What Are You Waiting For? A Different Take on a Trite Question.

If you’re anything like me (or many of the people I’ve known), you’ve gotten asked “what are you waiting for?” more than once in your life.

In these instances, the emphasis is put on the word “waiting”. “What are you waiting for?” – as though the act of waiting is, by its very nature, offensive to the person asking the question. And, truth be told, it probably is offensive to the person asking the question because they’ve been conditioned to think that you have to always be doing something or else you’re a sinful waste of flesh (the Protestant Work Ethic strikes again).

The thing is that it’s a perfectly valid and useful question – just not the way they ask it, so we’re going to ask it in a way that may actually be of some benefit to you.

What are you waiting for?

Taking the emphasis off of the act of waiting and putting it on the thing that will cause you to stop waiting hits a little differently, doesn’t it? Almost as though you are waiting for a valid purpose.

Here’s a hint – you usually are.

Waiting (or at least appearing to wait) is sometimes a perfectly valid option. There are even times when it’s the wisest option.

You may be taking a break after having done a lot of work. You may be waiting for a long running process to finish. You may be waiting for political infighting to get to a point where it’s to your advantage to act. You may even be performing actual work (thinking, for example) in such a manner that it only looks like you’re inactive.

These are all valid reasons to wait, and are by no means the only valid reasons. Some of them are even covered in classic written works on strategy.

The real question, however, is what will get you to stop waiting?

Have a criteria that will cause you to start being active again, otherwise you run the risk of falling into indecision (also known as analysis paralysis). When that criteria is met, act with purpose and at a pace which makes sense. You don’t always have to be “busy” doing something, no matter what a lot of people in this society may try to tell you. Waiting can be a useful choice as long as you know why you’re waiting and know (roughly) what you’re going to do afterward.

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