Bill was a classic stay-putter. Almost thirty, he’d never kept a job for more than a year. In between episodes of work, he found friends to take him in or crashed in his parents’ basement. By doing that, Bill was wearing out his welcome just about everywhere, including the basement.

For almost a decade, Bill managed to avoid responsibility by stringing together a series of unrelated online college courses. First he was going to get this degree, then a different degree. As long as he kept changing his major, he avoided questions about graduation. But now he was getting older and the questions wouldn’t go away.

If only he could get a degree in online gaming, Bill would be happy. Unable to maintain the discipline to show up for a job, Bill was religious about game time. Only in the virtual world could Bill show any sign of success. There had to be some way to work some money out of his online prowess. He thought about entering a competition, but he waited too long to sign up. He hadn’t even made it to the exhibition hall to watch those who had; instead, he just stayed in the basement and played online games by himself.

Bill was finding it harder and harder to get out of bed in the morning. The stress of each day was becoming too much. He’d always dealt with that stress by not acknowledging it existed and distracting himself with other things. Now those distractions weren’t working, and Bill had no idea what he was going to do.

Are you a Stay-Putter?

  • What responsibilities are you trying to avoid?
  • Put the responsibilities you’re avoiding in order of priority so you can focus on them one at a time.
  • What distractions are you using to put off making the changes you need to make in your life?

Stay-putters assign themselves to the backseat of their lives. Like true backseat drivers, they complain about where they’re headed but make no move to switch to the front. Instead, they grumble but go wherever life takes them.

Stress is more than happy to drive your life, taking you to places you don’t want to go. You can either stay huddled in the backseat, at the mercy of whatever pressure grabs the wheel at any given moment, or you can stop long enough to accept responsibility for your life and decide to drive it yourself. You can either allow a car full of unruly stresses make driving a nightmare or you can stop long enough to get control of your chaos. Either way, you’ve got to take charge of your life in order to reduce your stress.

Authored by Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE and author of 36 books. Pioneering whole-person care nearly 30 years ago, Dr. Jantz has dedicated his life’s work to creating possibilities for others, and helping people change their lives for good. The Center • A Place of HOPE, located on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety and others.