There are two activities in life when it’s almost a guarantee that time will feel like it’s moving at a glacial pace: 1) when running on a treadmill, and 2) when waiting.
We spend a lot of time waiting. We wait for that text the day after a great first date. We wait for the results of those medical tests, and we wait for the email indicating we got an interview for that dream job.
If something is meaningful to us, it can be pure torture to feel like we have no control over the outcome or next steps. We put our energy into playing the “what if…” game, which can set our minds reeling aimlessly.
Merriam-Webster defines “wait” as “to not do something until something else happens; to delay action until a particular time.” And, despite the fact we’re not actually DOING anything, the waiting truly is the hardest part.
Even if the news we’re waiting for ends up being negative (e.g., she isn’t interested in a second date), just KNOWING makes us feel better because we can at least put our energy into taking forward action.
Most of us are not fans of ambiguity. However, if we think about it, much of life is spent in the town called Limboville. Planning is helpful to a point, but there comes a time when our energy is better spent living and enjoying life.
David Deida said, “Every moment waited is a moment wasted.”
What speaks to me in this is the sheer uselessness of spending energy on “waiting”. Yes, we may have no choice but to allow time to pass before we receive a response or answer. However, sometimes where we choose to put our energy during that time – spinning our wheels with “what if…” conversations, losing hours of sleep, being distracted from the present moment – is truly wasted.
So next time you find yourself waiting on an important outcome, consider how you can spend your energy being productive and joyful despite the uncertainty of the future.
Here are some strategies to calm your mind when waiting:
– Put pen to paper. Make a pro/con list. Perhaps plan for the worst case scenario. Then, put it aside. There’s nothing productive about focusing on the waiting. Focus on life. The waiting will still be there.
– Distraction. Plan something fun, get together with friends, start that project you’ve been putting off, clean out the garage. Immerse your mind and energy in something else.
– Flip your perspective. When the future is unknown, exciting things are possible. Don’t assume just because you can’t control an outcome or it doesn’t turn out as planned that it’s negative. You never know what’s around the next corner.
– Engage your faith. Trust that the Universe has your best interest in mind and what is meant to happen, will. Life doesn’t always make sense at the time, but if you reflect back, you’ll likely find many examples of how things worked out in the end.
– Take action. While it may be hard to take steps forward without the specific information you’re waiting for, be careful not to overgeneralize and become paralyzed in areas of your life where you CAN be taking action. (e.g., Although you’re waiting to hear back on your dream job, keep applying elsewhere until you have an offer in hand).
“If you wait, all that happens is that you get older.” (Mario Andretti)