Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today


A Sense of Urgency

Very Little Good Can Happen At a Snail's Pace

I watched a rather large land snail make its way across a country road. I had never seen one up close and personal that way before. All three inches or so of this slimy semi-translucent pinkish thing navigating the bumps, gravel, stones and ruts in order to reach whatever a land snail considers the destination. While this road is typically very quiet, there was a danger that the occasional car or truck might appear to ruin this poor creature's day. Meanwhile, bit by bit, the gastropod meandered its way forward, all the while, I am wondering why this thing isn't hauling ass out of the way of the inevitable appearance of rolling death. Frustrated by the lack of any sense of urgency-I walked away, leaving it to its fate.

I know too many people who resemble the land snail; no I am not referring to the slime, but to their apparent lack of care of the many dangers that surround their lives. They are seemingly indifferent to the risks to which they open themselves and their families. Whether it's their physical or emotional health, their portfolio's, their legacy, or their future well-being-they live their lives oblivious to the perils. In some cases, it is unawareness, in others, avoidance. We are good at avoiding today's pain, in fact, we tend to go to extreme measures to make sure that current pain is traded off for the possibility that in the future, it will magically disappear. It's like borrowing off one credit card to pay the other-some day, the funds will appear to pay it off-or better yet, it will magically pay itself off (there's always the Powerball, right?).

But good planning doesn't have to be painful. It is meant to be just the opposite-joyful! Imagine a life where the bits and pieces of annoyances (like dealing with estate planning, taxes, risk management or portfolio construction) will all fall into place because there's a mechanism in place to handle it, thereby giving you the freedom to live, work and play without worry. But the snail, not only carries its home with it, making it just a tad slower than the other RV's on the NY State Thruway, it carries its burdens, making it a slow and clumsy creature-not unlike those who live in avoidance.

Too many people are "road-kill" in waiting simply because they plod along without proper direction. The transition between a snail-like existence and living a more organized and congruent life begins with some simple steps:

Assess your current level of satisfaction in the following areas from 1-10 (10 highest):

1. Your Health

2. Your Savings

3. Your Debt

4. Your Work

5. Your Family

6. Your Community

7. Your Learning

8. Your Inner Growth (Spirituality)

In assessing these eight areas;

Do you score any ten's?

Do you score any one's?

What needs attention today?

What one thing can your improve my making simple steps?

If you are like most people, you might find you are sitting with a bunch of five's and some scattered scores from one to ten. The goal is to honestly assess these areas, and then pick the areas that are the greatest concern. For example, if your health is not at or near the top, find out what you can do to make it better (increase exercise, improve your diet, get a checkup).

Visualize improvement in each area and consider what steps will raise your satisfaction, little by little, step by step. In other words, don't expect to leap from a one to a ten, but be thrilled to move from a four to a five-each step of progress empowers the next success.

Find the right resources to support your success. Who are those who can best help and support you? Is it a physician, nutritionist, financial planner, Estate attorney, strength-trainer, CPA, psychologist, spiritual leader, college professor, career counselor, family member, coach or yoga instructor? There are a multitude of professionals out there to help you move from your present state to an improved position; you need the motivation and desire to take action.

No one wants to be the snail on the wrong side of four Michelin's doing sixty. In your case, your sense of urgency can make a difference.

More from Michael F. Kay
More from Psychology Today