The routine of daily life gives us the sense that life will go on forever exactly as it is. The result is that we make endless excuses to do tomorrow what should be done today. I was particularly guilty of this when I was younger, where I’d routinely wait until the last minute to do, well… everything.
The worst feeling is when you have a goal in mind, and you take all the necessary steps — only to fall short. It can make you want to give up on your goals. I know this struggle from experience, and it can make starting again very demoralizing. Why is it that we do this? Personally I believe it’s our hesitation towards action. We are constantly doing everything but taking action. We have been avoiding taking action for so long, that after sometime our whole process of wanting to do something, is just that: wanting to do something. We dwell too long in hesitation, which makes starting very difficult.
I’ve come to one conclusion about action. Thinking will only lead to more thinking, and my ability to take action will be dominated by my continual thoughts. So just what can we do to break out of this and act now?
Meditate – Through meditation we give our minds a mental break. We stop thinking so much and we stop listening to our thoughts — they no longer seem so serious. Fear starts out as a thought and progresses into an emotion. So if we learn to think less through meditation, we will fear less. I’ve found the more I meditate, the less I hesitate. I no longer think about how I’m going to do something; I just do it.
Understand your fears – If we do not understand our fears, they will only grow. Take a piece of paper and write down what it is that you want to start doing. Then write down what it is that scares you about doing this. Our most common thoughts are about fear of failure, fear of success, and fear of people not accepting you for what it is you want to do. If you see your fears in front of you, you can begin to understand them. This is the only way to work past your fears.
Realize the importance of failure – Failure is just a stepping stone. The more failures, the more stepping stones. For every stepping stone, you learned and understood what hasn’t worked. Don’t see failure as you not being able to do something. Failure is a process that you can use to analyze your actions. It’s an automatic feedback system that provides detailed accuracy. And remember, you cannot say you failed because you decided to take action. The only guaranteed failure comes from not taking action.
Combat your fears with action – The only way to fight your fears is by taking action. I was scared of starting a website, so starting a website was the only way to fight my fear. I did what my fears said I shouldn’t do. For example, If you are scared of playing a the piano, just have a go at it. You don’t have to be Mozart by tomorrow, but just play your instrument. You will see that failure is not as bad as you think it is, and you’ll be happy you decided to play the piano.
There is no finish line to taking action. There is only one step in front of you, and once you finish that, only then is it possible to focus on the next. You can’t rush through time. Take it slow and focus on the one task. Don’t try to conquer the world in one day. The point of this is just to start, not to reach any desired outcome (but if that happens then great!). By focusing on what you need to get done in the here and now you become immediately in tune with when you’re procrastinating. When you notice something that you just keep putting off, take a minute to drop everything, shut your mind off, and just do it. This will develop the habit of taking action and help you fight procrastination over time.
Peace and Love, Jim