It was once said that good things come to those who wait. However, it was also said that the early bird catches the worm, which shows that timing in everything.
So, the question now becomes, what is the right time? How long is too long to wait and is there such a thing as the perfect time?
I’m waiting on that lump sum payment so that I can finally kickstart my savings program.
I’m waiting for that dream job so that I can finally start investing.
I’m waiting on that promotion so that I can finally look into buying a house.
I’m waiting for the new government so that I can start my biashara.
Chances are that we are all waiting on something so that we can start working towards our goals, whether personal or financial. We often find ourselves drawn towards the allure of the perfect moment, but does it actually exist?
We almost always plan to start our diets and body goals on a Monday, or on the first of the month, or the first of the year with a full list of resolutions.
It’s not everyday you’ll find someone who decides to chase their dreams right now, in the middle of the week.
For some reason, we have come to believe that any challenging objective must be tackled under the perfect set of conditions, which is somehow always later.
Believe it or not, our decision to wait for the perfect moment can be simply translated as our go-to excuse when we are fearful and uncertain. Nothing frightens most people as much as change.
This fear then morphs into public enemy number one – procrastination, which then leads to stagnation and this ‘sucky’ feeling that your life is heading nowhere, which if left unchecked could potentially lead to mental health issues.
Life does not have a pause or rewind button that we can use to change or redo things.
Of course, this does not imply that we should act rashly and disregard all caution.
It does, however, imply that you should act as soon as possible.
You don't have to wait for the right combination of opportunity, convenience, and motivation to strike.
Warning: if you're hoping for that one-of-a-kind burst of motivation, it may never arrive.
So I ask again, why wait?
Now, that we are all looking inwards and questioning whether waiting this long just to get out healthy lifestyle goals started, or making a deposit on that dream house started, it’s important to also check if we have gotten to the procrastination phase.
Procrastination can cause problems at work or school, in your relationships, and with your financial as well as physical health, among other things
Let’s do a simple test to find out if this is the ‘perfect time’ to take action. The test is adopted from the University of Idaho’s Procrastination Self-Assessment handbook.
You can assign responses like ‘strongly disagree’ ‘disagree’ ‘neutral’ ‘agree’ and ‘strongly agree’
I have a habit of putting off important tasks that I do not enjoy doing.
I am unable to meet deadlines because I am unsatisfied with my work.
I spend more time planning my activities than doing them.
The chaos in my personal space makes it hard to do my work.
The people I live with distract me from doing my work.
I have more energy for my tasks if I wait until the last minute.
I enjoy the excitement of “living on the edge.”
I have trouble prioritizing my responsibilities.
Having to meet a deadline makes me nervous.
My biggest problem is that I do not know how to get started.
If you agree or strongly agree with:
1-2 Questions - You do not have a major problem with procrastination.
3-5 Questions - You have moderate difficulties with procrastination.
6 or More Questions - You have a serious problem with procrastination.
Hey, this is not the end of the world, if anything, it actually means that we are well on our way towards finally shortening the ‘wait’.
As for procrastination, it can easily be overcome by taking simple, but intentional steps.
How will the task help you achieve your short- and long-term goals?
What is the benefit of completing the task?
How will this accomplishment make you feel?
Break a large project into smaller blocks.
List all of the blocks and create an action plan to complete them by specific deadlines.
If you are having difficulty getting started, write down how you plan to begin the task.
Identify rewards for completing blocks.
Inform your friends about your plan.
Ask your friends to support your efforts.
According to a study carried out by Accountability Works (a professional planning and accountability coaching company), there are 4 types of procrastinators.
1. The performer who says, "I work well under pressure" - Their biggest challenge is getting started. Those in this category are advised to set start dates for any of their projects.
2. The self-deprecator who says, "I am so lazy right now" - This procrastinator was described as the opposite of lazy, such that when they don't do something they are extra hard on themselves. They tend to blame inaction on laziness as opposed to the simple truth that they are tired.
Those under this category are advised to take breaks and recharge.
3. The overbooker who says, "I'm so busy" - This procrastinator is a pro at filling up their calendar and is often overwhelmed. "I'm so busy" is probably the excuse we hear most often.
When busy-ness comes up as an excuse for not doing something, it's usually an indication of avoidance.
Those under this category are advised to take a moment of introspection and ask themselves what they are really avoiding.
4. The novelty seeker who says, "I just had the best idea" - This procrastinator has a terminal case of Shiny Object Syndrome.
They constantly come up with new projects to take on and then get bored with them a week or even 24 hours later. They're always reeled in by the latest trend and will be quick to implement but not follow through.
Their biggest challenge was ‘completion’.
Those in this category are advised to simply ‘make it stick’. They are also advised to write down any new ideas or projects on a sticky note but only pursue them once they finish what they are currently working on.
Now that we are done with the technical stuff, let’s wrap it up by demystifying this thing called the perfect time.
Think of it this way, when you’re inactive, you’re not enhancing any of your skills or gaining any new experience, or making mistakes that could serve you well in future.
For example, when it comes to investment, timing is everything and any slight delay or hesitation could lead to a world of regret.
The same applies to cultivating a saving culture, if you can be responsible and disciplined enough to set some savings aside on a 20k salary, when you finally work your way up to making 200k a month, saving will be part of your DNA, second nature.
On the other hand, if you are unable to save something aside when making 20k a month, chances are high that this will not change when you start raking in 200k a month, it’s all about getting into a routine that works for you, and being disciplined enough to see it through.
One definitely perfect time to start saving for retirement is as soon as you start earning your first salary - which for most people may be about 23 years. Compound interest will be your biggest buddy - do it at age 35 and you may have to double your monthly deductions and still contend with having less by retirement day.
The beauty of hitting financial goals such as saving, budgeting or investing is that there are proven tools that can help you achieve such goals. A simple conversation with your financial advisor can open you up to a whole new world of possibilities.
Do not brood over your past mistakes and failures as this will only fill your mind with grief, regret and depression. Just look ahead and get started.
At the end of the day let there be no regrets, only a desire to do more tomorrow than you did today.
Remember – even in failure, you’re learning, taking risks, and living life to the fullest.
You must also realise that by passively waiting for the ideal situation to present itself, you are relinquishing control over your life.
Instead of regaining control over your life, you're leaving it up to fate.
You may believe that waiting is a good idea, but what exactly are you waiting for?