Many people procrastinate because
they fear they'll look foolish if they fail. It took Edison
more than 10,000 failed attempts to discover the tungsten filament
that worked in the incandescent light bulb. A reporter asked
him how he managed to go on working in the face of so many failures.
Edison told the reporter that each failure gave him hope; every
time he failed, he knew he was one step closer to finding the
answer. Edison believed that "many of life's failures are
people who did not realize how close they were to success when
they gave up."
Successful people make more mistakes
than others because they never stop trying to achieve new goals.
If you're not making mistakes, you probably aren't attempting
enough. Force yourself to get out of your comfort zone and take
One kind of fear is good: You
should feel guilty when you don't finish a job, and you should
fear the consequences of sub-par performance. That kind of fear
can be a powerful motivator to perform at your highest level.
Does it help you to think about
the consequences of procrastination? Knowing the consequences
of our actions doesn't always keep us from doing the wrong thing,
of course. If the consequences of not finishing an important
job are not getting you motivated to start it, why not? What's
going on? You have to start asking these questions to get at
the roots of the problem. What is really causing you to procrastinate?
English actor Christopher Parker
said, "Procrastination is like a credit card: It's a lot
of fun until you get the bill." We have all heard smokers
say, "I want to stop smoking but I can't"-as they
light another cigarette. The person who says this doesn't know
what his real problem is. As we watch them smoke, it's clear
that they don't want to quit smoking at all.
Talking about quitting lets smokers
go on enjoying their habit while deluding themselves into thinking
that they really are making an effort to stop. They want to
avoid the part of smoking that causes them to get lung cancer-we
have no reason to doubt that. But it's plain to see that they
enjoy all the other perks they get from smoking. Smokers are
not likely to give up their habit until they are able to face
the real cause of their problem.
Think of a time when you could
have procrastinated but didn't. How did you feel? How could
you turn that into a good habit? When fear threatens to immobilize
you, ask yourself this question: What's the worst thing that
can happen? Write down your answer as precisely as you can.
Be prepared to accept the worst. Now write down as many solutions
as you can think of. Decide on the best action and do it. Ralph
Waldo Emerson said, "Don't waste your life in doubts and
fears: spend yourself on the work before you, well assured that
the right performance of this hour's duties will be the best
preparation for the hours and ages that follow it." Face
your fear and do it anyway.