Monday, July 22, 2013

finding legos on the floor

“When I'm reluctant to take a risk or face something uncomfortable, I ask myself the Five Fateful Questions that I've pulled together over the years to help make difficult choices.” Gretchen Rubin, Happier at Home

Do you, like Ms. Rubin, have difficulty making choices? Me, too.

Having now read both of Gretchen Rubin's Happiness books, I can verify that she is probably often reluctant to take a risk or face something uncomfortable, so I feel not only rather a kindred spirit with her but also trusting that if her questions work for her, they will work for other people.

If you've read any of her books, you know that she diligently researches her topics. Trust me, a lot of digging and delving into history, sociology, psychology, and literature went into her work and thus, her five questions. So I thought, why not talk about them while we talk about fearing risk or discomfort? I'm up for learning from someone else's hard work. I used to think I had to do all the work myself and make sure it was right but now, hey, that's what Google is for. And other authors whose thoughts I can steal borrow with due credit. (

Her first question when facing reluctance?

What am I waiting for?

What is keeping you back? Name the thing. It may be a legitimate need, like downpayment money, or finishing a college degree, or an OK from your parole officer to leave the country.

But what if the thing you name isn't a true obstacle? What if it is blocking your way more through imagination and worry than reality? What if it's just plain old fearful procrastination disguised as . . . waiting? Sometimes, for us pious types, it's "waiting on the Lord." Except . . . it's not. It's holy putting-off-a-decision-I-don't-want-to-make. 

I'm waiting for the kids the be older.
The bank account to grow larger.
The person I'm going to marry.
The person I've been dating for eight years finally to decide we'll get married.
A house of my own.

Sigh. I have to tell you something. If you're waiting for those things to happen before you tackle whatever risk is before you, other roadblocks will pop up. Yep, as liberally as dandelions in my rose garden.

Well now that the kids are older, they're so busy . . .
Now that I have more money, I have more bills . . .
Now that I'm married, I have to live where his job is . . .
Now that that deadbeat guy is out of my life because eight years is quite enough time to sit around waiting for something about as likely as a rain forest in the Sahara . . . OK, if that's you, you can take a pass on this one. You've been through enough for now.

You get the idea. Waiting for circumstances to change before you get started on something usually means new circumstances, new challenges, old procrastination. Because the problem is, that obstacle wasn't really stopping you. Your own desire to avoid the risk did that. After that, finding reasons not to do something becomes as easy as finding Legos on the floor with your bare feet.

What am I waiting for?

What is it? Is it real? Is it your imagination? Your fear? Your intimidation? Name it. Know it. Maybe you have good reason to avoid something—then these questions are made to help determine that. But maybe not.

Next week—Fateful Question #2.

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