If you are a living, breathing human being…which I can safely bet you are if you are reading this, then you sometimes procrastinate. It is something that we all do. In fact it is in our very nature to push anything unpleasant to the future. If it is in our very nature to do this, then what’s the big deal right? We’ll do it someday. Sounds like reasonable logic, however most often someday never comes. I have never seen a day in the week, month or year marked someday. As Marvin Ashton put it, "procrastination is an unwholesome blend of doubt and delay.” So guess the real question we need to ask ourselves so that we understand the impact of such delay is to take a look at what procrastination is exactly and what in fact we are delaying.
Principles in Action
I recall reading about a man, let’s call him Dan who struggled with addiction. He was an upstanding member of the community with a wife and children. As he gave into his addiction, he began to lose that which mattered most to him. His wife left him, he couldn’t visit with his children, he lost his job and eventually he became homeless. Now that is not the end of this man’s story. Eventually he realized all that he was losing in his life and turned it all around. He sought help for his addiction and went into recovery, obtained a job again and returned to actively being involved in his children’s lives and the community.
He was speaking one day in front of a group of youth and the person introducing asked the audience to look at the man I described above. They were asked if they could tell that the successful, contributing member of the community standing in front of them was once homeless and lost. The person introducing him went on to describe that because of the Creator and his hard work, the man standing in from of them was a changed person and that through these things he moved on from his mistakes to become the successful person he is today. Following the meeting, Dan pulled aside the person who introduced him in private. Dan spoke to him in a soft but stern voice. He said "I wish you would have told them one more thing". The man looked at Dan with a questioning look as Dan described “you told them that once I turned to my Creator and worked hard to get my life back, things worked out of me. However what you didn’t tell them is that no matter how hard I worked and how much I pleaded with my Creator, I could not get back the things I loved most which I had lost. You see, I turned my life around but my I still did not have my wife and children living with me. The Creator could not restore the blessings I could have had if I had turned my life around earlier.”
I tell you that story because it is true with all of us. When we procrastinate we lose blessings that we could have had. So if procrastination is such a dangerous thing, why on earth would we put ourselves through it? Well there is a mindset that goes a long with procrastination that lulls us into believing it is the best option. This mindset is empowered by a serious of thoughts that our logical mind can hold onto and justify delay. If we are not aware of this procrastination thinking, we will fall prey to it. So let’s look at what are the thoughts that empower procrastination.
The thoughts that empower procrastination are:
• It’s too hard
• It’s too late
• I have no need to...
• The task appears impossible
• I doubt my worthiness
• I’ll wait for roadblocks to be removed
• I’ll wait for the problem to go away
• I don’t have enough…time, money, ability
As you read that list, did you notice any of the procrastination thinking that you listen to? How are they holding you back from your goals?
Cycle to Creating Results
So now that we really understand the impact of these thoughts, we need to understand how change occurs. Our thoughts not only impact our ability to create change in our lives, it is critical. There is Cycle to Creating Results that exists. If we are not aware of this cycle will will not understand how to create real change in our lives. We will run the risk of missing an essential step towards change and feel frustrated and confused as to why we are not able to effectively reach our goals.
Desire - How it works is that in order for us to change anything in our lives, we must first have a desire to change. For example, we are not going to run a marathon if we have no desire to go running!
Thoughts - Then our thoughts need to support the change we want to make. If we are constantly telling ourselves that we cannot do it, that will become true.
Plan - Next we need to plan how we are going to make the change we want. I remember one time I was training to run a half marathon and I thought I was right on track with my goals, until I looked at the distance I was actually running and compared it with the distance I would need to run to complete the race. They were two very different numbers and it took planning to reach my goal.
Action - The next step is to take action! We will not make change simply by thinking about it or planning it. This seems pretty basic but I can’t tell you how many entrepreneurs I have met over the course of my work as a trainer that have spend years just planning to start their business but not actually starting it!
