(title inspired from a friend of mine, thank you, Tony Hamilton)
I often advise my clients to act now, the fact is, unless we are going to act upon doing what is needed to be done for us to attain our goals, we will not get there.
The famous line stated by the Chinese philosopher and the founder of ‘Taoism’ Laozi (or Lao-tzu) was “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. If we do not take the first step, then how are we supposed to reach there? Also I do not need to remind you that the first -step is usually the hardest one…
The above question within itself answers the need to take action for any goal we wish to acquire. However, we all have a tendency to procrastinate due to fear, no matter how we sugar-coat it, the reason is always ‘procrastination due to fear’. Some people fear because they do not want to get out of their comfort zones, some peoples fear is that they will not have it all perfect if they act now, some its financial fears etc..
If we fail to plan and keep procrastinating we’ll keep putting off, putting off and putting off until the perfect time arrives, we’ll die without taking any action, then on our death beds we’ll be regretting this lack of action and questioning why we didn’t do it. I say this, because thats where we are going to end up if we keep putting these things off. However, I do agree with the above fears and that they are challenges that need to be addressed, i.e. if financial security is the fear as we would be holding a roof over our heads, then there is no harm in planning how we are going to achieve this. By acting does not solely mean quit you’re current job and burn all the bridges, no, I mean start planning, start working on your plans, become prepared for your new life, (please refer to my articles ‘Keeping a Journal’ and ‘Goal Setting’ which will help guide you on this process).
Some say, the primary culprit of procrastination is a lack of urgency. Until we feel urgency swelling up inside of us, we do not have the motivation to take action on our plans to achieve our Goals. When we create urgency within ourselves to act, we become what people call, ‘action orientated beings’ or ‘driven’ soon you’ll have folks coming up to you asking what your secret is and how you managed to achieve so much in a short space of time.
Other studies state there are two ways you can utilise the time in our lives, the way of procrastination and the way of persistent action, they are both opposite to one another. Persistent action means we never quit and Procrastination often means we never start, or start but not finish (the inability to finish something which is also classed as procrastination).
Lets first look at lack of urgency: How would we create this urgency that is required for us to get up and go?
There are two ways of creating urgency
- The first is to create tension. The reason most people don’t act is because they are comfortable where we are at. We do not feel any compelling tension to change our current situation. This tension means to become uncomfortable with where we are at, such that we start associating pain with our current circumstances in order for us to get up and act. By building this tension, we give ourselves the motivation and desire to act, therefore change our current circumstances.
All tension involves two points or forces. In other words, tension is created when something is stretched between two separate points or opposing forces. The two points that we must establish are:
- Know where we currently are; fully understand everything about our current situation, status and our surroundings. Ask ourselves the following questions; If I carry on doing what I am doing, where will I be in 1, 3,5,10 years time? Is this where I will truly be happy and satisfied with my life? If I had all the money and resources I needed, would I stay where I am?
- Where do I really want to go, be or do once I achieve my goals? If I start on my process for achieving my goals where will I be in 1, 3,5,10 years time? Now imagine yourself after those years (1, 3, 5, & 10), how does it feel? What do you look like? Where are you living? What car are you driving? What are others saying about you? What are the articles in the paper saying about you? How blissful are you, your family and friends?
- Now come back to where you are and look at what you need to do daily, weekly, monthly to plan the process in order to achieve your goal. What do you have to do to prepare yourself for what you are about to receive? Now, look at where you stand now….can you see, feel and understand what I mean by tension?
By following the above process, we set up a situation where what we want is substantially different from where we currently are. This builds the tension which generates urgency for us to act and as a result of acting, we change our situation.
Often we have all been guilty of setting goals that are sometimes so challenging (too short of a time span in correspondence with the goal we wish to achieve), or easily achievable as a result there has been no challenge to overcome and we have not experienced anything new to add as a skill to our lives. We have to always make certain that we are always growing within our workplace, relationships with others but mainly within ourselves, that’s where we are at our most happiest and fulfilled, i.e. there is no creative tension because there is no stretch between where you are now and where you want to be. However, if we set our goals too far out into the future and too different from where we currently are, this creative tension will be stretched too far resulting in stress (i.e. Panic Zone).
Please see diagram below:
“The comfort zone is the place where apathy thrives, where motivation dies and the status quo remains. The panic zone is the place where there is too much pressure, the stakes are too high and living here will burn you out. In between those two areas is the stretch zone, this is the place where we find the right amount of challenge and the right level of pressure.This is where we should monitor our goals, and make sure we carry out an ambitious view on where to set our goals.” provided by Dean Seddon