Recently, I felt that a coaching session was quite successful because a client arrived at the conclusion that she should not currently pursue her goal. As a coach, I encourage my clients to set themselves up for success and to be open to the coaching process yielding what is best for them – rather than what they originally set out to do. Sometimes in life, the best course of action is postponement – not move forward and not give up. How do we arrive at the conclusion of postponement as best for us? What do we do with this option to keep from feeling like we are giving up or spinning our wheels? How do we make “not now” work for us?
When to Consider “Not Now” an Option
Whether you are working with a coach or exploring a goal on your own, it’s important to set yourself up for success and to evaluate the achievability of your goal. I encourage my clients to have a vision of their goals and a roadmap that indicates the steps and resources needed to achieve their goals before they implement a plan of action. With that in mind, here are some indicators that “not now” is the best answer for you:
- Lack of vision or unclear vision of your goal. If you are not clear about what it is that you want to achieve, chances are that you are not ready to implement a plan of action to achieve your goal.
- Inadequate resources. If you do not have enough time, money, skills, energy, or support to achieve your goal, you run the risk of failure, burnout, or disappointment.
My client had thought about starting her own business for years. When we initially met for coaching, she had enough clarity about her goal in terms of her services and a general timeframe to start her business in earnest. However, as we began to establish a roadmap that indicated the steps to complete and resources that she would need to start this business, it became apparent that she did not have several things in place to support her starting a business. She needed some more information and skills, which she probably could acquire somewhat easily with some time. Additionally, she wasn’t confident that her current financial situation made pursuing this business a viable option. Furthermore, due to other circumstances impacting her family, which likely would resolve over time, she did not think that she had the time and energy to devote to starting the business at the time. After weighing these factors, my client decided that the time to start her business was: “not now.”
How to Benefit from “Not Now”
Deciding to postpone a goal can be disappointing. However, there are several things that you can do to benefit from postponing a goal.
- Affirm your decision. Recognize that you arrived at the decision not to pursue your goal right now because you weighed several important factors. This was not a choice to give up, but to postpone until circumstances would change to set you up for success with this goal.
- Strengthen your foundation. If you have determined that certain factors were not currently suitable for you to pursue your goal, what can you do to optimize those factors so that you will be in a better position to pursue your goal at a later time? Do you need more information? Training for skills? More money set aside? What needs to be in place before you pursue your goal? Do what you can to put those things in place to set yourself up for success.
- Make the best of this time. While your goal is on hold, make the best of your life as it is. Perhaps not pursuing this goal gives you more time to devote to relationships, health, work, or other areas of your life. Ask yourself, “how can I make the best of things now while I’m postponing my goal?”
- Schedule a revisit of your goal. If the answer is “not now,” then schedule a time to revisit whether conditions have changed enough for you to pursue the goal. Should you check again in 6 months? 2 years? After a particular milestone in your life? Make sure you have a plan to reevaluate whether you should pursue the goal so that your goal does not go by the wayside unintentionally.
When my client decided not to pursue starting a business, she seemed happier and more relaxed than in our earlier coaching sessions. She experienced less stress because she let go of pursuing something that did not have a strong foundation. She was able to affirm the decision as something that was in the interest of her self-care, family, and values. She then had more time and mental and emotional energy to devote to her relationships, leisure, and other ways of earning an income. She believed that our work was valuable because she was more clear on what would be needed for her to pursue this goal in the future and because our work allowed her to let go of this goal for now. If you arrive at a decision of “not now,” may you find the same peace that my client did, and make the best of the time you have now so your goal can become possible later.