My wife taught me a valuable lesson recently.
For years, we’ve been planning to build a new house for our growing family. With that decision, we pegged a lot of other things to it, such as a new living room, new places to see, and even a family dog.
“Let’s update the living room after we move,” we told ourselves. “Let’s hold off on that vacation until we’re settled. Let’s wait for a dog until we have our own yard.”
We’ve held that belief for many years with various plans, not just shelter. Wait, wait, wait. When.. when… when… After, after, after.
This year, however, my wife had a eureka moment. “You know,” she said, “I’m tired of waiting for things we have the means and desire to do right now. Let’s update the living room.”
“But I thought we decided to wait to do that?” I interjected.
“We did. But there’s really nothing holding us back. May I do it?”
She was right. I’m not sure what was keeping us other than procrastination or short-sightedness, so I agreed. Two weeks later, she had renewed and brightened the family commons area with new decor and family photos. The kids appreciated it. My wife was excited by it. I enjoyed it.
Shortly after, she approached me again. “Wanna go to Oregon?” For the record, I’ve been petitioning a visit to Crater Lake and Redwoods National Forest for years, but Lindsey always wanted to wait until we were “settled”—whatever that meant.
With her newfound perspective, now she was ready to plan it. That night, she even helped me book it.
Thank you, ma’am. May I have another?
“Yes you may,” she figuratively replied not two weeks later. “We need to get a dog,” she calmly pleaded. “We’ve wanted one for sometime. We can do it right now.”
“We’re only looking, okay?” I said before visiting a new litter of rat terriers. “We’re not buying one tonight. Just looking.”
In stopping for gas en route to the breeder, I changed my mind. I was going to follow my wife’s good example of carpe diem and buy a dog that very night.
We did and named him Harley. In just a week after his arrival, my household has been blessed with new energy, new responsibility, and new companionship. No waiting required.
Obviously, there’s something to be said about patience. It’s an undeniable virtue and one of life’s biggest lessons and greatest rewards when having it. But why wait for something that doesn’t require patience?
When both the means and genuine desire exist (i.e. when conditions are right), fear of the unknown is usually to blame in keeping us from seeing, doing, or having something.
Obviously it takes means to pull off what we did in succession. Financial ones. Moral support. Flextime. I’m fortunate enough to have all three at the moment.
But means aren’t nearly as much as they often seem. Sometimes the only thing holding us back is an artificial peg or deadline. Like a house, new job, more experience, new love, more money, a different city, a different life.
You see, this “rule of postponement” as I call it applies to more than just material things, relationships, or experiences. It’s a way of life. It’s about being responsibly decisive and measurably impulsive.
It’s about desire and means. If you honestly have both, what are you waiting for?
The story first published on Feb 28, 2014