Stop playing the waiting game

waiting gameOh, the waiting game. Dr. Seuss said some pretty clever things in his books.  Of that, I think we can all agree.  This one is one of my favorite reminders:

Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring,
or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow.

Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.

Everyone is just waiting.

It’s true that our society has developed this mentality of waiting for the next-best-thing-that-will-make-me-happy.  But that’s for another post.

What I’m talking about with the waiting game is different when you are in the midst of transition and feeling like life is more chaotic than normal. It’s the waiting game that happens when you are in the midst of something big.  Waiting for medical tests…waiting for the results…waiting for the treatment to begin…waiting to recover…waiting to get back to work…waiting for normal life again.   Waiting for your husband to move out…waiting for a finalized separation agreement…waiting for your new home…waiting for the money you need to move your life forward…waiting for a judge somewhere out there to confirm your agreement and finally set you free.

Waiting for those things that are out of your control to happen so you can move forward.  And that waiting often feels like hell. It’s hard because the waiting is out of your control. Someone else needs to act, and needs to act in your favor, so you can take the next step in achieving your life’s goals. The waiting has an undercurrent of fear because that ‘someone else’ might not act in your favor. They might give you bad news. They might decide against you. You might get the diagnosis of the illness you were afraid of. Might lose the house you dreamed of. Might be ruled against in a divorce court.

And then what?

Dr. Seuss had more to say about the waiting game.  Of course he gave us some inspiration to move forward. Yes, everyone is just waiting.  But!

Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

With banner flip-flapping,
once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

(or girl – it just doesn’t have the same rhythm to it 😉 )

No matter what’s going on in your life now – maybe a little bit of change and chaos, maybe a lot – one of my greatest wishes for you is that you can see the possibility of finding the bright places again. And even if you are playing the waiting game, there are ways to keep moving towards those bright places.

Trouble is, it’s easy to get lost in the focus of whatever you’re waiting on.  To feel like you can’t possibly move life forward until that is out-of-the-way.

But here’s the deal.  There are probably a lot of other things you can be doing to take control of your life and get things back on track. Starting now.

Whatever that thing you are waiting on is, it’s still going to be there for a while.  So you might as well get on with the business of living the rest of your life.

How to Stop the Waiting Game and Move Into Momentum

The key to moving out of the waiting game and into the momentum of your life is to focus on what you CAN do and what IS in your control.  It’s about developing a new habit and creating new commitment to yourself and your life. Each and every day.

The new habit is ‘today I’m going to do one thing to move my life forward.’  The commitment is ‘I deserve the life of my dreams and I’m taking action to get there.’

The thing I most often hear when I’m having this conversation with clients is ‘but where do I start.’ Here’s how to figure it out.

  • Create a list of all the things you know you need to do for yourself. This is not a time to judge yourself for not having it all done already, nor is it (ideally) an exercise in overwhelm.  Just create a list.  Even in creating the list you will hopefully start to feel a little bit better as you let go of all the things you’re holding onto in your head. And as you create the list, it might become obvious where to start.
  • Take a piece of paper (or easier yet, use this template) Divide your list into 4 groupings:
    • urgent and important
    • urgent and unimportant
    • non-urgent and important
    • non-urgent and unimportant
      Now put each item on your list into the proper quadrant.
  • Before you go any further, now that you’ve assigned meaning to these things, are there any you would remove from the list? Especially those that ended up in the non-urgent and unimportant quadrant.
  • If you didn’t already have a sense of where to get started just from writing the list, this breakdown can give you a good sense of where you can put your time and effort to begin creating momentum in the parts of your life you do have control over. I like to take a 2-pronged approach.  I look for the low-hanging fruit – the things that are on my list that are easy to do so that I can check them off and feel a sense of accomplishment.  At the same time, I look for the things that are weighing most heavily on me – usually found in the urgent and important quadrant.  I focus my other efforts in getting those things done, or at least in getting them started.

These simple steps will give you a guide for what you can begin doing, even today, to create forward momentum in your life.  To regain a sense of control in being able to move your life forward. To stop putting power into that waiting game and start putting the power to lead your life back into your own hands.

Are you ready to get started?

In case you aren’t familiar with it, today’s Seussisms came from Oh, The Places You’ll Go! It’s one of my favorite inspirational works 🙂

Photo Credit: Cricava Technologies |

Follow Rachel Bolton:

Rachel is a coach supporting women to rediscover who they are beyond the *shoulds* of life. To create and live life on purpose.

Latest posts from

Leave a Reply