This time of year many of us are doing holiday shopping. Or we may be delaying holiday shopping. There are always some of us who are out on Christmas Eve making final just-in-time purchases! Has that ever been you?
In this series of posts, I've been exploring reasons why people delay needed or wanted actions or decisions. I've shared about waiting for permission, waiting for perfection, and waiting for protection. This week is dedicated to those of us who are waiting for panic. We delay making decisions until a sense of urgency forces us into action!
You many be waiting for panic if you find yourself constantly "putting out brushfires". Perhaps you find that you work well under pressure and enjoy the challenge of a tight deadline. This may even be a professional strength of yours, and you may get recognition for being able to handle urgent or emergent situations well.
Being able to work well under pressure can certainly be an asset. But it also has a cost. In addition to creating stress reactions that are hard on our bodies, operating in this mode can prevent us from investing our time and energy in those things that don't seem nearly so urgent or exciting. When it comes to our health and well-being, waiting for panic may mean that we only take action when faced with a serious health threat. Delaying action on our health can mean that we suffer preventable consequences or are left with treatment options that are more costly and risky. Prevention is always less risky than treatment!
Even though we know this, we may delay taking action because we are in the habit of giving preference to what is urgent in our lives. Dwight Eisenhower offered a different perspective: "What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important."
If you would like to change your habit of operating in panic mode, here are four suggestions for getting started:
- Do a Self-Assessment. Begin to notice this habit and how it occurs without judging it. You might keep a journal or log of times when you feel forced into urgent action or decision-making. Notice what situations lead up to these times. What earlier decisions or actions could have prevented the urgency?
- Identify Gaps. Identify what important, non-urgent activities or decisions you would like to include in your life. Consider the vision you have for your life, and the values that are important to you as you identify these priorities.
- Choose Where to Start. Prioritize your list of non-urgent activities and set reasonable goals and expectations for how you can begin to weave these into your life. You may find it helpful to work with a coach if you are having difficulty figuring out where to start or how much to add to your schedule.
- Conduct Regular Self-Care Summits. Begin to set aside regular planning time on at least a weekly basis. Create time in your calendar for the important, non-urgent activities. Use your planning sessions to review what you've accomplished and learned since your last session. Then, adjust your plan based on what you notice.
A New Year will soon be here and and that will provide a cultural prompt for many of us to get started on setting new priorities and new goals for ourselves. You don't have to wait for an external event like the New Year to push your "panic button". You can begin to cultivate intentional new patterns any time you choose.
What about you? What are your strategies for including important, non-urgent activities in your life? Please share your ideas with me in the comments below!