I’ve been grappling with urgency lately. Self-imposed urgency, to be more exact. Sometimes urgency shows up as someone else’s agenda, but I’m talking about the urgency of our own making that bubbles up from within us. The goals, deadlines, and timeframes WE create. I watch it show up, sometimes with curiosity and sometimes in its grips.
It can be a common affliction of motivated and driven individuals.
We’ve got a plan, we’ve prioritized what’s important to focus on now, and we are AT IT. We are nose-to-the-grindstone WORKING on it.
And then, urgency strikes. It can be like being handed an unexpected baton as the crowd yells at you, “RUN!” But, it also can arrive as a subtle creeping anxious feeling.
The curious side of me wants to understand what is going on here, so let’s break it down.
When does urgency arise?
Maybe it comes as a reaction to incoming information where we suddenly wonder if something else is the most important thing to focus on.
Maybe it arises when we lift our heads from the task we are working on and take a peek at the big picture. Seeing everything that needs to be done to pull it all together can cause us to feel anxious.
Regardless of why the feeling arises, it comes with the same message.
There isn’t enough time. We have to act now. And we have to act quickly. Before it is too late.
And when we respond to it, we get a few results we may not be looking for.
Acting on urgency distracts us from our focus, the thing we already thoughtfully determined to be the most important thing. It leaves unfinished tasks in its wake. It scatters us in different directions and makes it harder to get back to and finish our highest priority tasks.
Acting on urgency pulls us into a scarcity mindset. And a scarcity mindset is a creativity killer. It feels constrictive and desperate. There is a little bit of panic in there. Inspiration cannot flow through us in that state.
Acting on urgency undermines our confidence. “No, no, no, what you are doing is NOT the most important thing. THIS is the most important thing.” When we buy that message, we introduce an element of distrust in our own ability to recognize the important thing.
So how do we combat the negative effects of urgency?
The first thing to do seems to be the opposite of what urgency demands. Urgency wants us to run, not walk. Urgency wants us to act, don’t even think about it, just GO. But the best course of action is the one that will bolster your confidence, allow you to continue to develop trust in yourself, and keep you open to inspiration and creativity.
Stop. Slow down. Think before acting.
Breathe. Pick a mantra to repeat to yourself when you feel urgency pulling at you.
Time is abundant.
I will recognize when the moment is right to act.
There are unlimited opportunities and they will arrive at the right time.
Urgency is a man-made illusion. We are constantly telling ourselves we need to hurry, constantly being told to hurry, and constantly telling other people to hurry. But what are we hurrying up for? The Truth is that we are hurrying through the only moment we are guaranteed.
I don’t want to hurry through life in panic mode though. I want to be present. But before I tackle the urgency others create or the urgency I create for others, I will first have to learn to quiet the urgency that comes from within.
There is a sweet spot where we are living in the present AND focusing on the right thing for this moment that will create a beautiful future. And in that sweet spot, there is no urgency.