In 2008, my wife and my rent was up and she wanted to buy a house. She was newer in real estate and wanted to buy what she was selling.
I did not.
I was worried that we would not have enough money to fix a problem that might come up. While we had some money saved for rainy days, what would happen if the AC broke, at the same time that the refrigerator goes out and the roof starts to leak?? Really… it all could happen. “What then?” I thought.
I wasn’t ready. I wanted to wait.
Thank goodness I married a strong-willed person who pushes me. We bought the house and it was a great home for us. Then in 2011, we moved out and rented it out for 3 years. In 2014 we sold it for over 50% of what we bought it for. We took those proceeds and invested in another home that is still returning 8%-10% each year of what we invested in it, plus the appreciation in home value.
Had we gone my way, we would have waited. Paid rent for at least another year. Missed out on those future windfalls and delayed our wealth building.
It’s pretty clear that waiting would not have been in our best interest. So, why do we wait? Short answer is fear. The slightly more in depth answer is that we are wired to look for problems in the future. Our brains are designed to keep us alive, especially our unconscious mind. Our ancestors had to think through what the consequences would be if they walked in the cave, ate that berry, and so on. Wild animals and poisonous berries are things to fear indeed. The trait of looking into the future for problems helped preserve them and that was good.
Fast forward to the 21st century and our minds look into the future in the same way. Now, though, we’re not worried about wild animals or berries. Yet, we still look into the future and fear what could happen. The house might need repairs, this person might reject me, I might embarrass myself if that fails, I might not decrease my weight. When those thoughts come in, we experience the same sensations of stress and fear that our ancestors did encountering truly life & death situations. And we do what they did… we fight, we flight or we freeze.
Flighting and freezing can look like waiting. “This could go wrong… let me wait.” “That might happen… let me wait.” Waiting is easy. It’s comfortable. It requires no change.
It also keeps us from experiencing life to its fullest and cuts our successes short.
How, then, do we get our minds to allow us to go for it? We change the fear of the future into faith in the future. In the same thought pattern that we look for boogie man, we can look for our guardian angel. We must realize that failure isn’t fatal and that success is on the other side of going for it.
Here’s an exercise to help you illustrate this for yourself:
Think of a time in which you acted before you thought you were ready and it irreparably harmed you? (before you answer… keep in mind the definition of “irreparable”: it’s impossible to rectify or repair.)
Think of a time that you decided to wait and missed out on an opportunity or the blossom didn’t bloom as fast?
That’s right… you probably cannot find a situation where actual irreparable harm was done to you or by you because you jumped in too early. Yet, I’m sure many occasions where waiting cost you.
Here’s a quick way to move through the tendency to wait…
Find something that will aid in your success where you would have waited and proactively do it.
Notice the feeling of fear that comes up. This is a natural feeling and okay to feel the fear at first.
Push through the fear and do it anyway.
After you’ve done whatever action you did, reflect with these questions:
Are you closer or farther away from success?
What do you feel about yourself in this moment?
What will happen when you keep this up?
How can you make the action even better next time?
When you consider the cost of waiting vs the gain of doing, it’s clear which direction to take.
Stop waiting. Start living.