Do you often find yourself waiting until there’s a special occasion to do something? Perhaps waiting for that elusive sunny weather, a reason to celebrate, an accomplishment done to do/go/try something different or positive for yourself?
I can’t help but wonder whether regularly “saving the best ’til last” and needing a reason to do things is always the best approach. Sure, there’s something to be said for patience and there are some reasons where waiting can be useful, such as to save money. And no, you can’t always have everything you want. However… Consistently needing a reason and giving excuses under the guise of reasons means you’re forever putting your life on hold, forever delaying the chance to live the life you want. Perhaps it’s something small and inexpensive, like ‘treating’ yourself to a decadent dessert and spending time on your hobby, or perhaps it’s something bigger with a price tag, like going on that holiday you’ve always wanted. These choices to put things off probably happen more regularly than you think. Every time you feel you need a reason, you’re basically telling yourself that you’re not allowed, or not good enough, to enjoy what it is you want to enjoy. This is especially the case when waiting until you feel you’ve accomplished enough.
The problem is, there’s probably never a point where everything is good enough, where you feel you’ve done enough, and instead of living in the moment you’ll be regretful and resentful of the present and past while constantly looking to the future and repeating the cycle.
Why do we put off the good things?
- Pressure for Perfection – Perhaps you already have some ‘perfectionist tendencies’ or maybe you have a fairly set routine and comfort zone. Doing something a little different to the norm can feel almost like a one off because you rarely do it and then you build up the need for it to be ‘just so’ and go as well as possible.
- Feeling Undeserving & Guilty – Feel guilty for taking care of yourself or doing something pleasurable is common. We may feel as though we’re not good enough and don’t deserve to spend time or money on ourselves, and yet these thoughts and feelings are things we need to move past if we want to feel fulfilled and be there to support others and be the best versions of ourselves.
- The Need To Accomplish – In a similar way, you may feel that you need to have accomplished X, Y and Z before you can ‘treat’ yourself, which is a frequent dangling carrot used in our society. Starve yourself for the week to splurge on the weekend, work until you drop all week so you can celebrate on Friday night when you’re too shattered to do anything other than go to bed, put everyone else first and then take care of your needs. Sound familiar?
- Classing Things As Good/Bad – This applies particularly to food and the way we can classify them as healthy/unhealthy. Those with eating disorders are likely to experience this, especially with calorie counting or waiting for a ‘calorie deficit’ in order to ‘allow’ yourself to have a ‘treat’.
- Waiting To Feel Better – You want to enjoy doing something you look forward to, so it’s understandable to want to wait until you feel better. But with that comes the risk of putting everything off for a ‘better day’, and that day may not come, or it may take you by surprise and you’re unprepared and so you put off what you wanted to do anyway for other reasons.
What Are You Saving?
- A good film, book or a special TV series
- Using the ‘best’ cups and plates
- Dusting off the wine/whiskey/cider bottle at the back of the cupboard
- The delicious cheesecake that’s been sat in the freezer for the last 6 months
- Wearing those fancy shoes (well, you wouldn’t want to scuff them, would you?)
- Trying out a new coffee shop & treating yourself to some gooey, gorgeous cake
- Lighting those scented candles currently used as ‘decoration only’ and the pretty body lotions sat untouched simply cluttering your bathroom cabinet
- A day trip to somewhere new (perhaps you’re waiting for the elusive sunny, dry & warm weather, which means you’ll likely leave your house only a handful of times each year in the UK!)
Why It’s Not Always The Best Idea
- With the want for something to be perfect and go as well as possible comes mounting anxiety and stress and heightened expectations, and then it can all end up going pear-shaped anyway; best laid plans can go belly up, things don’t live up to expectations and leave you feeling disappointed.
- Putting things off can lead to a cycle of procrastination, negativity and indecision.
- By denying yourself the things you want and need, and the joys in life from even the simplest of things, you’re forever putting yourself at the bottom of the list.
- Time runs away from us. Before we know it, we’re looking back at all of the things we haven’t done, the excuses we’ve made, the negative feelings associated with why we never did what we wanted to do. Regretting the things not done is painful.
How To Stop Saving The Best ‘Til Last
- You don’t earn the ability or the permission to be happy and to enjoy life. Instead of waiting until you feel you’ve accomplished enough or are ‘deserving’ enough, remember that everyone is entitled to seek happiness, that you have the freedom of choice to live your own life the way you want.
- Focus on the here and now – Mindfulness is a great practice for appreciating the joy of the moment, and you can’t savour that and appreciate the life you’re living right now if you’re regretting the past or putting things of until the future.
- Dig a little deeper and consider why you’re delaying things, putting them off, saving them for a special occasion. Of course, we don’t always get what we want and it can be good to save some things for certain reasons (in order to appreciate them more, to be careful with our money, etc). But if you’re finding that you’re forever pushing the good things to the back of the queue and feeling like you’re missing out, then it’s time to figure out why.
- Get some perspective on what matters to you, what’s really important, and how life should be filled with experiences rather than regrets. Take a deep breath and just say Fuck It!
- If you’re indecisive, write up a little list of anything and everything you’ve wanted to do / use / try, the big things and the small things, and go for something little every now and again. Once you start to live a little more freely and say ‘yes’, doing so should become a little easier.
- Ask yourself this : What will matter in a year, two years, ten years, or 30 years from now? Will I regret even the smallest, seemingly simplest, things I’ve not done? If there the end of the world was tomorrow, would I be frustrated and disappointed for having put off the best till last until it’s too late?