This article looks at an argument that almost defeats itself; read on and all will become clear.
I am a huge fan of preparation (hate doing it but know it is so worthwhile) Again and again however, I am struck by how little concentration and consideration is often giving to what could be a huge life change.
I often ask people; so what are you going to do next? – years in business have taught me that you must never ever sit back and consider that as things are running smoothly at the moment this state of ease will continue. I offer my first exhibit – The Recession. The majority of us were going along well building on what we had when along came a recession that has changed the lives of so many.
I remember being out for dinner and talking about the scary things that were happening in the city. “ oh another crisis that will pass” I said, “No” said my dinner companion solemnly “this one is serious, I think this is going to be the big one”
I actually remember us looking at each other and felt, perhaps if not an icy shiver close enough for me to remember it some four years later.
And so when I ask people
“So what next for you?” and they say
“Oh I don’t know, something will come along”
“Don’t know yet, have not really had a chance to think”
And similar, I get that same shiver of anxiety for them. I know I am an anorak about it but I feel like grabbing them and saying, no you must consider this, it is so important and yet so easy once you accept that there is now a need, the old days of just floating into the next exciting life event are just not available for the majority.
What can I do? I know it will be painful for them to feel left on the scrap heap (they are not but so many can feel this way) I absolutely know from personal experience what it feel like to have all you have worked on for years be lost to the flip of fate and bad practise by people wholly unrelated to you.
So that is the preparation part, I go on about it enough for you to either consider the need or to take your chance.
So what about procrastination?
The other side of this coin is endless and frankly meaningless preparation. For every non confronter there is another character who is convincing themselves that they are going to be so well prepared that this whole nightmare of job loss and new start midlife is going to be a breeze for them.
They have taken some courses, they are now fully qualified, they have a business planned.
The course and the qualifications are in areas that there is no call for at the moment, the business planned has not been talked through and tested with anyone in the business world and the whole thing is in the theory stage. They suffer from the same issues that confound the rest of us; they do not know what they do not know.
And of course all this planning has tricked them into believing they really are doing something really useful for their future.
Of course, I have portrayed the two extremes here but there is a bit of both of them in most of us.
We fail to prepare because we perhaps do not know how to do it, we are perhaps anxious at considering the scary possibilities or perhaps we just wonder whether we will be able to rise to the challenge; are we really good enough? (and I know this will be read by some who feel they are more than good enough and that in itself is a danger!). Actually all we need is some balance good enough indeed, but we all could be better should we choose to be.
We often procrastinate for the same sorts of reasons, not knowing exactly what to do we prepare and prepare for eventualities that rarely come, and equally over preparation helps to keep the scary thoughts at bay.
Balance is the absolute answer.
Call yourself on lack of preparation – look at is right now. What are you going to do? And if you are confused, lost or anxious know you are not alone and get some support right now.
Call yourself on too much procrastination – you will never ever be able to predict what life will throw at you (you know that of course, but just really drink it in) make sure that your efforts in training and development have a reasonable chance of success and that you have tested your potential market; and that applies whether you are looking for a new job of starting a business.
So I end on two sayings that may help
Nothing is ever as good or as bad as you first think it is
And in this sporting miracle of a time that we are experiencing
Just do it
Prepare enough to feel a bit more confident but not necessarily ready to go. That ‘ready to go’ place does not exist, except when everyone else has already gone and you missed the boat, that will be the procrastination then!
You know where we are
Angela Hackett on behalf of the PiPS team