Many of us find it easy to turn our heads and avoid engaging with what we may know in our heart to be "true." As 2015 drew to a close, I was sitting on the cusp of making a decision about whether to sign up for an Ironman - 140.6 miles. I have received countless encouragements from people I know and people I do not, yet, I still have not been able to get myself to the registration place to click "submit." I have to wonder where the hesitation is coming from. It isn't just that the distance terrifies me, which I think is healthy - don't underestimate the challenge. It also isn't that I don't think I could do it. I am fairly sure with solid and consistent training I could cross that finish line. So, I have been left, for months now with this lingering, but shapeless, paralysis that prevents me from jumping in.
This brings me to think about hesitation in general and what perhaps our bodies are trying to communicate to us. Hesitation most often arises in the moment of indecision as it has for me. A pull on our coat tails, keeping us tethered to one direction, unable to fully release wholeheartedly to whatever awaits us.
It seems then, that hesitation can hold us back, unnecessarily, from venturing into new territory, or new experiences. Our inner monologue telling us that difference and change doesn't feel safe. The status quo is comfortable and controllable. Hesitation precedes perceived discomfort. Yet, discomfort is the doorway to learning and growth. When we feel uncomfortable we can assess the roots of the discomfort and arrive at new learning about ourselves, our behavior, our bias.
Hesitation can also be a legitimate safety alarm, pulling us back from something that ultimately may not end well. It's the gut feeling that we are taught to follow. "Listen to your gut" we are told because it's usually right. My gut has sent those warning signs before, and I have yielded to the hesitation. Doing so, in hindsight, turned out to be the best option.
Hesitation, a representation of confusion and a crossroads. Why do we hesitate on the big decisions in our lives? This isn't rocket science of course, we take a pause, because they are big decisions that will have an enormous impact. We also may not trust ourselves to make the right decision. It's therefore sometimes not about safety or discomfort. Rather, it is about a lack of belief in ourselves.
I have read numerous Facebook memes and posts about the fact that we just entered the Year of the Monkey, and that 2016 will be marked by leaps of faith and risk taking. In fact, taking a risk in 2016, will reap rewards so the fortunes say. Should I then untether myself from the hesitation and sign up for that Ironman? It is easy to be swayed by what other people think you should do, but ultimately, and this is not news, we should do what we want to do. And the little tug of hesitation can help us see what that is, if we give time and attention to its root.
Where I arrive at with my Ironman decision is really right in front of me. The question I have to answer is whether I want to do the Ironman not whether I can. I don't want to reluctantly sign up because it's the next big challenge, because it might inspire others, or "just because." Someone I don't know well recently asked me "Why not?" He tossed his words at me, as though he was throwing down the gauntlet. He leaned back in his seat nodding in satisfaction believing that there was no answer to his challenge other than agreement. I didn't have an answer for him. I think, though that it's the wrong question, and my hesitation has made that clear for me. Really, the question I should have a concrete and substantive answer to is not "why not?" but rather "Why should I?" Hesitation has taught me I need to be all in, make a positive investment. My lack of an answer to "why not?" and my seemingly perpetual hesitation are not reasons to take on this challenge.