11/09/2012 12:34 pm ET Updated Jan 09, 2013

Election Hangover

The Discomfort of Inaction.

I was strung tightly Tuesday night listening to election results come in -- knowing that while I'd voted, and had been relatively vocal supporting others to get out and do the same -- I knew I had not done all I knew to do to honor what I care deeply about.

In the final moments before polls closed -- my awakeness to the stakes finally drove me to increase my participation and volunteer -- something I'd been telling myself to do for many weeks.

This was literally in the F-I-N-A-L moments.

The absurdity was laughable, uncomfortable and poignant.

While an election can be like a hot horserace to begin with, that I'd gone so long not doing something I'd been telling myself to do was what tightened the strings for me.

If it didn't go the way I hoped, I was sitting there knowing I didn't do what I wished I had.

It's so easy for all of us to fall into an, "I'll get to it" paradigm, until the moment is upon us... even when we know better.

The learning:
  1. If we say "it" to ourselves twice, in all likelihood, we care about it. Whatever "it" is... lending a hand to someone struggling, checking in with a friend going through a tough time, pursuing the help we need to get over an obstacle, etc. If we're talking to ourselves about "it" in our minds more than once, we probably care.
  2. Give 60 seconds to consider how we will feel if we never do the thing, if the gamble doesn't go in our favor (e.g. if I choose not to check in on my relative and she happens to take a turn for the worse, or if I don't find out how I can help that acquaintance who is still suffering from Sandy's aftermath) -- then consider this in the framework of the realities of our time and calendar.
  3. If it is, in fact, of importance in our hearts, and we can find the way to accommodate it in the landscape of our calendar, in spite of all the other things grabbing at our attention, schedule it. Even if you haven't done it until now.
  4. Helpful, but not mandatory: find someone to chat with who cares like you do. This breeds power and action.
  5. Period.

Meredith Haberfeld is an Executive Coach and co-founder of the Institute for Coaching, a wife and mother of two young children.