Are You an Action Taker or a Procrastinator?
Rev. Dr. Kitty Boitnott, NBCT, RScP
Heart-Centered Career Transition and Job Search Seach Coach
No amount of advice or “how to” information is going to do you any good unless you are willing to take action on it at some point. You could become an expert on setting up websites, for example. Or you could be the best writer in the world! But no one will ever know if you don't set up websites that people use or write and share your work with others. If you don’t start taking action on what it is you want in your life, nothing will ever happen.
I know a lot of people who get stuck in the cycle of wanting things but being unwilling or unable to do anything about it. They want everything to be "just right" before getting started. The trouble is, life doesn't really work that way.
I remember a nutrition expert speaking at my church for a special talk one Sunday a few years ago. She shared an insight that I have never forgotten. She said her patients would come to her with complaints about their health in general. Or they might come in and complain about their weight in particular. But to the person, when she tried to talk about a plan of action, they almost always wanted to wait to get started.
They wanted to wait until they lost five or ten or twenty pounds first. She said, "Hardly anyone wants to start from where they are. They want to wait for a 'better time.'"
Everyone laughed at the sheer silliness of that, but her point has stuck with me. Don't we often get caught up in wanting to wait for a "better time" in various areas of our lives?
Don't wait. Start where you are!
Some people have made waiting a way of life. They wait for "Mr. Right" or "Ms. Right" and twenty years later they are still waiting.
If they are like one of the patients of that nutrition expert, they wait to lose the first five or ten pounds first. The trouble is that while they wait to lose that five or ten pounds, they keep gaining. And then they have a new five or ten pounds to lose. They never get where they think they need to be to get started.
And so they never start.
They stay stuck in a constant state of waiting for the "right" time or the "right" set of conditions. People who wait for no other reason than to be waiting for the "right time" might be procrastinating. The definition of "procrastination" is "the action of delaying or postponing something."
Notice that the definition doesn't offer reasons for delaying or postponing something. It isn't the reason that is the key to avoiding taking action. It is the avoidance itself. And we have all been guilty of it at some point in our lives.
Learning new skills for something we want to do is the easy part. Putting those skills into action is often the greater challenge.
Sometimes, we can delay doing so due to the fear of failure. But, an even more subtle problem, is the fear of success that holds us back. When we take action and succeed, we no longer have an excuse, do we? We proved to ourselves and the world that we could do it. The problem? That ups the ante, doesn't it? If you succeed in that effort, what lies ahead of you next? That may be what you fear.
What does success mean for you in your life? Would it negatively impact your relationships? Would it require you to change your life in some significant way that might yank you out of your comfort zone? These are just a few reasons people give for holding themselves back. They aren't afraid to fail. They are afraid of success!
So, then what?
Fear of success may seem like a good problem to have, but believe it or not, it can be as debilitating as the fear of failure. In fact, because it is so often so subtle, it makes it an even worse situation for people to find themselves in.
Another reason for not taking action is that people want everything to be "perfect" first. For instance, newlyweds sometimes say they want to wait before starting a family. They want to save more money first. The truth is, though, if they wait to have "enough" to raise children, they will never have any!
The same is true in starting a business. Sometimes, you just have to go for it. It is definitely possible to get caught up in over-planning. If you wait too long, your competitors are going to pounce on the opportunity. You'll be left feeling like you should have acted sooner. And the truth is that perhaps you should have.
It is not just a cliché that failure is your best teacher. If you look at the profiles of your idols, you will find that failure is a factor throughout their experiences. They will also describe why they failed. And then they offer how they used their failure as an opportunity.
Successful people never let failure stop them. They see failure as a temporary set back. And they look for the lesson they need to learn from the experience. Their "failure" moves them closer to their ultimate success. The media only highlights their successes. They make it seem as though these successful people are "overnight successes." They often gloss over their failures and hardships. If you dig deep into their stories, however, their profiles tell a different story.
What is it that you are waiting for? Is it going back to school for a master's degree or a doctorate? Are you waiting to change your job or career?
If you are waiting, think seriously about the "reasons" you have for waiting. Are they valid reasons or are they just excuses? Are you clear about your true motivations? Or are you lulling yourself with excuses that ring hollow if you talk about them to other people?
Isn't it true that we are often inspired by the hard-won success stories of others? Think of Oprah Winfrey, for example. She grew up poor in Mississippi. She was molested at a young age by a family member. She had a child at the age of 14. She has battled her weight and her insecurities her whole life.
But Oprah is one of the most successful women on the planet today. She is also one of the most beloved women on the planet because she has been a truth teller. She has shared her unvarnished struggles with the world. And she has allowed other people to share their own struggles.
So let me ask you. What is it that you are waiting for? Have you examined--and I mean really, honestly examined-- the reasons (or the excuses) you are using? Are the reasons you started out with still valid, or have you been waiting for so long you don't know where to begin?
There is no time like right now to get started on whatever it is you want. Have you been planning to write a book but haven't started it? Then start writing! You don't have to publish it today. But you need to be writing today if you ever want to have it ready to publish.
Have you been waiting to lose five or ten (or more) pounds? Then get yourself to Weight Watchers or call NutriSystem. Or download one of the hundreds of apps that are out there. Do something to get yourself started.
And once you have started, stick with your commitment and keep going. No one is ever an "overnight" success. Nothing worthwhile ever comes "easy." You have to put in the time, sweat, and yes, sometimes the tears, to be successful. Have a clear vision in your mind of what it is you want. Then go for it and stick with it in spite of your "failures" and setbacks.
Persistence pays off.
Who knows? One day, you may have your own story of failures that led to your ultimate success. You may even share with others how you were afraid of success at first.
And your sharing could help others. They may read about you or hear you and be inspired to overcome a similar problem before it derails them. That could happen. And if it does, don’t be surprised if you receive a note from them thanking you for helping them. When that happens you will know that your struggle inspired someone else to keep going. That's what I call "paying it forward."
So check yourself. What is it you want? Have you been waiting for the right time? The right spouse? The right house? The right degree?
You only have now. Nothing else is guaranteed in life. So get clear about what it is you want and then take action today toward making it a reality. It won't necessarily become reality overnight. But if you start now, you will make it a reality eventually. With daily action toward what it is you want in your life, you can have, be or do anything you want.
Until next time.
If what you want to do is change your career path, there is no time like now to get started. I am offering a 4-week "Jumpstart Your Job Search" program. Click the button below to purchase now:
There is no getting around it. Before you can begin any successful job search or career change, you must know what you want to do.
Once you have answered that question, you need to create a plan.
Set goals and benchmarks with deadlines to keep you on track.
That is what the "Jumpstart Your Job Search Starter Program" is designed to do for you.
In Lesson 1, you will address the #1 challenge...answering the question, "What do you want to do next?"
Lesson 2 will help you get in touch with what your next steps should be. It will help you create a plan, set SMART goals, and get started on finding or creating the job or your dreams.
Once you have settled on the "what" you can start thinking about the "how." How will you make your dream job or career a reality? The first step, however, remains to figure out what you want to do next in your life.
You can figure out the rest later.
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HERE IS SOME OF WHAT YOU WILL LEARN:
Lesson 1: Answer the question, "What do you want to do now?" This is the #1 challenge for every job seeker or career changer.
Lesson 2: Based on clarity and focus about what you want to do, set SMART goals that will get you started.
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If you want this to be your last year in the classroom or you want to change your job in the next 6 months, this is the program you need to help you get started.