Karen, one of my coworkers was stressed about where she was living. She hated the apartment she was in and complained every day about it. One day over coffee, I asked her why she didn’t look for another apartment – it seemed like an easy solution to me. Karen’s reply to this was, “I will look for another apartment when I come back from vacation.”
Sam hated his job. He dreaded getting up in the morning. He hated the work he was doing and it started to take a toll on him. He had a love for photography and was currently taking a two-year course to obtain his certificate. Every night he complained about his work. After listening to his complaints for a month, I asked him why he didn’t finish his course and start a small business doing photography on the weekends. His reply, “if only I had more time to finish my course. When I finish my course I will start a business.”
Sarah had saved all her life and now was retired and living comfortably. The house she bought had a dishwasher in it; however, the dishwasher was old and didn’t work. She hated doing dishes, and every time we visited with her she complained about doing the dishes. One night, I asked her, “Why don’t you buy a new dishwasher Sarah.” Her reply, “I have been thinking about it, if they would only come on sale I would.”
Larry worked for a company that allowed early retirement. Larry had both the years of service and his age, which allowed him to retire, but at a reduced pension. He was having difficulty coping with all the changes that were being made in his work. He had a couple of mild attacks, not a heart attack but similar to one. He called me and we talked for hours. I was worried about the stress of his job and the effects it was having on his health. “Why don’t you retire Harry? Do something that you have always wanted to do,” I asked. Harry’s reply to my question was, “If only I was older then I would get my full pension.” I got bolder in my conversation with him, “But Harry, you have your house paid off, you have no bills, the kids are grown up. You could sell your house and downsize, it really is not worth your health is it? Harry then said, “When the summer comes maybe I will.”
All of these stories have the same theme running through them. There is a proverb that says it all:
“If and when were planted, and nothing grew.”
Now a year later,
Karen is still living in the apartment she hates!
Sam is still complaining about his job and still has not finished his course!
Sarah is still washing dishes!
Larry is still working and his health is not what it used to be!
The sad part of all of these stories is that all of these people had a lot of stress in their lives that they could have taken action to reduce. But, all of them defeated themselves by thinking “if” or “when”. Life is too short for “if’s and when’s”.
The next time you are in a stressful situation and you find yourself saying or thinking – “if or when” – remember the saying, “If and when were planted and nothing grew!” Change your thinking and take action, so that you can reduce your stress right now.
by Catherine Pulsifer