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Scheme of Things

The State of Limbo
By Nan S. Russell
Apr 15, 2014 - 10:02:28 AM

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When we built our house it was intended as an investment property. But our crystal ball didn't foresee unexpected family bumps, and we needed to move in ourselves. "It's temporary," we assured each other. But, by the time we'd caught our breath and decided to list it, the housing market was crumbling.

Fast forward a decade and you'll find us still in a house we never planned to live in. Our decision to move and simplify our lives was made long ago, but executing that decision has yet to happen. Our temporary has turned semi-permanent.

But for me, it's a long time to be stuck in limbo. What we want to make happen and what we can make happen aren't aligning. While we're not alone with an "underwater" property yoke holding us down, that thought doesn't help me get emotionally unstuck. I've been waiting for the next chapter called "moving" to do that; waiting for a new beginning before adding goals, refocusing priorities, and reassessing commitments.

I'm not alone. Many people put themselves in limbo, responding to life's challenges like a DVD-pause button, putting dreams or aspirations on hold until the time is just right to push "play" again. We wait to lose weight before we put ourselves "out there;" wait to get the "right" job before we commit to work; wait for childcare or eldercare issues to be resolved before we create time for ourselves; wait for the wedding, the retirement, the Mr. or Ms. right to show up so our "real" life can begin.

We go through life's motions as unengaged, shallow-selves, as we wait for what we want to happen before coming alive. We act as if this current life isn't our life at all. But life happens with or without our participation in it. By holding back our engagement with it, we lose the joy, love, and opportunities it holds, simply because they're not the ones we seek.

Maya Angelou wrote, "All we control is our choices." For too long I tried to control the wrong ones. I tried to control selling a house so I could "get on" with my life. However, that wasn't something I had control over. I should have chosen to control what I could control – my mental-state. I should have invested in today's joys more thoughtfully, instead of waiting for new ones tomorrow; I should have stayed connected with what's in front of me instead of waiting to turn a corner.

In the scheme of things, I've learned that the biggest challenge with visiting a limbo-state wasn't finding my way back; it was realizing I was even there. Blinded by wayward thoughts and blocked awareness, I noticed others "on hold" with their lives, but I couldn't see it in myself. Finally, I began moving out of limbo once I realized my real life is the one that's already here. We can choose to live waiting, or we can choose to live engaged. I'm going with engaged.

(c) 2014 Nan S. Russell. All Rights Reserved.

Nan Russell is an award winning author. Her fourth book, Trust, Inc.: How to Create a Business Culture that Will Ignite Passion, Engagement, and Innovation was published  in November 2013. More about Nan and her work can be found at  Sign up to receive Nan's free monthly eColumn at:

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