The Dangerous Space Between Pause and Procrastination

The international space station “sits” over 220 miles above the earth’s surface in what is essentially called “low earth orbit“.  Inside, the environment is pressurized for comfort as well as simple survival of its inhabitants.  Often, astronauts are called to exit the safety of the station and enter the vast vacuum of space for a “space walk”.  Before they are able to safely transfer from the pressurized environment inside the station, they must enter an “airlock“.  This is a small chamber with two doors, in which the pressure is regulated.  Without this chamber, exiting would be disastrous. While inside, the astronauts must wait out  the changes.  Imagine your  first trip into space as you prepare to make that first space walk; fear and doubt surface. As time goes by, you are caught between the relative safety of the space station and the vast unknown of space.
You  now find yourself in the space between the comfort of the status quo and the pressure of pursuing your ambitions. You have decided to pursue your dream of owning a boutique coffee shop (insert your dream here) and are researching next steps.  Hours upon hours of studying coffee beans, interning at local shops, learning the culture, and doing everything necessary to prepare yourself to fully commit to your dream.  While sitting in the “airlock” of life, you are reminded of the relative safety of your day job and the status quo.  The stable work hours, company car, health care, and the  weekly pay check. The quaint beauty  of the venetian Cafe’ from your honeymoon hits a spot on your heart and awakens your spirit to live beyond the 9-5. After several “false starts” in years past, you are equipped and focused to believe this is real and that you will flawlessly execute your plan of owning a boutique coffee shop.

How do you trust the voices in your head telling you to press the pause button?  You have family commitments, a day job, and a life beyond the coffee shop. You are forging ahead to prove to the voices of doubt, that you aren’t on another false start.  Pausing to evaluate where you are is like pulling to the side of the road read the map.  You must find where you are at a this moment on your journey to make necessary adjustments. Enable the “location services” on your journey. The voices of doubt tell you that you are failing again if you hit pause.  You are confusing the pause button with procrastination.  Here is a list of 5 things to consider as you navigate between pausing and procrastination.  Remember that pausing is necessary to stay on your course.  Procrastination is your internal fear stealing your dream of awesomeness.

Map of the World in 1922

Map of the World in 1922 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Build adjustment time and flexibility into your plan:  Jon Acuff discusses, in Quitter , that we must practice our dream in a low stakes environment in order to become a master.  Planning too early leaves no room for flexibility and will focus us on the plan rather than the ultimate goal.
2. Milestones: Build manageable, accountable, and measurable milestones into your plan: Mike Vardy of, recently wrote about doing the right things rather than just doing things (activity vs right activity).  Milestones should have rough timeliness, but don’t back yourself in a corner with your calendar.  Leave room for soccer practice and date night with your wife.  A looming “due date” rather than relative milestone will awaken the voices of doubt.
3. Stand on the shoulders of giants: Read, listen, and watch others who have come before you. Others most likely blazed a similar path to the one you are on.  They will likely embrace the idea of sharing their journey with a fellow traveler.  Seeing that “life happens” to others, and success can and usually follows deliberate pauses will be encouraging and provide valuable instruction to you on your travel to awesomeness.
4.  Seasons change:  Life has different seasons.  You must recognize your responsibilities are different with 3 school age children at home than with college age kids out of the house.  Its imperative that you are intentional and deliberate during your busy season.  Intentionality will provide you focus and direction to appropriately work  your dream as well as “permission” to “work” on other things, without loosing.   As with seasons of the year, things will change.  If you are not careful and intentional important moments will pass you by.
5.  Have fun:  It’s your dream!  If you are not enjoying the journey, maybe you are on the wrong flight!
Share with me the craziest season of your life, and how you got through it.
Rocco De Leo