Wait. Such a simple word. Stop for just a moment. A few moments, maybe. Be still. Calm. Quiet. Don't do anything. Just. Wait.
You've probably done this type of exercise before. I remember doing this type of thing in high school. A teacher would tell the class to stop talking, clear off our desks, and just sit there. All we could hear was the ticking of the standard classroom clock behind us. Seconds turned into minutes. Minutes turned into what felt like hours.
The teacher would break the silence, "Anyone have any idea how long that was?"
A few students would guess (5 minutes, 10 minutes, etc). At every guess the teacher would shake their head, "No," they would say, "it was just two minutes. One hundred and twenty seconds." We would all laugh, shake our heads in amazement, and that's about it. Just be amazed. How could two minutes feel like such an eternity?
Such a simple word, yet so difficult to actually do.
It was painful. Sitting there, not knowing how much time had passed. What was the point? Why did we have to just sit there and wait?
I'm sure every teacher had a different lesson they were trying to teach. And I'm also sure they would tell us this lesson and try to explain that this particular lesson would be very valuable to remember as we would grow older. I have since forgotten all of these lessons, but have probably experienced most of them first hand in the years that have passed.
As I look back at my life, and I pick out a few parts (especially from the last 10 years or so) that were particularly painful as I went through them, I begin to see a pattern.
At each moment, at each point in time where I was making a decision between two options, I was ignoring the third option. That third option was to wait. Literally. Just stop. Wait. Think. Depending on the situation this could have only required a few seconds to make a difference. Others, a few days, weeks, months, maybe years. But, if I would have chosen to wait, things would have happened much differently after that point in time. Some of the outcomes would have been much better than what they were, others would have been worse.
My point is this: when you find yourself conflicted, when you have the opportunity to make a decision, stop. Literally. Just stop where you are, and wait. I can't tell you how long you'll need to wait, but I encourage you to do so. Wait until you know you have waited long enough to make a better decision than you would have just two minutes ago. Do this today.