In a holding pattern?

Whilst waiting for our flight to take off recently, I started thinking about holding patterns: that moment in your flight when the pilot announces that the plane needs to stay airborne until cleared for landing. How would you react? Would you be frustrated that you were going to be delayed? Would you be anxious that maybe something was wrong? Would you relish the chance to read another chapter of your book?

What’s behind the need to stay airborne? Bad weather? Is the control tower busy with other aircraft? Is there a backlog of planes on the runway? Whatever it is, one thing’s for certain: now is not the time to land. We need to sit tight and wait for the right time.

When we’re working towards a change in our personal or professional development, sometimes we can feel like we’re in a holding pattern. We want to land, pick up our luggage, go through security and move on to our destination but we’re just stuck in a situation over which we have no control. Maybe your path to promotion is on hold because of a departmental restructure. Perhaps the designer working on the branding for your new start-up is taking longer than previously thought.

What next? Will you fidget and get impatient? Will you be stressed out that maybe you’ve chosen the wrong goal and that must be why it’s not working? Will you relax and enjoy the journey?

There’s a coaching question which goes like this –

Since I am going to do this anyway, do I choose to have it be neutral, hard, or fun?

This question could easily be applied to a ‘holding pattern’ situation. You can choose how you react to this delay in your goal. Be annoyed – be worried – be calm: the choice is yours.

May I suggest another option? Be curious. What’s happening around you whilst you’re in this holding pattern? What do you notice? What can you learn? Is this an opportunity to fine tune or rework? Who else seems to be in a holding pattern too?

I’ve asked you a lot of questions and here’s one more.

Today’s pebble to ponder:

If you feel like you’re in a holding pattern at the moment, what are you noticing?

I’d love to hear your thoughts,


Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching. 

If you’d like to make progress in your work and life, why not email me to see how we could work together?

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