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There are a fair number of things in life that we have some degree of control over.
If you want to lose weight, you could follow a nutrition plan and work with a personal trainer. It might take time, but with consistent effort you would be guaranteed to see changes.
Or maybe you decide to go back to grad school, but you’ve got to take the GRE first. So you buy the prep books, enroll in a class, and take practice exams until you feel positive that you’ll ace the test.
And if you feel the urge to up and move to Colorado, you could save money, hire movers, rent an apartment, and haul yourself across the country. No need to wait on anything or anyone to make that happen.
But there are just as many things that we have no control over — things that matter to us a whole lot that we can’t guarantee or force to happen at all.
Finding a dream job. Meeting your life partner. Having your business take off.
It’s waiting for these things — the things we can never guarantee, that could potentially never happen — that drives us nuts.
While we’re waiting, it’s SO easy to start wondering:
“What am I doing wrong?” and “Is there something about ME that’s making this not happen?” and “What if this just isn’t in the cards for me?”
Cue instant depression, hopelessness, and malaise.
PASSIVE WAITING TOTALLY SUCKS
When we’re passively waiting, we feel completely at the effect of the world.
No control, no choice, no power. We’re at the mercy of whomever, or whatever, to deign to grant us what we want.
And let’s face it: humans are really bad at feeling out of control.
When we feel powerless, we get grouchy and lethargic and stuck. We start looking around at what we do have and feeling resentful of it. Passively waiting brings out the worst in us, in that way.
Personally, when I was waiting around for my business to take off, every day I’d wake up and think, “Oh look, another day of not being successful. Yet another day that PROVES nothing has changed.”
That’s what’s so insidious about waiting around … you start to see the lack of what you want everywhere.
Day by day, your mood grows worse and worse because each day that you don’t have what you want is just more evidence that you won’t get it.
WHAT YOU WANT IS NOW ON A DIFFERENT LEVEL THAN YOU
And of course, that’s the irony of it all:
Because you’ve done such a good job of “proving” to yourself that it’s not coming, you make it SO much harder for that thing to actually show up.
Think about your mood as a radio tower. When you’re broadcasting Grouchy, Depressed, & Hopeless FM you’re ONLY going to see, hear, and attract things that are on the same frequency as you.
Which means that positively anything — clues, signs, opportunities, people — related to what you want can’t reach you because they’re not on your station.
They happen to be playing on Jazzed and Fulfilled and Passionate FM … and you can’t exactly listen to two stations at the same time. You feel me on that?
LET’S CHANGE THE STATION, WHY DON’T WE?
Passively waiting sends us spiraling into a funk because it lacks purpose. It feels pointless, like we’re wasting time and spinning our wheels.
Which is why the best way to wait — and to move ourselves up to that higher frequency station — is to wait actively.
The biggest difference between passive and active waiting is this:
Instead of skeptically doubting whether what you want will ever show up, you assume that what you want is inevitably coming, and you start preparing accordingly.
WHAT ACTIVE WAITING LOOKS LIKE
I have a friend who’s been waiting to see money and clients consistently flow in to her business. It’s happened, but more so in fits and starts.
The other day she told me that she’d finally got her LLC paperwork sorted out and established a real business bank account.
And that same week, within 24 hours of each other, she got two new clients who are really eager to start working with her ASAP.
She could have complained that what she wanted wasn’t coming … but instead, she got serious about her business being a solid landing place for clients to arrive, and then they did.
I know a woman in her 30’s who’s enthusiastic about the prospect of getting married and starting a family. But she’s single, and she doesn’t want to rush into a relationship — or marriage, or pregnancy, for that matter — and be one of those women who settles because she feels victim to her biological clock.
She’s also not interested in online dating … so what’s a girl to do?
Well, she went and hired a personal trainer at the gym. (Wait, say what?)
To her, this makes perfect sense because: A) She’s interested in being part of a physically active partnership, and B) She wants to be in great shape for chasing a future munchkin around.
A lot of people might call her crazy or overly wishful, but I LOVE her approach.
She’s focused on becoming the kind of person she wants to be when she has what she wants.
The fact that she’s not bemoaning what she doesn’t have is getting her WAY closer to actually having it.
HOW CAN YOU START ACTIVELY WAITING?
If your dream job were to land in your lap tomorrow, is your résumé the kind you’d want your ideal employer to see?
If you want a spouse to share your home, do they have enough space in your closet for their stuff? Or do you maybe need to get rid of some junk?
If you were randomly offered a trip to Europe, could you go next week? Or would your passport be out of date?
If you want more money, how well are you taking care of the money you already have?
Once you start actively waiting, you’re naturally going to lift up to that higher, jazzy frequency.
You infuse hope, excitement, and expectation into a subject that’s typically made you feel completely powerless.
And that newfound sense of purpose you’ll feel? That’s what will get you through the waiting.
I’d love to hear, in the comments, how you can start preparing for the inevitable arrival of what you want.
Rachel (& Kristen)
P.S. This blog was inspired by a post by Danielle LaPorte called The Principles of Active Waiting vs. feeling-like-a-loser, losing-your-mind kind of waiting. I totally recommend you read it! She’s one of the few people I read religiously, without fail.