How do you play a waiting game?

© Can Stock Photo / Evgeniy_p
When we had small children and busy schedules, my husband would say "cherish dull moments."

But moments can stretch and become uncomfortably long. I teach in a system that has been on strike for about 5 weeks. The end may or may not be in sight, and even if it is, the results of the waiting are unpredictable. For me, it is not a matter of life or death, but it does impact my ability to plan for my business and my life. I don't know if I'll get paid again or when. I don't know how I will manage a too-heavy schedule with few breaks. I don't know when I will decide it's time to make a change, since life is risky either way.

Does this sound familiar? On any given day, many of the people you encounter are playing a waiting game for something not quite predictable and possibly unpleasant. While I've been waiting out the strike, I've been observing the way waiting influences my states and choices. Here are three things I have been doing to stay focused on what I want while trapped in the hallway of life:
  1. Make tangible progress where you can. I've set up a plan for new programs, scheduled the first of them, and gone through them with my team. Whatever does or does not happen, I can point to these courses as things that started while I was waiting. I've also cleaned and reorganized all my kitchen cupboards.
  2. Be mindful of your state. Notice the signs of stress as they show up in your thoughts and your body (especially when you would rather be sleeping). Label these as signals that waiting is stressful. Accept and be gentle with yourself (and maybe with the people around you).
  3. Create interruptions by connecting deeply with other people. There's nothing that uses so much of your brain as being fully present and engaged with others. When you dive into a connection with all your best stuff, you create a break in the endless internal dialogue about what comes next.
  4. When in doubt, watch a good video, listen to a podcast, or read a good book. Learning makes everything better.


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