Cheryl always had a passion for food, nutrition, and health. From a young age she loved cooking. After graduating college, she landed jobs out of convenience rather than as a result of planning based on what she really loved.
The sales positions she secured paid well enabling Cheryl to live comfortably. She moved a number of times for work. Over the past 20 years, Cheryl has worked for at least 10 different companies. She jumps from one position to another based on salary. Cheryl has stayed in sales because she finds the work lucrative for the effort required, not because of any love for the field.
In her spare time, she has worked in restaurants, catering, food product development, and as a health and lifestyle coach. She always talks with her friends about her desire to open her own restaurant. However, Cheryl invariably concludes with all the reasons it’s not the right time to start up her own business. Now in her mid forties, Cheryl has been putting off her dream for nearly two decades.
Cheryl’s example is not unique. Many people put things off. Although they have numerous reasons, all wind up with the same result; goals that are put off usually never get accomplished. Are there things you want to accomplish but keep putting off?
There are a variety of justifications. Although you can easily find many excuses to put things off, you only need just one reason why you should get started. Let’s look at some avoidance strategies and ways to counteract them.
We put off those things that require a lot of effort or time or carry a risk of failure. Goals that require a major decision are also prone to being put off. Insignificant issues are easier to handle first and therefore displace more important actions.
We start developing the habit of putting things off when we are young. With more years ahead of us than behind us, we develop a false perception that time is infinite. Unless you have a burning desire from a young age, it’s easy to put things off because there is no time pressure.
Even as you start to experience the apparent acceleration of time with each passing year, the behavior pattern developed when you felt time was infinite persists. Putting things off all too often becomes an automatic reaction.
Complacency is another factor that leads us to put things off. When you are content, there’s no sense of urgency to take any risks necessary to attain a goal. Actually, there’s more motivation to not venture into the unknown and possibly compromise your comfort.
Sacrifice is another reason people put things off. They don’t particularly relish the type of sacrifice necessary. Whether the sacrifice involves time or money, they are not convinced that giving up something concrete now for a possible achievement in the future is worth the trade.
People also put things off because of the effort required. The path of least effort and resistance is staying where you are. Anything worthwhile in life takes effort. The more ambitious your goals, the more effort will be required.
What are the things you want to accomplish but keep putting off? As you have seen, there are numerous justifications for doing so. The longer you have been putting things off, the more engrained this habit has become. Unless you break through this limitation, you will miss out on countless opportunities.
Make a list of all the things you have been putting off. Identify the steps you need to take to accomplish each goal. Now get started today taking the first step for any of your goals. You can transform yourself from a procrastinator into a person of action.
NOW AVAILABLE: "Dare to Live Without Limits," the book. Visit www.BryanGolden.com or your bookstore. Bryan is a management consultant, motivational speaker, author, and adjunct professor. E-mail Bryan at
or write him c/o this paper. 2012 Bryan Golden