I recently came across some survey data from Timex, the watch company, about wait times. According to their research, Americans spend an average of 15 minutes waiting for a table at a restaurant. We spend 32 minutes getting ready for work, and another 21 waiting for our significant other to get ready to go out. We spend another 32 minutes waiting every time we visit the doctor’s office.
Odds are you spent around 13 hours last year on hold, waiting for customer service.
The average commuter spends 38 hours a year in traffic. Add another 12 hours if you live in a major city. Traveling by bus? Expect to spend an average of 20 minutes waiting for it to show up. If you’re taking a plane, you can plan on it taking an average of 28 minutes just to get through security.
All told, we spend about 5 years of our lives waiting. We gripe and moan about it, but there’s usually nothing we can do. Like it or not, you’ll still spend about 6 months of your life waiting for traffic lights to turn green.
But there’s a lot of waiting that we can avoid. We just choose not to. There are plenty of times when we’re perfectly happy to spend our time waiting:
Waiting for circumstances to improve.
Waiting for the budget to appear.
Waiting on the market to turn around.
Waiting until I feel better, or feel like it.
Waiting for someone else to tackle the hard part.
Waiting for the perfect customer to walk through the door.
And while we wait, the world moves on. Opportunities pass us by. Competition advances. Customers decide to go elsewhere. Employees check out. Someone else decides to stop waiting and snaps up the sale, the innovation, the victory that should have been ours.
What are you waiting for?
I’ve often heard track and field athletes say that the race is usually won at the start. Those who hear the gun go off and get out of the blocks quickly and cleanly create so much momentum that they can’t be caught. The surest way to lose … is to wait too long before getting started.
January is half-gone. Did you hear the gun? Are you ready to get started yet?
Haven’t you waited long enough?