The Art of Perfect Timing
Testing Your Timekeeper
1. Enlist a friend to be your truth-tester
2. Think of something that isn't happening for you as rapidly as you'd like: finding a soul mate, getting pregnant, mastering macramé. We'll call this Event X.
3. Hold your arm out parallel to the floor. Have your friend press down on your hand while you try your hardest to keep the arm horizontal.
4 . Test how your ability to hold up your arm varies as you make true statements versus false ones. You'll be much stronger when the answer you're giving is true. (Be sure to have your friend press down as you make each statement, not after you've finished speaking.)
5. Retest your strength while saying, "Event X will occur within my lifetime." If your arm strength dissolves, you probably harbor a deep belief that X is impossible. If your arm remains strong, you believe X will happen. Now find out when.
6. Retest your strength as you say, "X will happen within 20 years." If your arm weakens, test again with later dates: "X will happen within 30 years" (or 40 or 50). If your arm is strong on the 20-year test, start working backward—"X will happen within ten years," "X will happen within five years," etc.
7. Eventually, your arm will go from strong to weak. If you're strong on "X will happen within four years" but weak on "X will happen within three years," your internal timekeeper expects X to happen in about four years.
I want to be clear: This test doesn't predict the future. It simply shows what you expect to happen. But expectations are incredibly powerful. The mind often creates what it believes—especially if the belief is unconscious. That's not to suggest that these buried plans are immutable. If this test reveals you're unwittingly delaying something you really want, hire a shrink, unstack your mental blocks, and change your subconscious schedule.
Following Your Internal Clock
Most "timing's perfect!" enthusiasts don't need these kinds of tests. They're constantly aware of their internal timekeepers, respecting information and intimations, preparing to avoid danger or pursue opportunity. By contrast, people who bewail their bad timing often ignore, even actively reject, facts and premonitions that could help them better plan their actions. True, everyone is subject to good and bad events. But the laws of probability mean that extreme strokes of fortune, positive or negative, occur rarely and end quickly. If you ask people (as I often do) how they make decisions, "lucky" people will talk about tuning in to information and instincts, while "unlucky" people often mention pushing away the uncomfortable feeling they were headed for trouble.
Jackie and Cleo are classic examples. They both knew that their industry was in trouble, and they both had strong hunches that they'd be laid off. Jackie reacted by clinging ever more tightly to her doomed job; Cleo started planning a different life. Each woman sensed the ship was sinking, but Jackie lashed herself to the mast and frantically swabbed the deck, while Cleo calmly launched a lifeboat.
So how do you tune in to your timekeeping impulses? Ironically, the only way to access your inner guide about the future is to fully occupy the present. By noticing everything you're feeling—physically, emotionally, and intuitively—in any given moment, you maximize your awareness of the "exquisitely refined" nonverbal timekeeper nudging your noggin. These are the strategies I've found most effective at keeping me in the right place at the right time:
1. Take a relaxed breath and exhale fully. Before inhaling again, rest in the pause between breaths. Focus on your heartbeat and the pulse in your hands, feet, and scalp. As you return to breathing normally, remain aware of your pulse throughout your body. This anchors you in the present and keeps you calm during the next steps.
2. Acknowledge that you can't change anything that's already happened. Sometimes that's a shame, but it's just plain true.
3. Accept that many things about the future are unknowable and beyond your control. Scary? Oh, yes—but again: true.
4. Recognize whatever's happening right now (you'd be amazed how often we try to deny what's going on). If the present is miserable, this step can hurt—but not nearly as much as living with the consequences of denial.