Be Valiant - The next step is being valiant. That means when we fall down, or forget, or procrastinate (which we will at times), we just get back up and try again.
The most incredible thing about this cycle is that it aligns with the law of momentum. What I mean by that is that more we go through this cycle on a particular goal we have, the more momentum we have towards reaching that goal. Our desires increased as we take action, we realize that we actually can do it and it becomes easier for us to do it!
Straightway to Action
So in order for us to avoid the destruction that is caused by procrastination and move towards the goals and dreams we have, we must take straightway action. Marvin Ashton defines straightway as “straightway is an action word, it means immediately, without delay or hesitation." There is a 5 step process that I have found that is bullet proof when taking straightway action. It is one that will help to move us forward predictably even when the task at hand is one that we are afraid of, don’t want to do or just feel like we don’t have enough resources for. If we follow these steps we will be able to move closer towards what we want to accomplish.
5 Steps to Straightway Action
1. Alignment - We need to be following the true principles of our Creator that we know about. This allows us to receive spiritual help in our endeavors. For example if we know that we need to thank the Creator everyday, we better be doing that!
2. Self Discipline - Do the small, consistent, daily tasks necessary to accomplish your goal
3. Accept Responsibility - Know that it is your responsibility to accomplish what you desire in this life and take the steps necessary to do it!
4. Faith - Ask the Creator for help in accomplishing your task & have trust that He can help you
5. Be Valiant - Be willing to get back up and try again
When we take straightway action and take small, consistent steps towards our goals we receive a great deal of blessings from the Creator. We are given an added measure of strength, courage, wisdom, help from above, joy and the ability to create lasting and meaningful change. Will will be able to achieve things that we didn’t know were possible as we are lifted and strengthened by our Creator.
Principles in Action
One time I received a tax form that I needed to fill out. I really don’t like filling out tax forms. I don’t know what it is about tax forms but they kind of freak me out. I worry that I will fill them out wrong or that I will need a ton of information to dig up that I either don’t have or don’t know where to find and so I procrastinate filling it out. I put off filling out this form for months. I even printed it out several times and after carefully shuffling it from place to place to avoid actually completing it, I lost it and needed to reprint it.
Finally the deadline for completing the form was upon me and so I grabbed the paper and reluctantly began filling in the blanks of the form. I picked a time to work on the form everyday until I was completed and followed through on working on it every day. I was surprised to find that once I actually put pen to paper I filled out the form in 5 minutes. That’s right, I sheepishly admit that it literally took me 5 minutes to fill out the form after months of procrastination.
Where are you procrastinating in your own life? We all have a decision to make when it comes to taking action on the things we want to accomplish in this life. Time will pass in our lives whether we take action on our dreams or not. I remember when Andy was contemplating completing his Masters Degree and although he could have easily procrastinated on this and said he will do it on a “someday” that will never come or he could do it now. He taught me a true principle about procrastination when he said to me “4 years are going to pass whether I work on my masters degree or not”.
So what do you want to accomplish in this life?
What are you willing to do to accomplish it?
Will you let the minutia of life get in the way of your dreams or will you fight everyday for what you most want?
Will you do the disciplined, difficult daily decisions to achieve your dreams? Will you follow through when it’s raining, when you feel like crap, when you just don’t want to?
Will you be valiant? Will you get back up and try again when you don’t have enough…time, money, patience, faith.
Will your life pass before your eyes and allow your dreams to go with it or will you be a warrior and fight for your dreams?
I promise that if you make the decision now to begin to take straightway action towards your goals, you will receive help from above. You will be lifted, strengthened, inspired about the next step to take. You have been put at this place, in this life for a reason. The Creator is aware of you and wants to help you achieve your full potential. You have important to do in this life. Take a step in the direction towards worthy goals and you will be able to achieve more than you thought possible. Take a step towards your potential, your goals and your dreams.
The decision is yours and only yours to make. The time is right now, today, straightway.