When I was in the military most of the time was peacetime. During that peacetime we trained, drilled, and prepared for the inevitable deployment or activation. Of course during activations we were high-tempo and used to change, but during the lag times we didn’t lay idle. We were always in prep mode. And this point is the most important.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are weeks or even months from taking action on something significant in your life the “idle” time before shouldn’t be seen as idle at all.
I remember going through chemotherapy for 8 1/2 months. At first I was training in the gym a few days per week, but once the chemo dug in and accumulated in my system I had to forego gym time and simply stay healthy. It was a defining moment. So, how do you use this lag time to your advantage?
It’s easy and tempting to sit around and wait. Waiting for things to get better, back to normal. Always being forward thinkers we tend to dream and imagine what it will be like after whatever we are going through is over. Then we can finally get back to life. Back to how things used to be and move ahead.
This can be a big mistake. Sometimes (well, most of the time really) the hardships we go through lend us a glimpse of a new perspective, a new way to view our situation that was vexing us or a trial we were subject to. We see things through a different lens without any warning.
Whether we wanted it or not we are taken from our comfortable place in our little universe and thrust out into a cold, uncomfortable, sometimes painful place of instability. It can suck. It can make us feel weak and useless. It can make us want to crawl in a ball, close our eyes, and wait it out. But it’s the wrong thing to do. It’s instead a golden opportunity.
Draw Battle Plans
That is our default reaction: to wait it out until the storm passes. We feel like survival is priority and all else must pause. But then a funny thing happens. We grow an odd comfort to the new norm. After the initial shock of the new situation wears off we adopt, somehow, some way, a small sliver of peace and familiarity with our new universe. Smaller, more cramped, and still a bit uncomfortable we’ve successfully expanded our comfort zone.
And this is the moment you take. The moment you seize.
That moment when things settle just slightly, when the smallest sense of normalcy creeps in is when you start drawing your battle plans. This is your planning period. It’s a unique, once in a lifetime chance to take a breath, see the new perspective for what it’s worth, and begin to use it to your advantage.
When I was finally used to the chemo treatments I was able to start to make my plan to get back into the gym and compete again. No, I wasn’t actually going to the gym. I was devising new training routines, scouring nutrition information, and (this is most important) using mental imagery in a positive way.
I had to come to peace with my current situation and use that time wisely.
Make your battle plans. Do something productive with your time. Don’t sit around and scroll through social media for the 97th time. That’s just wasting your time (literally).
A Few Suggestions
There are many ways to utilize this time. I’ve listed a few below.
- Start a new writing project (blog or book)
- Start a Youtube channel or podcast that helps others
- If your looking for a new job, research new skills and available avenues
- Volunteer your knowledge or skills for others
- Develop a new skill or talent (music, coding, anatomy, etc.)
- Start a journal
- Start to meditate
- Read more and on a schedule
- Learn a new language or subject
- Exercise on a regular schedule
- Learn to eat healthier
These are just a few. Use this time to your advantage and you’ll have a head start when the storm passes. By then you’ll have built up a significant amount of momentum and will power.
What are some things you’ve done or suggest to do with this vital time?