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It’s never going to be perfect. So why do we always talk about waiting for the right time? The right time to have a baby. The right time to start a diet. The right time to quit drinking. The right time to leave that wrong situation.

The reality is that the right time is the one where you find yourself in the perfect storm of honest self-reflection and motivation. The mind is a minefield that, until exceptionally well-trained, likes to play tricks on us. It will deceive, deny and misdirect us into all kinds of excuses and rationalizations.

There are, however, clues that we can cue into when this is happening: A feeling in the pit of your stomach, sweaty palms, guilt or shame, or maybe it’s that little voice in quiet moments, softly whispering the truth to you.

Likewise, motivation comes in many forms. Sometimes it’s a goal we want to achieve, like saving money for a new purchase. Or maybe it’s a desire to be or not to be, like an example we’ve seen set by another. But frequently motivation is served through the dish of personal pain and suffering.

There’s a saying: “Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.” – Tony Robbins

Put another way: No grit, no pearl.

I’ve periodically dealt with feelings of guilt for walking away from things that no longer served me. But those feelings never last long, as I’m reminded that I only have a finite amount of energy and time, and part of living my best life means devoting myself to those endeavors that serve the greatest good.

When we contemplate the greatest good, it’s easy to focus on those things that seem to directly impact others. But Buddha said that if your compassion doesn’t include yourself it is incomplete.

Reason being that you can’t give from an empty cup. But also, like the poem Desiderata by Max Ehrmann says (in part):

You are a child of the universe,

no less than the trees and the stars;

you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you,

no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. 

So join me if you will in an exercise in reflection: Go somewhere quiet. Dim the lights. Light a candle. Close your eyes. Relax your belly. Take some deep cleansing breaths. Go slow and gently enough to find a feeling of calm and center. And then from this place begin lovingly and without judgment to contemplate where in your life you need to start or quit that which no longer serves you.

Once it has come into focus, take to your journal and write it down. Make your plan for moving forward in a way that’s loving and constructive. If you feel a negative emotional charge, don’t act until after it subsides. That way you’re more likely not to have to apologize later.

As always, I welcome your thoughts or comments through my criminal defense firm’s site at www.shanastein.com/contact