Timing is everything. Where we are and when can dictate whether a project succeeds or fails, a relationship starts or doesn’t, or whether we respond well in a heated moment (or not so well).
There are definitely better times to start or quit. Better times to posit your suggestion or stay quiet. Times when you’ll be lauded and times when you’ll be shunned. So how do you judge?
One of my favorite sayings is “the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the second best time is today.” This is a great reminder to get started on an idea, one that you’ve had for a little while. One where you’ve been using timing as an excuse (whether you don’t know the perfect time or think you missed the perfect time). Chances are if an idea is sticky enough to keep resurfacing in your mind, this is a clue you should take action.
Then of course there’s reading the room. These are the times when you really want something to work. You think something is a great idea. You may have even mentioned the idea in passing to test it’s reception. In these cases people may agree with you, but not share your excitement or verify your thinking. Or maybe people can’t understand or explain what it is you want to do. Worse yet, maybe you can’t explain it. Reading the room also includes factors outside of your direct control – the company’s not doing well, the economy is uncertain, or something generally is telling you “not yet.”
The trick is there’s no such thing as perfect timing – perfect timing is mostly hindsight bias after all. There is only knowing yourself and understanding the environment you’re operating in. There’s telling a story people buy into (or not).
So if you want to time something right, get to know yourself better. Observe the people and the world around you. Get really clear about the story you tell.
Don’t worry about perfect timing. Worry instead about using the time you have to focus on the right things. Anything else is just wasting time.