The Myth of “Timing”

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!