Efficiently Late

In Nov 2008, I was driving to a meeting, leaving at the time I should’ve been arriving, as usual. I thought about an example from my childhood I’d just written into my book about always being the last one in the car. What was I trying to communicate with this 50-year pattern of behavior?

I’d gotten as far as understanding that I liked to be prepared. Hearing that from my parents instead of the rhetorical question, “What took you so long?” would have helped, but that wasn’t the whole thing.

Neither was my more recent awareness that I like to be efficient. Efficiency explained why I use every last minute to do “just one more thing” before I go and moved me in the right direction but didn’t break the pattern. I still felt compelled to do one more thing before leaving. What was that about?

In the car it finally hit me. What I was trying to communicate since childhood was, “I have things I have to do first!” Simple as that. Notice the “have to?” That’s what kids say when they think what they want doesn’t matter.

But now I can see my real communication to the world has always been: “I have things I want to do first.” There it is – breaking through my subconscious after years and years of denial. How better to express that what I want matters than to have it come up as a “have to” just at the time when I’m supposed to leave? It can’t be missed when people are waiting.

I hated that, too, by the way. My first thought was always, “Just go on without me.” I never could deal with making people do things they didn’t want to do, especially if it was “just” because I wanted something. My deep denial kept me safe from seeing my communication until I was ready to accept that what I want matters.

Now that I get it, I can see it was a brilliant unconscious strategy. When people don’t leave or start without you, you get a glimpse that what you want matters. Forward natural movement by tiny increments is better than none at all, but figuring out your communication and SAYing WHAT YOU SEE to yourself works quicker!


  1. Julia Foree |

    Wow,, this is great!
    How about an update-Where did you go from there?
    I’m still a bit new at this to be confident I can think my way through to the behavior change….though I suspect it has to do with giving yourself time in other ways?

  2. Julia,

    Suppose you realize that what you want is to be somewhere on time AND to be prepared. In a world where what you want matters, you can do both. All you have to do is set time aside for preparation first. Ridiculously simple, but totally impossible when you have something you “have to” communicate. Thankfully, our personal growth naturally takes precedence over all.

    What to do after you reveal a blocked communication is actually simple IF you can trust the process. Just SAY WHAT YOU SEE whenever it comes up and trust your mind to reorganize your thoughts in its own time. Suddenly, thoughts will shift, and you will have more freedom in your behavior.

    But yes, you need to give yourself plenty of time validating “what you want matters.” Sound familiar?

    Thanks for your comment.

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