Not Yet vs. Now

When our youngest son was two years old, he was not in the habit of saying, "No!" Instead, he would usually respond to requests by saying, "not yet." Reflecting on his habit, it was a brilliant strategy because it was not an outright refusal to comply with the request, which would have caused some parental pushback. In some ways, his "not yet" did mean "yes" with a different perception of timeframes.

I recognize he comes by his "not yet" way of thinking honestly. I incorporate the same "not yet" strategy with myself to delay doing something that would be beneficial to do, but I do not yet feel like. The problem with this strategy is the "not yet" never comes. Yes, I plan to exercise, call a friend, organize my workshop, get out of bed earlier, etc., just not yet. One of these days, I will get around to it, just don't ask me which one of these days.

These delays offer me instant gratification because it is less effort to do nothing than to get out of bed, go exercise, make a phone call, or get organized, but in the end, I feel less satisfied. In response to my dissatisfaction with my tendency to continually delay doing the things I know will ultimately improve my quality of life, the word I chose for 2023 is "Now!" My chosen word is a reminder to act in the present moment instead of delaying action for some unspecified future moment.

Now do not think for a second my life has been transformed by my chosen word. I have made a point to contact some of my friends, but I rarely get up any earlier, I almost never exercise, though I did just take a short break to do some pushups, and my workshop is still unorganized. Humans are creatures of habit and change is hard because it goes against the flow of our natural tendencies. Sometimes habits are so ingrained and tenacious we may need a professional to help us work through the stages of change. Sometimes all it takes is saying, yes, now, or here I go. It always starts with one small step in the right direction.

What is the one thing you know would be beneficial for you to do, but have been putting off repeatedly? What would happen if you began it now?

Chip Bender, Registered Psychotherapist (qualifying)
Interfaith Community Counselling Centre
A member of the Counselling Collaborative of Waterloo Region

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