“I just don’t want to do anything until I know what’s going to happen with _________ next month.”
MagicMonday: This is a common and logical statement many of you might make when considering actions and decisions. It can be tempting to push pause on a goal, falling into the thinking trap of, “This will probably change again tomorrow anyway.” Another common belief is “Magic Mondays.” You know the ones – the Monday after your birthday weekend, the Monday after your vacation, the Monday after _______. It’s that Magic Monday in which all new diets, projects and plans begin. The day when the stars align, information will become perfectly clear and your circumstances will suddenly be perfect to take action.
It’s also known as an excuse to delay something that you darn well know you could start NOW.
These beliefs are a common symptom of a larger fear – using ambiguity as an excuse to delay a risky or vulnerable decision. Yet, embracing ambiguity is a core competency required to drive significant change in your life.
The new world of social media, news stories and so many ‘expert’ opinions, coupled with rapidly changing times, can cause the best leaders/moms/career professionals to the feel there’s never enough data or that there is another big event looming on the horizon to put a halt on important change initiatives. We often compare ourselves to the outcomes of others – the problem is that what is presented in public is a highly filtered view of what we (and others) want the world to see. Thus, the belief that others didn’t feel your same fear, vulnerability or experience mistakes, is an illusion.
The thinking of “never enough information” causes us to believe our situation is full of ambiguity and stress, thus resulting in delayed decisions, goals and project plans.
Why do we allow uncertainty to drive our fear bus and stop us from acting now?
You’re Smart. Jeffery Pfeffer, author of The Knowing-Doing Gap, says that’s exactly the problem. Smart people accumulate loads of knowledge and education. Trouble is, knowing what to do, and actually doing it, requires effort. A decision by itself doesn’t accomplish anything without action, and smart people can tend to too much talking and not enough doing.
You’re a Perfectionist. Perfectionism is different from healthy achievement. High achievers do not fear failure, they act fast and fail fast…and move on without looking back. Perfectionism is the fear of doing or saying anything that could be perceived as “imperfect,” which is a behavior driven by fear. It could sound like, “If I don’t try, then I can’t fail…” Not trying gives you a zero percent chance of realizing any learnings or accomplishments.
It’s Not a Priority. Using uncertainty as a continual excuse is a good way to really look deep to determine if the plan or decision is a true priority. Maybe it’s not – but you feel obligated to someone or something and you haven’t told them verbally what your heart already knows. Do yourself, and them, a favor by telling them today so everyone can move forward and spend their precious energy on activities that will actually yield results (for both of you).
Inaction and waiting costs you (and your company) money, productivity, achievement and confidence.Successful people do not come from perfect circumstances. Quite the opposite. Successful people learn how to accept their current situation, whatever it may be, and realize that it is the reality in which they must succeed. I hear succesful, action-oriented people often say, “I can make this work” and then move quickly into implementation.
I have good news for you – it is simply a mindset. And you can change it.
Ambiguity is a perceived state that results from allowing your circumstances to make you think, “I don’t have enough.”
A simple remedy to inspire action is a four-step approach that focuses on changing your mindset to embrace change and stop waiting for perfect circumstances. The event of having perfect information or circumstances to make decisions will never occur, so focus now on acting with the information you know today. There are no “Magic Mondays!”
This approach is also a great way to chip away at those perfectionistic tendencies that use fear to keep us from taking action! If you lead others, you can reduce chaos and improve accountability by quickly establishing and coaching to key short-term success metrics, resulting in improved team self-esteem and confidence for future tasks.
What ways have you found to work for you to take action and squash your excuses to get started? Share them in the comments.
To your journey,