Bits of Life Missed Worth Exploring

The Natural Law of “Lag” In Our Lives


To lag describes the fact that there is a delay between an action and a result. You most often hear the terms “leading” or “lagging” indicators when describing/predicting the behavior of financial markets.

A great example of “lag” would be when you just had a medical procedure where the doctor immediately tells you that it was a success. Yet honestly, you don’t feel that way the next day. Because your body needs time to heal and for you to gain strength. You won’t feel healthy again until many weeks later. Your return to health “lagged” the declaration that your medical procedure was successful.

A contrasting set of statements to this example might include: I fixed my bed today. I cut the grass, Cooked dinner. Washed our windows. Raked the leaves. In these very specific one step processes, there is very little lag between starting the chore and finishing it.

Reflect on the language we use daily in many situations. I joined a gym to lose weight. We instituted a marketing plan for our product. We introduce a new food policy for the organization. Our fundraising plan has been published.

Mistakenly we believe, far too often, that stating intention automatically equals achieving the outcome. As if by stating the intention, the outcome magically appears. But life doesn’t work that way. I use the phrase of “the natural law of “lag” in our lives” for exactly this reason. For most everything we say we are going to do, there is a natural built in delay between start and finish. For everything we hope to accomplish, there is this same delay between hope and outcome.

None of us can get away from this natural phenomenon. Realizing that there is this natural lag helps us temper our initial excitement while continuing to put in the work to get to the outcome we desire. The plan, the goal, the intent is only a starting point to many more things that need to happen to get to the result you envisioned.

This is why weight loss, organizational change, company strategy, acquiring new skills or training, settling into a job, mastering a hobby or musical instrument, implementing a new marketing or fundraising program, and so on……are so difficult to implement and achieve. They all follow the natural law of “lag”.

It is this lag that is most difficult for us to navigate. For we tire and lose interest quickly. Our focus gets distracted too often for us to get things done. We become frustrated where nothing immediate happens and so we quit.

The stories we tell ourselves and others about our intentions or goals are crafted only to romanticize the big steps. Little steps each day, with little evidence of progress, do not give us or our egos enough content to create stories that others would marvel. Sadly, keeping our own selves in the dark. Discouraged & impatient, testing our will to persevere when things don’t readily seem to be coming together.

Making it imperative for us to make time and patience be our friend instead of our fleeting enemy. While understanding that the lag in our lives has nothing to do with our ability but with our lack of self awareness of how life really works.

The natural law of “lag” brings so much meaning and focus to the journey of our lives rather than its outcomes. For its during the lag, that the thorns and obstacles in our life test us. Making us stronger and wiser each time, regardless of the outcome.

Bits of Life Missed Worth Exploring


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