What Are You Waiting For?

Given that I’ve published so much, I meet people who say, “I want to write. But, I need to wait for a good time to write.” Or, they say they need an outline or permission from someone—a boss or a spouse.

I can be pretty sure about one thing: these people will never write anything. The moons will not align, providing them time or inspiration or permission. 

I meet people who say, “I want to go agile. I want to help my company go agile. But I need to wait until the time is right.”

What would cause it to be the right time? I ask, and these people are often not sure.

I often meet managers who say that they want to provide an opportunity for some specific person to take responsibility. But, they say, they need to wait. They need to wait until that person proves him or herself, or for the exact right opportunity to arise. Or, until they can provide that person a raise to go along with the new responsibilities.

People can’t prove themselves without opportunity. Managers don’t often provide raises until you’ve proven you can do the work. How can people prove themselves or take the responsibility if the manager is waiting for something?

All of these people are waiting for the right time. Here’s the problem: the right time will never come. The right time doesn’t exist.

These people are waiting for something that cannot happen. 

If you want to do something, try something small as an experiment.

Don’t ask for permission. That’s another form of waiting.

What is the smallest change you can make? What is the smallest time investment you can make to see what will happen? If you wait for the right time, you’re waiting for a recipe.

Start small and manage the risks.

Consider these options:

  • Start writing with a small timebox of 10 or 15 minutes each day. See where you go.
  • Start with yourself, working in timeboxes and managing your work in progress.
  • Ask the person who wants more responsibility what they think they can do from all the work you have. Define the work, ask when to check in, and let them fly.

Measure your results and decide what to do next.

What are you waiting for?

6 thoughts on “What Are You Waiting For?

  1. netmouser

    Excellent insight as always. Also, as the saying goes “just do it” – it is easier to apologize later than ask for (and get) permission.

    1. johanna Post author

      Thank you! (I just finished a talk where I said, “I don’t ask for permission, I ask for forgiveness.” I also explained I was the Queen of the Career-Limiting Conversation. I did remind the audience they had choices…)

  2. Ed

    I lived in Southern California for years, then moved back to Iowa, my roots. The first winter back I sat inside and waited and waited for it to warm up so I could get outside an enjoy life. It seemed an eternity of staring out the windows and waiting for the snow to melt. The 2nd winter I experimented , tried walking outside when it was 30 degrees, that worked so I tried 20 degrees. I found I was fine as long as I had the proper gear. I would get a few people to walk with me. The winter seemed way shorter and I was happier, my experiment was working. I told a few friends what I was doing, I challenged them to walk outside once a day for at least an hour all winter. 2 of us started last September 2015. We walked every day. I posted photos on Facebook of our walking expeditions. Starting January 2016, a few more new friends joined then a few more and currently have a core group of 6 that walk every day. We have walked as cold as -21 wind chill. Many days this winter were -5 to -10 degrees, we all agree if you wear lots of layers you are toasty warm. Everyone in the group proclaims they are happier, healthier, having a blast, and this last winter was the best winter ever. It didn’t really seem like a winter at all.

    It all started with one person getting off the couch, trying something different.

    We walked the same path everyday, but we wanted more, and have discovered there are dozens of wonderful places to walk if we are not afraid to get a little muddy and off the beaten path and experiment.

    I post one photo everyday of our walking adventures, lots of people, many who I have never met, tell me they are watching us walk every day, and what fun that must be. I say, join us, some tell me, are you crazy, its too cold and tell me they will when the weather warms up, or now that it is getting to be summer, say they will join when its cooler, or when the time is right. Some give me their contact info, but it is a rare bird that gets off the couch. If they would only try it one time they will be hooked and it will change their life like it changed mine.

    1. johanna Post author

      Ed, what a great story. Where do you post the walking pictures? I am curious.

      I agree, you need the right gear for winter. I don’t think it’s as cold in Boston as it might be in winter in Iowa. I also walk outside in the winter every day (10-15 minutes at a time), unless it’s in the 20’s or below. I would need better clothing for that weather.

      I actually discovered it was more difficult for me to walk in the spring, because of the rain. The winter weather is more predictable.

      I love this:

      It all started with one person getting off the couch, trying something different.

      Lovely.

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