“Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way…”

Categories: Winnthinks

Hard to believe that Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ has just turned 40 years old. It’s one of those albums that seems always to have been there for me – first heard on LP through my brother’s bedroom wall (oh those gorgeous gatefold album covers, my kids don’t know what they’re missing), then sneaked onto my own record player when he was out. Later owned on tape, on CD, and now captured digitally in iTunes. It is, IMHO, album perfection, and sounds as good today as it did when it first captivated me as a ten year old.


Out of a whole album full of evocative lyrics, it’s the line quoted above (from the song ‘Time’ – the one with noisy clocks at the opening) that always makes me catch my breath a little. Very many of you reading this, whether English or not, are likely to recognise this state of being. The stiff upper lip. The keeping it under control. Tomorrow is another day. Those bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover. We humans do hanging on very well, often too stubborn to see that we need help and too proud to ask for it. And often not realising how much we could do about it for ourselves.


Life is divided into two halves: the Controllables (the things you can decide to change) and the Uncontrollables (the things you have no influence over). Sometimes it can seem like there are only Uncontrollables – but look closer. Even when circumstances seem to be pinning you down there’s usually a little wriggle room, a tantalising glimpse of Another Way (if only you were brave enough). And if you genuinely can’t take full control, you should still be able to influence things for the better.


Choosing how you will respond to the factual circumstances of your life, rather than being a slave to lazy default thinking about them, is precisely how you increase the number of Controllables at your disposal. Getting yourself a Game Plan is a powerful way to do this very thing, so here’s what you do:


Set aside some quality quiet time, away from distractions, and write down your answers to the following questions. You can relate them to your business, your career or your wider life:

  • Where do I want to be in 3 / 5 / 10 years time?
  • What do I need to do / learn / gain / remove in order to get there?
  • When will I commit to doing / learning / gaining / removing those things by?
  • What can I take from my current situation to help with achieving my goals?
  • Who can help me?

Now commit your goal or goals to a clear time line, with dates on, which should be realistic but sufficiently pressing to get you taking the first action quickly.


Finally, sign your name on your Game Plan to confirm your commitment to your goals, and keep it somewhere visible. Then get to work.


Without wishing to milk the Pink Floyd theme, here are two more lines from the same song: “And then one day you find ten years have got behind you; no one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.” There really is no point in hanging on, quietly desperate and full of things you intend to do one day. Now is when it begins.



  1. Another great article Rebecca. You get me winnthinking every time.

  2. More wise words and sound advice…

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