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What are You Waiting For? Act Now!

Originally published: 02.01.21 by Pete Grasso

The NBC sitcom “Seinfeld” spurred many catchphrases during its nine-year run. There’s “No soup for you!” and “Not that there’s anything wrong with that” and, of course, “Yada, yada, yada.”

Perhaps my favorite, however, is the one first uttered (or, screamed, rather) by George’s father Frank Costanza (and then by Kramer and then by George himself): SERENITY NOW!

You see, in the episode, Frank via an instructional tape is advised to say “serenity now” every time he gets angry in an effort to keep his blood pressure down. Of course, he angrily screams the phrase and when George asks if he’s supposed to yell it, Frank calmy replies, “The man on the tape wasn’t specific.”

It becomes a running gag throughout the episode as Frank continues to scream the phrase every time he gets upset. Kramer also picks up on it and tries using the phrase as he tries to calm his emotions.

Toward the end of the episode a frustrated George, in a fit of rage, screams “SERENITY NOW” only to be informed by his rival Lloyd Braun that the “serenity now” mantra is actually harmful, as it bottles up emotions.

“Serenity now; insanity later,” Lloyd quips.

As with most things from “Seinfeld,” this is humorous, yet also is instructional. While saying (or screaming) “serenity now” may make you feel better in the short term, Lloyd is right in his assessment. You’re only putting off the inevitable.

The lesson, to me anyway, is to avoid procrastination — easier said than done. How many times have you avoided doing something you know needs to be done, thinking you can always do it later?

We often have this reaction when the task is difficult or unpleasant. Putting it off doesn’t make it any less pleasant, it just pushes it off to another time and only placates you in the current moment. Serenity now, insanity later.

The only thing stopping you from doing what needs to be done is you. Let’s use your retirement as an example. Sure, you may not be ready today, or this year or even within the next five years, but one day you will want to retire.

Planning for retirement involves a lot of work ... you’ll have to ensure you’re financially able to retire and put a plan in place for that, not to mention all that goes into ensuring your business and your employees succeed after you’re gone.

It’s a daunting task to be sure, and the thought of life after your business seems so far off ... why not worry about it another day? Serenity now; insanity later.

You’ve worked hard for many years to build a successful business. It’s been your life and, although you may enjoy hobbies outside of your business, pursuing those hobbies in lieu of working may seem far-fetched.

But it’s not! All it takes is a little planning and hard work — you’re not afraid of a little hard work, are you?

I recently finished reading “Benjamin Franklin: An American Life” by Walter Isaacson. It was a lengthy, fascinating read about one of our country’s most accomplished founding fathers.

We’ve all heard many of the stories surrounding Franklin, but there was so much about him that I’m sure not many people know.

I learned a lot reading the biography, and one thing that really struck me as interesting happened in 1748. Mind you, the Second Continental Congress in which the Declaration of Independence was drafted is still 27 years away.

Already an established printer — and a successful one at that — Franklin had a keen interest in science (experiments with electricity, in particular). So, at the age of only 42, Franklin decided he would like to spend more of his time conducting his experiments and retired from his printing business.

He put a plan in place that handed over the majority share to his business partner and retired — at 42 — so he could, essentially, tinker with science. Because he enjoyed it.

He walked away from his business — after careful planning, of course — to pursue his passion. Though he didn’t know it at the time, Franklin lived another 42 years and accomplished much more than he could have imagined. I can only imagine how different his life’s story would be if he had put off retiring from his business when he did.

Retirement is just one example. There are many things in life that we put off until another time when we could (and should) do them now. We only put off the insanity until later for some serenity now.

As Franklin famously said, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”


About Pete Grasso

Pete is the former editor of HVACR Business magazine. He has spent his career working in and with trade media, both as a public relations practitioner and as an editor. He gained a great deal of expertise in the B2B arena, within large and medium sized advertising agencies. Be sure to follow Pete on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn!


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