I have been pondering this question lately and have not been able to come up with any satisfactory answer. It first hit me in a conversation I had with my mom, during which she was recounting a talk she had with a young woman explaining how she was waiting for everything in her life to be perfect before starting a family. My mom and her best friend, both women who have faced many situations where they have had what I like to call Tim Gunn Moments, assured this other person that there is no such thing as perfect timing. There is always something else.
Another moment I realized I cannot find a good excuse to wait for things that I want for my life happened while my mother in law was visiting a few months ago. I was complaining about how hectic the last couple years have been with school and I said I wished I had waited for a time when I was more financially stable and didn’t have to work full time to go to graduate school. To that she replied, “Will there ever be a time like that?” And you know what? The answer is no.
Now this is a scary thought for me. I am a perfectionist and a bit of a control freak and I love to plan my life very far in advance. The idea that there is no such thing as the absolute perfect time forces me to let go and trust that things will work out whether I have the plan all figured out or not. It also allows me to accept my life with all of its imperfections and appreciate the fact that there will always be imperfections and that is ok. Although I’ve always thought I had my life plans all figured out, when I really think about it I can’t imagine a time where everything would be perfect to go to graduate school. Four years ago, I decided I had career goals that included furthering my education and I found myself at a point in life where I could just pack up and move to another state, live on a tight budget, and just go for it. Although I have an enormous amount of student loan debt from not waiting until I could pay for school out of pocket or at least waiting until I established residency in the state I wanted to attend school, and although balancing a heavy school and work schedule the last three years has been absolutely exhausting, I have accomplished my goals, met incredible people, grown professionally and personally, and cannot imagine this experience any other way.
This idea that there will never be perfect conditions applies to health and fitness as well. I could have waited until I was done with school and had a more stable work/life schedule to start really getting into shape and learning how to eat clean, and yes, graduate school and working in social work are fabulous excuses to make for eating like crap and not taking care of my body. But what would be the advantages of waiting until I was done with school? Maybe a bit more free time and possibly some extra income, but are those a better trade off for the extra weight I may have gained, the unhealthy habits I had engrained into my routine, or my diminished self esteem? Furthermore, when I envision my next steps, I imagine a career in social work, which is almost always guaranteed to be stressful, and starting a family, which means I won’t have that much more free time than I do now. So, why wait?
Simultaneously beginning my health and fitness journey and graduate school has had so many benefits. Most importantly, I have made a habit of carving out at least one hour every single day to do something for myself and that one hour of daily exercise has made me physically and mentally stronger. I take pride in the physical strength I have gained, which boosts my self esteem. I have more energy to put into my work, and taking care of my health and wellness enables me to be a better social worker, student, family member, friend, and partner. I have had the opportunity to get to know some really amazing and inspiring people who are also interested in improving their lives through healthy living. Learning about fitness and healthy cooking has been a great thing for my partner and I to do that does not involve either of our work. We can cook, try new recipes, and work out together, which has resulted in some hilarious learning moments and ensured that we make time for each other and ourselves as much as possible. We challenge each other to conquer new fitness goals and have fun exploring our new state through hikes and bike rides. We recently started bouldering at a local gym and are completely hooked. It has become something fun and active that we do with friends who share similar interests. It is exciting to think about the healthy habits we are establishing for our future family, as well as how those healthy habits will keep us alive and well to enjoy many many years together. It is fun to get dressed up in clothes I feel confident in and go on dates together. Plus healthy living ain’t bad for your sex life either. 😉
So, I challenge you to think about the excuses you are making for why you aren’t reaching your goals, whatever they are. Do you think you’ll find the perfect moment later or are there deeper reasons you are resisting change? What would happen if you stopped waiting and started going for it? What steps can you make right this second that can help you achieve those goals?
No matter what, I trust that you will make it work and you can succeed. Stop waiting for those perfect conditions, they aren’t coming and that’s ok.