July 19, 2002
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As odd as it might sound, you will find times in your
career, and your life, when waiting will be the best action you can take.
Let me be clear, though, that I am not talking about being inactive, only
that you might find yourself waiting for the best combination of events
and effort so that you can move to the next level. In many cases, waiting
can end up being very productive.
Waiting for opportunities to align is not procrastination,.
In fact, you should be working very hard while you are waiting, not putting
off important steps you need to take. For example, you might need to wait
for the best time to leave your current job for a new one. You need to
get all your ducks into a row before you can simply quit. This is the
waiting part. The active part can include many steps.
Perhaps you need to improve your skills in specific areas that can make
you more attractive to new employers. Maybe you should work on reducing
your debt level so that you can return to school or take a vacation between
jobs. If you are thinking that you might relocate to find a better job,
why not start clearing your house or apartment of unnecessary items and
making packing plans.
Most importantly, you should not just sit around waiting for something
to happen. You should be taking every opportunity to prepare yourself
for any opportunities that might come your way.
Good vs. bad waiting
If you look a little more closely it should be easy to see the difference
between good waiting and bad waiting. It is all a matter of activity.
If you are waiting for someone to offer you a job out of the blue, you
are being extremely unrealistic. It just doesn’t happen. On the
other hand, if you are simply waiting for responses to resumes and phone
calls that you sent out last week, you are on the right track. Waiting
for the big inheritance from your rich aunt, bad. Waiting for your investments
to gain a long term return, good. Waiting for your boss to fire you, bad.
Waiting for responses to resumes and doing your job well until you quit,
You can be reasonably sure that you are not procrastinating if you are
taking some action to improve your career, even if it means you are waiting
for something else to happen. As a writer, I have to make sure that I
have new material being sent out all the time, whether it is a book proposal,
magazine article or novel. If I don’t, I will find that I am simply
waiting for lightening to strike instead of taking an active role in my
career. Of course, this means I am also constantly waiting for an answer.
Sometimes waiting can be difficult, especially if you are in a bad work
situation. That said, it can be even more difficult if you spend too much
time agonizing over your bad fortune. Once you have decided to take action
and look for a new career, you need to let go of all the problems with
your current job. Too may people continue to bewail their career problems
long after they have convinced themselves to quit. Instead, you should
see your job change as something that has already happened. You have already
taken the first step. Let it go. This will make your waiting easier.
There is no longer a need to sit around complaining with your co-workers
about this boss or this VP. Once you decide to leave, you don’t
have to invest your time in company problems. It doesn’t matter
that this person is a jerk, or another is nasty and controlling. You know
that soon, you will not have to deal with them any more. While you want
to make sure the quality of your work remains high, you will feel less
stress from the day-to-day dramas of your job. You are less invested in
the outcome of the company and, therefore, less inclined to take your
work problems home with you.
Waiting need not have the bad connotations usually associated with it.
If you are actively waiting for plans to coalesce, people to respond,
money to save, then you are on the right track. Rather than jumping from
one bad situation to another, plan, wait, then execute your plan when
the time is right and you are guaranteed the best effect. Your career
and your life are sure to benefit.