Thursday, September 13, 2012

Pull the Trigger

I remember the day I realized I’d gotten in the habit of hesitating to pull the trigger.


Not on my spouse, or on the slow driver in front of me.  On my projects. 

I’d get whatever I was working on to a place of 60%, 80% or even 90% done, and then I’d stop working on it. I’d just walk away with the intention of finishing this later. And I was sure this was a smart move. Sometimes later came. But sometimes it didn’t.

Plans were made. Supplies were bought. But then the project wasn’t begun.  Or begun but not finished.

If I did manage to complete “production” on my work, I’d hesitate to pull the trigger on “shipping” it.  The “product” sat on my warehouse shelves instead of being sent to its intended customer.  Cards sat addressed and stamped but not mailed out. Writing pieces sat almost done, but not sent to editors.  

I realized this one day as I was online creating custom labels for some CDs I was making.  I spent an hour searching for a good label company to use, looking at the possible designs, choosing one, uploading my graphic to put on it, tweaking the colors on it, and then I final-proofed it and put it in my online shopping cart.  Then I quit. I didn’t place the order. Instead I saved it for later.

Twenty minutes later, while I was on to the next thing, I wondered, “Why didn’t I just finish that task while I was doing it?  It would’ve been so easy to just get it done.  Now I have to remember to go back and finish that.”

So why didn’t I pull the trigger? 




Those are always safe answers about why I'm hesitating. But as I thought it through, I realized there was something more to this trap I was in.

There had been a couple of times I gotten something almost done but waited to finish it. Then I got new information I didn’t have before, and I was glad I hadn’t yet pulled that trigger.  I found a better price elsewhere, or I learned that it won’t work like I thought it would. I read a bad review of it, or I dreamed up a different, better way to go about it.

The huge feeling of relief that I hadn’t yet pulled the trigger got associated with the act of stopping before finishing. Hesitating had brought me good results or saved me from bad ones.  So I started hesitating more often – just in case.

I’d reach almost done and start to wonder: Maybe I should sleep on this decision – think about it for a couple days. Is this the best possible deal? Am I going to regret this later? Have I spent too much time on this already today … maybe I should go work on something else for a while.

I lost sight of the reality that these incidents where waiting worked well were exceptions to the done-is-better-than-not-done rule.  Plus, I forgot how great “done” feels and how bad a gaggle of unfinished tasks feels.

Not pulling the trigger did bring me relief a couple of times, but it brought me frustration much of the rest of the time.  I had to work twice as hard to remember to go back and close the loop, finish the project, ship the product.  And I had to live with the consequences when I forgot.

Bottom Line:  
Better to pull the trigger while the metaphorical get-it-done gun is in your hand and aimed. If you wait until later you’ll have to find the gun, polish it up, reload it with motivation and re-aim it on your target. You don’t want or need to do all those extra steps.

Realizing that helped me a lot.  Maybe it will help someone else out there too. Today, I want you to pray, then pull the trigger on your projects. Unless of course, God tells you not to as you pray. Or, if you are aiming at your spouse or that slow driver in front of you.
Do you have a tendency to stop short of done?  ... Pull that trigger!



  1. Oh my goodness, that's me all over the page!
    Waiting for more information or another perspective on the subject or a sharper mind or just another day. And when I do make those appointments or finish that online order I feel so much lighter; it's not in that cloud over my head of things not done.
    Thanks for putting it on paper for me. I actually have a couple projects waiting, so here goes.

    1. Yay - you go pull that trigger, and lighten your load. Soon it'll be blue skies over your head instead of the grey clouds of things not done. :)

  2. I can so relate to the waiting-for-something-better-just-in-case thought process. You are so right. It is more tiring than going ahead and finishing what I set out to do to begin with. I've decided I have to stop living with the "what-ifs" and move forward with the "well-dones."

    1. Me too, Pam. "Well-done rather than what-if."

      Well said. :)

  3. At least you get to the "trigger" point. So many of the things I want to do I won't even start because the fear of not finishing and the feeling of failure it brings keeps me from moving forward. Satan really uses this fear in my life and it makes me angry, sometimes angry enough to jump out and start something. This is a matter of prayer for me almost daily. Obviously you have learned to pull the trigger on some things. You have a couple of wonderful books out there!

    1. Thanks. I've paused and prayed today for you to embrace the it-doesn't-have-to-be-perfect-it-just-has-to-be-done philosophy. :)

  4. Rachel:
    Thank you! These words spoke to me.....healing balm to my weary soul. God used you mightily. Now off to pull the trigger...after Worship Service.

    1. Hi Maria. Thanks for stopping by. I'm praying that you "shoot down" several things on your to-do list this week!

  5. Since I publish a Christian newspaper and write two blogs I subscribe to more than a few e-mail newsletters and devotions (including Rachel's and Proverbs 31 Ministries!) and much of my business is done via e-mail. Managing e-mails and keeping the in-box manageable has always been a challenge.

    This summer was a very stressful personal time for me and involved a move. Throughout this time I read my e-mails every day but didn't delete, move them to another folder, or reply as I should have. This weekend, with the paper-put-together deadline of the week, and feeling somewhat settled, I sat down to tackle the emails. More than 1300 of them. It was a daunting task. Even though many were immediately deleted, there were more than a few that were important, so I had to pay attention to what I was doing. It took more than 4 hours Saturday afternoon to get through most of them.

    As of this week I'm re-implementing my every Friday to-do of "Clear e-mails," the goal of which is to appropriately deal with the emails and by the end of the day have less than 30 in my in-box (I leave personal replies or things I want to check into more--like sales at or Christopher and Banks, for when I have more time).

    As for "pulling the trigger" on other projects...many times I'm prompted to say a quick prayer before sending the article or otherwise finishing the project. Not often, but once in awhile I hear God's "WAIT." When I listen, there's a reason not to "pull the trigger." Most of the time however, it's clear it's time to get it done!

    THANKS for the encouragement!


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