care of it…in my 30s I was waiting to establish a stronger professional persona…in my 40s I was waiting to be more financially secure. I waited for the “right time” or for “the timing to feel right” for a lot of things I hoped to have and do in my life. Consequently, all I managed to actually accomplish was…waiting. Waiting is passive and reactive, not the words I want in my epitaph!
In the past couple of years, I have lost more than 130 pounds. The day I lost my first pound was a day that I decided to make a healthy choice. Each pound lost (or, sigh, gained) since has been an aggregation of singular, in-the-moment choices. My relationships have deepened and grown as well. I believe this is the result of repeatedly choosing people right now over other options for spending my time. As the speed of my days accelerates with age, I am consciously aware that the people I love are also only promised this moment. I don’t want to regret squandered opportunities later.
I don’t remember this every minute of every day. And I am not always happy, in hindsight, with the choices I make. I can still fall prey to the allure of waiting for the propitious time, especially if what I want/need to do takes me outside my comfort zone. I want to put off difficult conversations or procrastinate the mundane tasks that lead me in the direction of my dreams (I mean, who wants to keep their resume up-to-date? But what if just the perfect opportunity comes along and you need to act swiftly to snag it?) However, there is a direct and very real correlation between the fullness of my life and how well I maintain this orientation to the present.
For me, learning to live consciously in the moment has been a life-altering experience of magnitude. So to those of you who are contemplating real change in your lives, I offer this perspective — “timing” is a myth. Make an active choice to live fully right now, and you may find that NOW is the PERFECT time, after all!