“The trouble is you think you have time!” - Buddha
"You may be as gifted as Mozart, yet if you shelve your dreams and never show up, your gifts will remain hidden in that old trunk from vintage times - biting the dust and wallowing in regret! There is nothing more painful than allowing your talents to wilt without ever realizing your full potential."
Winners aren't necessarily the people with most talent. They are the ones who simply show up! In doing so, they gain momentum and visibility, while continuing to perfect their art. The two virtues that reap tremendous rewards are: the courage to show up (despite the flaws) and consistency.
On the contrary, one of the biggest causes of failure and disappointment is not starting at all. One of the most obvious reasons why people feel bogged is putting things on tomorrow and then sweating
over backlogs and deadlines.... and just ending up feeling unfulfilled. One of the biggest factors leading to stress and anxiety is straying into the past or hopping around in future, without realizing the sheer power and magnitude of NOW.
Despite knowing it all, we have all succumbed to the seductive yet destructive temptation of putting things on tomorrow. But the problem is, there's just not enough time... as you fall into the trap of procrastination, trivialities of life take over, dreams become dormant, and passivity gobbles up all your enthusiasm. You prioritize fixing the door knob over practicing your skills. You become more and more drawn to Netflix than breaking a sweat at the gym. You slip into inactivity, thinking "another day is on the horizon"...
Another day, when maybe you will feel more inspired or energized to take action. Another day, a perfect one - devoid of all the drama, replete with resources, and rife with opportunities.
You live for another day. Not today. Not now. Another day - the day that does not even exist yet.
But what if your ideal day never dawns? What if there's always a door knob to fix, a piece of furniture to dust, a clock to repair, and a shelf to declutter? Are you willing to forego all the magic that awaits exploration while you fritter away your time focussing on the mundane? Now I am not suggesting that the mechanical stuff is not important. It is. It must be addressed and sorted. However, in doing so, please do not forget that better things are vying for your attention too!
Do not let procrastination paralyze you. Outwit that grinch before it saps your creativity and zeal. Tap into your talents before they rust and rot in the abyss. Consider employing some of these strategies:
1. Have a clear vision - Clarity is big! It is very important to understand what really, truly matters to you. What makes your heart beat with excitement? Sometimes, the vision that we carry in our hearts is a borrowed one. It is an idea that has been implanted by someone else. It's their version of how your life "should" look like. In most cases, we hold on to the version of ourselves that our parents or society in general want us to be. Before you cling onto that version, dive deep within. Clarity is the first step towards success. Clarity inspires action and creation. Most people generously extend their deadlines or postpone pursuing their goals because they are simply not interested. The goal, the vision, the dream is not theirs. It has been downloaded through conditioning or compulsion. It is futile to strive for a standard that you never set for yourself in the first place. Begin by asking yourself: "What does fulfilment mean to me?"
2. Write it down - Once you are clear about where you want to be, create a roadmap of how you will get there. Your roadmap will act as your personal navigation tool. Make a list of the steps you must take, the people you must meet, and the skills you must learn for getting where you want to be. Writing your goals will amplify your intention, bolster your resolve, and steer you in the right direction. There is science behind the power of written goals and reasons why they transform into reality but I will save that topic for another time. For now, note that written goals are much more powerful than random thoughts in your head. Written words exude authority, seriousness, intention, planning, power, and purpose.
3. Break it down - When I was a kid, I had a poster that was pasted on the wall right in front of my desk. It read,“Little progress every day adds up to big results.” I have encrusted that message on my mind and continue to practice the wisdom of taking small but significant steps in the direction of my dreams, every single day. The upshot is: while it’s important to have big dreams and great goals, it is even more important to slice those grand goals into small, manageable, practical steps. Your vision must inspire you rather than overwhelm you by its size or splendour. Your dreams must move you into action, not deter you from taking risks. Your goals must motivate you, not bog you down. The way to go is to break your goals into small, surmountable steps that must be tackled persistently. Running a marathon begins with putting one step ahead of another. That is all you must focus on - taking one step.
4. First things first - This is the No.1 rule for beating procrastination. As you wake up in the morning and freshen up, make it a point that the first real and substantive task of the day is directed towards your primary goal. A real and substantive task has three characteristics: it requires deliberate concentration of energy and effort, the results compound over time, and it cultivates discipline/habits (thereby, sculpting a strong character). If your goal is fitness, your first real and substantive task is to stretch and move your body. If your goal is to complete your thesis or prepare for an exam, your first real and substantive task is to read, write, or research. When you tackle a challenging task first thing in the morning, you're telling the Universe (and your brain) that your goal matters; that you are willing to devote your prime time and your best self to this venerated vision. By taking on your goal first thing in the morning, you ensure that the fulfillment takes precedence over futility. As the day progresses, we often find ourselves stuck in a rut. We get so enmeshed in the usual, the prosaic, and the insignificant, that at the end of a busy day we are left with little or no energy for the things that truly matter. To tackle this, reroute your routine. Do first things first.
5. Start rather mechanically - Get rid of what is called the analysis paralysis. The term connotes a state of over-thinking about doing or not doing something, which eventually precludes one from doing anything at all, thus, paralyzing the task itself. Let’s enumerate the causes of analysis paralysis: lack of clarity, lack of commitment, and lack of confidence. Our brains are adept at devising excuses for "not doing something" or "putting things on tomorrow". The mind is an artful trickster that wants to keep us safe and comfortable at all times. This unfortunately means zero growth. And we, as slaves of the scheming mind, often give in to the temptation of excuses and the promise of tomorrow. We often spend too much time evaluating, analyzing, and dissecting, before actually acting on something that needs to be done. That is why, it is important not to think before you get off the bed and go for a jog, or before you flip open that book that you have always wanted to read. Get out of your own way and embrace the do it now attitude to beat that overtures of your mind before it hoodwinks you!
Remember, you have already done your home-work. You asked yourself the most important questions: What fulfills you? What resonates with you? What is the roadmap? You have written your goals and chopped them into tiny, practical, and measurable steps. So the thinking part is over. To combat the inertia of inaction, you have to stop allowing your brain to sabotage your will. Do not allow your brain to come up with excuses. Do not give it time to contrive, lest it subverts the whole process. Sometimes, thinking less leads to doing more.
6. Focus on this moment - Don’t be led by the illusion that there will ever be the perfect time for you to finally act on your dreams. If your actions are contingent upon creating the right space, time, resources, or attitude, then unfortunately, your goals are doomed to fail. There will never be a more perfect time to begin than now, for now is all there is. Do what you can. Start where you are. Use what you have. There is no promise of tomorrow!
7. What do you strive for? - Do you strive for perfection? How do you define perfection? How do you measure it? Perfection is one of the most elusive and esoteric concepts you will ever come across. It is dangerous to pursue perfection when you cannot even define it. Strive for excellence instead. One of the surest ways to tackle the perfectionist syndrome is to set clear and unmistakable deadlines. Goals without neatly marked timelines and become dead-wood. They are perpetually stashed away because the ever-so-elusive, perfect time, place, or circumstance, never arrives. Now, is your only chance.