The Land of Procrastination or Something Else?

Bill Abbate

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How many times have you said:

"When the time is right, I will _____________."

"Before I hit _____ years old, I will _____________.

" I will begin to ____________ soon.

What do you do when you keep putting off that dream or important thing in your life, yet you do not consider yourself a procrastinator in the normal sense of the term?

This is not everyday procrastination

For most of my career, I have been a get it done and get it done now kind of person. While everyone procrastinates at times, I learned to use it to my advantage. I got rid of that everyday plague of procrastinating long ago. Yet…

I know I am not alone as I speak with others who have similar dreams or desires who use the same " I will get to or do it someday" phrases mentioned above. Is this an acceptable way to be? It depends, doesn't it?

If you want to continue getting nowhere on such things, keep doing what you are doing. But if you want to change your lack of results, do something different!

What made me begin to reflect along these lines is the following quote from an American author and essayist who lived in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

"The question for each man to settle is not what he would do if he had means, time, influence and educational advantages; the question is what he will do with the things he has." Hamilton Wright Mabie (1846-1916)

Mabie's words made me think of how often we put off something we want, yet we stall. We always have excuses. We put a condition on whatever it is, saying, "When the time is right, I will ___________. Or we say when ___________ happens, I will finally ___________, and so forth.

The problem with this kind of thinking is we never get started, or if we get started, we do not finish. Is that any way to go through life?

I remember saying I WILL write my book next year. The problem is I kept saying it for 20 years! Then I thought I would get to it once I retired. Although I did work on it on and off after retiring, I was nowhere near finishing it until I nearly died from a series of heart attacks! I do not recommend taking such a path to get a book written! I almost lost my chance. In case you are wondering, I finally finished the book and had it published in 2019!

Then there were my plans to retire, which I had set at 2003, and moved to 2008… Were it not for Jane, my wife, making a five-year plan to retire in 2013, I might still be working! Making a plan gave me a deadline which helped me become accountable. I committed to Jane to retire in July 2013, so I wanted to keep my commitment out of respect for her. After all, my life is not mine alone.

What have you wanted to complete, or at least get started? Is it to write and publish a book, finish your education, get that next degree, get married, have a child, begin working part-time, start a business, work from home, buy a vacation home, or retire? If it is none of those, what is it for you? Please leave a comment below if you have an idea, as I would love to know.

Using the opposition

"Don't be afraid of opposition. Remember, a kite rises against, not with the wind." Hamilton Wright Mabie (1846-1916)

What stops us from achieving this thing we deem important to our life? Are we not allowing the wind to blow us wherever it wishes? A kite is pulled against the wind to rise, and a plane will head into the wind to fly. But what do we do? We try to take the path of least resistance when resistance is what we need to get us off the ground. Instead of using the power of the resistance to lift us, we go in the opposite direction.

"When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it." Henry Ford (1863-1947)

If we can learn a lesson from the kite and the airplane, we must head into the wind to accomplish flight. By using its opposing force, we will fly and rise high. How can we do this? Follow this three-step process:

Step 1

Before you can create anything in life, you must first see it in your mind. You cannot create what you can't see or describe.

Step 2

Next, you must plan to achieve it, however simple the plan is. The clearer you become on what you want, the better the plan will be. Never forget what one of our founding fathers said:

"If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!" Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

My biggest problem for too many years was not that I didn't know what I wanted, but I failed to plan. Until Jane helped me put our plan together, my dream to retire remained only that, a dream.

Step 3

The final thing you must do is use the opposition to help you get started in earnest. Without building a sense of urgency, you will get little or nothing done.

Begin fighting that natural tendency toward easiness or enjoyment in you. Recognize it for what it is. It is a thief! Stop it from robbing you of what you want. Doesn't it make you angry when someone steals something valuable from you? It does me.

I finally started to get angry at myself for not working on what I wanted much earlier. The precious, invaluable, wasted time, stolen and lost forever, never to be returned. And it was my fault! I had robbed myself!

It may sound unconventional to get mad at yourself, but don't forget, you are only using this opposing force to get you off the ground and flying high. You will forgive yourself soon enough as you make progress. The crucial thing you need now is to build a sense of urgency. You need to allay as much regret as you can in the future! Lean into your anger. Use this opposing force to take off, lift you up, and take you higher. To do this, get rid of every expectation and replace it with a serious intention to finish and achieve what you desire.

Remember, the resistance you need to take off consists of the opposing forces you allow in your life. Get mad at yourself for allowing constant interruptions and distractions. Put down that phone or tablet. Turn off that television. Start working on your dream. There will be time to relax after you achieve it. Oppose your own illicit desires and work on your dream to make it come true.

Let me say one final time, stop allowing your dream to stand there neglected. You are your own worst enemy when it comes to these important things. If you do not take responsibility for making it happen, who will? All the excuses in the world won't amount to a hill of beans. You alone shoulder the responsibility to do it. There is no one and nothing you can blame it on. You know this is true, do you not?

Now for the remainder of Mabie's quote from the beginning of this article:

"The moment a young man ceases to dream or to bemoan his lack of opportunities and resolutely looks his conditions in the face, and resolves to change them, he lays the corner-stone of a solid and honorable success. "Hamilton Wright Mabie (1846-1916)

That is exactly what you want! Resolve to lay that cornerstone and lay it now!

Final thoughts

"Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today." Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

We need to overcome our natural tendencies and develop the resolve to change the way we see our dreams! Not an easy job, but a necessary one. You don't need to and should not wait until death knocks at your door to have a wake-up call. Get to work on that dream now. See it, plan it, commit to it and get it done!

Heed the words of a wise man:

"We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret." Jim Rohn (1930-2009)

It is your choice of pain. Which do you choose? Now or later?

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA
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