It’s so easy to get diverted from the task at hand, from what you say is important. Doing that once or twice may be acceptable, but continually breaking agreements with yourself and other people takes its toll on your spirit, your integrity, and even your self-esteem. The more you put off until tomorrow what can be done today, the less likely you are to feel good about yourself. Like it or not, there is a connection between procrastination and self-esteem.
Once you start making excuses for not doing what you say you’ll do, it becomes easy to continue making excuses, until one day you find that procrastination has become part of who you are. Then, of course, you open the door for procrastination’s companion – guilt! You know, that nagging, annoying voice that tells you you’ve done something wrong – yet again. The more you procrastinate, the more guilt you feel; the more guilt you feel, the more you procrastinate. And because guilt is such an uncomfortable feeling, you often seek relief by blaming someone or something else. In some cases, you even blame the person you made the commitment to, because in your mind, he or she forced you to make the commitment in the first place.
I once put off sending a thank-you note to a friend for a valuable referral. While my excuse was that I forgot because I was so busy, in truth, there was no valid reason for not taking three minutes to write a note of appreciation. Every day I thought about it and every day passed without taking action. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months, and eventually it was almost a year before I took action. During that entire period, I avoided seeing my friend because I was ashamed and felt guilty. I felt guilty because I knew that I wasn’t living up to my own standards. I began to think of ways to save face with my friend without having to admit the truth. The truth being that I really had no excuse for my procrastination. I procrastinated my way into a corner and could not find my way out until the pain had become so great. Finally, one day I summoned the courage to tell her the truth. What a relief! And because I had the courage to walk through my fear of what she would think of me, there was a happy outcome.
- So think about the things you are currently putting off.
- Do you have unfinished business to attend to?
- Do you have an important task that you need to complete?
- Do you have a dream that requires your action?
- Do you have a thank you note of your own that has yet to be sent?
- What price are you paying for your procrastinations?
- Do not put off until tomorrow what can and should be done today, because tomorrow may never come. Get started now!