When the time is ripe.
I was addicted to a deadline like my dog is addicted to Stella and Chewy’s. In my early days in TV, if I “missed slot” there would be a black hole on air where my :30 promo was supposed to be and I would be fired. So I learned to do things fast. I applied this news cycle principle of resolving everything in minutes, if not seconds, to crying babies, unresponsive husbands, the IRS, teenaged children, plumbers, vacation plans, relatives of all kinds. My wife, the high-powered media executive, recently put it this way: “The fast eat the slow.”
At the risk of being labeled a dinosaur or a fool, I now beg to differ.
“It is looking at things for a long time that ripens you and gives you a deeper meaning.”
― Vincent Van Gogh
A year ago, instead of leaping to “The Answer” (or its cousin, Incessant Worrying), about creating a new vocation, I took the longer approach. I tried on job ideas like exotic clothing, like a kimono or a sari. I was curious about how it would fit and open to looking completely silly. I took vocation ideas for long walks and threw them up to the tree tops, watching them jump from limb to limb. I asked the dog what she thought about working. I even left the decision completely alone on a bookshelf to survive without me, to see how that would go. And when somebody asked me “how’s the new job idea going?” I stifled the impulse to apologize for taking so much time to PLAY with my very important BIG DECISION.
Long story, short, I gave the decision time to RIPEN IN ME. The job I thought I wanted a year ago, when I was still blinded by my old job, was more of the same from the past 30 years—deadlines, financial goals, security, and what others thought of me. When I took my time to play with ideas and imagine what I really wanted out of work, I (re)discovered the juicy and delicious parts of work that I love. Over time, I gained the perspective and the courage to discard the parts that were familiar and had long passed their freshness date. The work I eventually chose, after allowing the light and the fresh air and the sun to ripen me, is far more surprising, refreshing, inspiring and satisfying than I could have imagined a year ago.
So don’t be in a hurry. Go for a walk. What can you choose to let ripen in you for a while?