When I was small kid in grade school I perfected the art of procrastination. I could easily take 15 minutes or more to get out my pencil and paper. My teachers used to tell me that I belonged in the Guinness book of World Records for taking the longest amount of time to get ready for class. As a kid who didn’t enjoy school, this seemed like fun. What I didn’t know then was how difficult this habit of procrastination would be to overcome. Whether you procrastinated instead of getting ready for class or not, procrastination is something that we all to one degree or another must overcome in order to grow and achieve more in our lives.
Have you ever noticed how long it takes for resolutions to be abandoned? You see this is one of those things that makes us uncomfortable because, although most people are OK when it comes to setting resolutions, few are good at keeping up with them. Gym memberships are a great example. Gym memberships are popular at the beginning of the year, and the reason that so many are sold with 1 year contracts (it pays to read the fine print) is that the gym folks know that most people won’t stick with it and will drop their membership at their first opportunity. Nobody thinks to themselves, today I’m going to quit. Quitting is something that just happens gradually. First we make excuses to ourselves and rationalize that we must delay or postpone because of schedule conflicts or we’re not feeling up to it, or … You get the idea. After a bit of this rationalizing and excuse making, the resolution has been killed – not by conscious proactive thought, but by procrastination.
Recognizing the Real Enemy
In order to break down the brick wall of procrastination or beat the quick-sand of resistance, we’ve got to face it down. The problem, the source of all the resistance that we encounter, is not outside of us – the enemy is within. Procrastination and resistance manifests in our lives in various forms – schedule conflicts, not feeling well, low energy, distractions of all sorts, etc. By thinking of these things as isolated events or situations, we keep ourselves from recognizing the bigger picture. Only by shifting our mindset and seeing the bigger picture can we break through the barriers to high performance that just seem to keep us from the progress that we’d like to have. As isolated events, we can easily excuse the delay in moving forward with our resolution, goal, or project.
The key is to view these excuses as the resistance that materializes when we make a commitment to progress. A great, fast-reading book to help you raise your consciousness of the role that resistance is playing in your life and help you break through it is “The War of Art,” by Steven Pressfield. By raising your consciousness around the issue of procrastination, you’re in a much better position to recognize it for what it is when it appears. Only by recognizing the silent killer of resolutions and dreams for what it is can you possibly overcome the hurdles that it places in your path.