One of* my favorite scenes from “The Office” involves Kevin and Pam discussing what the term “soon” means.
(Disclaimer: I have about 150 “favorite scenes” from The Office. It’s my all-time favorite show and I’ve watched the entire series more times than I’m willing to publicly admit.)
Pam has ordered a new copier for the office, but hasn’t set it up yet. Kevin comes to her desk and asks when the copier will be ready. Pam’s reply?
“Soon, Kevin. It will be ready soon.”
Kevin’s response is incredibly interesting to me. Kevin (how do I put this nicely?) doesn’t have the reputation of being the “most insightful” character on the show, but I think he brings up a good point here.
Kevin replies, “Soon could mean anything. Soon could mean three weeks.”
Yes, Kevin. Yes it could. Or three months. Or three years.
Soon is the most non-committal word in the English language.
There’s a Fuzzy’s Taco Shop being built close to my house. We have a Fuzzy’s in downtown Waco that has opened since we’ve moved here. My wife and I eat there about once a week, so I’m looking forward to all the money I’ll save on gas once the closer store opens up.
(I’ll probably just spend that money on queso, but still, a penny saved is a penny earned, right?)
However, I get frustrated every time I drive by the store. I’m still waiting to see the sign that says, “Opening on (This Date).” I can’t wait to circle the date on my calendar and maybe – if I can talk Mary into it – show up early to be one of the first 100 in line. I’m sure that will guarantee me free Fuzzy’s for a year and ultimate taco happiness.
Instead, they have had the same sign up for weeks – “Coming Soon.”
Now I get it, when you’re in the restaurant-building business, it’s hard to commit to a specific date. Too many things can happen. Rain can delay construction. A late shipment of equipment or supplies might prevent you from being able to train your new employees on time. I get it.
But how often do we take the same approach without similar excuses? How often do we have goals, dreams, and aspirations that we plan we’re going to get to “soon?”
Anybody can do anything soon.
I’ve never sang in front of an audience, but I could tell you that I’m going to release my debut album soon. Or maybe I’ll start a band, put out a couple albums, get my name out there, and then, after a power struggle with the guitarist, I’ll go solo. That’s how everyone else does it, right?
I could tell you I plan to start “soon,” and if it never happens, that’s okay. I haven’t lost anything. I just never got around to it.
If you make plans to do something soon, you probably have good intentions. You want to get it done. And one day, maybe, you will.
But the word “soon” is often a roadblock on the road to done. So let’s stop doing things soon.
If something is REALLY important to you, give yourself an artificial deadline. Say, “I’m finally going to do that, and I’m going to do it now.” Or, “I’m going to do it by the end of the week.” Or month. You get it. Give yourself an appropriate timeframe to complete your task. And use the natural pressure of that deadline to hold yourself accountable to finishing.
You don’t have to do this for everything, because not everything carries the same level of importance or urgency. Would I like to clean my garage one day? Sure, I’d love to see what’s been hiding in there for years. Do I have to do that by Sunday at midnight? No, absolutely not. And it would be foolish to limit myself to that goal and, in the process, neglect more important matters.
Some things aren’t priorities. But other things are. And maybe, just maybe, they’re too important to do “soon.”
Set yourself up for success. Give yourself a deadline. Hold yourself accountable. And celebrate the win.
PS: I heard through the grapevine that the new Fuzzy’s is supposed to open by the end of the year. Let’s celebrate 2019 with queso!