There is No Right Time

It’s winter, and my car is dirty. My car is dirty most of the winter, because it is Minnesota and there is snow and slush and ice and sand and salt everywhere. That wasn’t the case a week ago, when I washed my car. My grey sedan was beautiful, clean and gleaming. . . . for about a day, until the snow came back, and the slush, and the ice, and the sand, and the salt. And now, my car is dirty again. Why? Because there is never a right time to wash your car in Minnesota in the winter.

My point is this; some things simply do not have a “right time.” In fact, most major decisions in our lives do not have a specific right time for them to happen. Even if many of the conditions that influence a decision to do something line up perfectly, there are always a million reasons not to do something, to continue with the comfortable status quo. Think about the decision to start a family and have a child. No matter what your family, personal, or financial situation is, adding a member to your family brings massive responsibility and change, and there is no moment when it is “right;” there is only the moment when you decide you are ready and make the decision.

Major decisions in business follow the same pattern. I’m often asked by clients about the right time to make big moves in their business, and my general answer is that there is no right time. Any decision to take a business in a different direction means major change, and there is no perfect time to change. There are certainly times that may be better, as certain positive conditions— in the business, the market, the economy, your customers, and your competition— may help ease the burden of change, but ultimately the right time to make changes in your business, career, or life is. . . . when it is the right time. The time to change is when you are ready to change. The decision to hire that next key employee, make a shift in strategy, add services or divisions, plant a new location, or begin that search for the next job brings with it big change (or lots of small changes that add up to big change). That change takes work and requires commitment, and no one can tell you when you are ready to make that commitment. There is simply a point of decision when that voice inside your head says “I am ready. I’ve been doing things a certain way and I don’t want to do them that way anymore. There is a better version out there; I want to find it and put the work in to achieve it.”

This is not to say that decisions should be made on a whim, without careful consideration and analysis. Those outside factors listed above should be taken into account even if they rarely produce a 100% definitive “right time.” What I'm saying is that those big decisions, those movements toward change, are aided by the information available but ultimately come down to one’s gut and a willingness to take a chance— they happen because, as Simon Sinek puts it in Start with Why, “It just feels right.”

When people ask me about types of businesses with whom I work, they are always asking in the context of size, revenue, life-cycle of the business, or number of employees. I respond that my clients fit a psychographic profile, not a demographic one. My clients are business owners who want to get better, know that better means change, understand that change takes work, and are willing and committed to doing that work. Their decision did not come because it was the right time, but rather because they said: “I am ready and it’s time to get to work.”

If you are looking to make a change, stop looking for the right time and simply act when you decide that the time is right. That is a decision and an action that you control. Once you have made the decision, get going, get started, get to work. . . . and get better.

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