February 2015

Getting ready to get ready

Celebrating indecision

yes-no.lowres.istockphotoWe had a brand-new student show up to the morning yoga class a few weeks ago. I asked him if he had any questions before we started.

He said, “I’m a beginner. I’ve seen the sign for a few months now, and finally decided to come.”

He said he and a colleague he works with talked it over and decided to give it a try. He came (and has been coming for a few weeks now). But she hasn’t come…yet.

It makes me wonder what makes some people ready, and others take longer to decide and to take action.

It takes courage to show up for something new. Courage, readiness — and a few other magic ingredients.

No one ever talks about the stages of making a decision to start something new. With so much pressure to “just do it, ” no one extols the virtues of indecision.

But I’m here to tell you are some! (Yep…I’m from that alien anti-just-do-it world of yes-no and stay-go.)

You’re undecided now, and what are you going to do? (yep, that’s how the song goes!)  Or, maybe you’re different…but I spend way more time getting ready to be ready than actually being ready.

I got real tired of the bad rap I was always giving myself for not being ready to go-for-it, bite-the-bullet, and make-stuff-happen.

But my frown turned upside down the day I finally decided to embrace my decidedly indecisive nature.  I felt a lot better, and that was enough for me.

Then I learned there is science to back me up on this.

I have found that trying something new is like that for me. If I change anything, I usually think about it for a long while before I actually do anything.

Change is never really an event. It’s more a process that unfolds over time.

And the indecision period where you are just contemplating doing something is often overlooked. But I think it’s the most important part. You’re undecided now, and what are you going to do?

I thought it was just me, but it turns out…

It turns out, some very smart people have done some research on this very topic, and given it a fancy scientific name: The Transtheoretical Model or TTM (Prochaska, DiClemente, & Norcross)

Here are the stages of change:
Not ready (precontemplation – undecided)
Getting ready (contemplation – a little less undecided)
Ready (preparation – decided but not doing it yet)
Doing it! (action)

I think these stages are more for study and discussion purposes. I never ask myself if I am pre-contemplating or just contemplating something. I just know I’m either battling back and forth between yes and no.

I’m undecided. Or I’m decidedly going to do something.

Some of may be more complicated than this TTM theory allows for.  Like me.

I find myself often not-ready-but-hoping-to-soon-be-getting-ready-to-be-ready. Quite an interesting place to be. This is when I am not rebelling against the idea of taking action, but I am still examining the pros and cons. Yes-no. Stay-go.

(Click here for my favorite song on the subject: Undecided by Ella Fitzgerald. Now there’s a woman who knows that a little scat-singing and a jazz beat goes a long way toward celebrating even the indecision that hurts.)

“Hmmm…maybe I will create a special spot to put my keys when I walk in the front door so I don’t lose them,” I think.

The not-ready-rebellious me says,
No way. That would involve too much work. I would have to find the right spot. I would have to go shopping for a special hook or container or whatever to contain my keys. It would take too much time. It would cost too much money. It would have to match my decor…blah-de-blah.”

My not-ready but getting-ready self says,
“Well, I am tired of losing my keys in my house. It makes me late in the mornings. When I can’t find them I feel anxious. When I finally find them, I jump in my car and drive crazy to get where I’m going. It sure would feel better to start the day knowing where my keys are. Maybe I can find an inexpensive container for my keys.”

The early stages of contemplation are subtle, and maybe not even visible to anyone but me. I haven’t actually done anything about my key-losing problem – yet.

It brings me great comfort to think of my not-readiness as an important part of the change process.

Even if you are resistent, rebellious, umotivated or ambivalent, you could be closer to taking action than you realize.

From my experience, you can’t rush it. It happens when you are ready. (Or getting ready to think about being ready.)

Of course, you can surround yourself with positive support and reminders. You can create logs, schedules, or accountability partners. Things like these help some people. But usually not me.

I do better if I let myself off the hook, and give myself time to just think about what I might do once I’m ready.

Perhaps you’re like me…Just thinking about starting yoga (or flossing daily or eating your vegetables or having more fun…) is an important part of the process.

Namaste.

Leahsignature