There is a dance that many people dance; it is the Dance of Procrastination. It has been said that Procrastination is the “Stealer of Dreams,” and that is a very apt description. We often procrastinate because we have a fear of tackling an unpleasant task, or several unpleasant tasks. We are so fearful of these changes that we will waste many years in lousy jobs, bad relationships, in bad living conditions and on and on, rather than making the changes we need to make to go forward in order to design our ideal life.
Several years ago, I was working with a young woman who wanted to become a paralegal. She had always loved the study of law and we went over all of the steps she needed to make in order for her to realize her dreams.
The problem is that every time she needed to plan her career move and to create a budget for herself to enable her to afford to go to school, she would either clean her home, weed her garden or start looking up recipes online. It was intentional of course.
As a career coach it was necessary for me to shine a mirror up to her and to help her reflect on why she was not getting results. The woman knew what she wanted, she just didn’t want to make the change. It was safer for her to remain under-employed in a relatively meaningless job. Yet at the end of the day, she couldn’t figure out why the life change she sought was just not happening and why her progress was halted.
What was true of the woman I describe above, is repeated over and over again. I knew an executive who was in the same job for 35 years, and he hated every blasted minute of it. He knew he wanted to make a change, but never wanted to face his fears. It all goes back to a sense of self-awareness. Procrastination is something that is easy to justify; “I can’t do this” or “I won’t do that,” and it accumulates. We tend to pile excuses on ourselves, level upon level.
Again, I must hearken back to the task of having a plan and taking positive steps in the direction of making changes. Procrastination “does not like” any attempt at change; the way to attack the tendency to procrastinate is to break your insurmountable fears into very small, doable tasks. Pick a time; any time that suits you; Monday night from 6:30 to 7:30 for example, and devote that time only to achieving your goal. Let nothing else get in your way. The housecleaning, gardening, television programming, etc. can wait.
Report back to yourself. “What did I want to accomplish in this hour? Did I accomplish what I set out to accomplish?” Also, do not repeat the same steps. If you are attempting to write a book on household accounting, for example, write an outline and then follow it. Do not get stuck on writing and re-writing the introduction; write the introduction and then go onto chapter one. Worry about editing after the entire book has been written.
A famous story about procrastination is the story of a man who was an executive in the plastics industry but his dream was to be a pastry chef. He was forced out of his job at 62, and he was despondent.
He went to a coach and the coach said to him: “Now you can finally realize your dream of becoming a pastry chef, isn’t it great?”
The man looked at his coach and said, “It’s too late, I’m too old.”
“What will you say when you’re 72?” asked the coach.
If not now, then when?
You can design your ideal life. You can start today.