Posted on May 27th, 2006

“Hell begins the day that God grants you the vision to see all that you could have done, should have done, and would have done, but did not do.” - Goethe

Remember the saying “the road to hell is paved with good intentions?” The road to the kind of regret and hell described above is paved with two roadblocks to success: putting off and putting on.

Let’s take a look at these roadblocks and what to do about them.

Putting Off

Sing along with me, if you will (to the tune of Carly Simon’s “Anticipation”):

“Procrastination, procrastination, Is making me ache It’s keeping me failin’.”

Putting things off, or procrastination, is the most common roadblock to success. Yet we do it to ourselves.

Here’s a partial list of the damage wrought by putting things off:

makes small tasks seem large or insurmountable

makes short tasks time consuming

deludes us into what I call “someday thinking.” Someday I’ll…………….(fill in the blank)

causes us to feel overwhelmed

creates an almost constant state of panic

major source of debilitating stress

fools us into actually believing “I’ll do it later.” NO YOU WON’T!

What to Do

Albert Einstein said “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.”

So I usually like to keep suggestions for change very simple and very useable. These next three ideas, however, are very psychologically complicated, so get ready:

1.Do it now!

2. Do the hard or unpleasant stuff first. This strategy has allowed me to get more done and have more free time than most people I know.

3. The next time you are tempted to put something off, just procrastinate about putting it off. “I’ll do this now, and procrastinate later.” Simply “put off” procrastinating. Procrastinate later, or not at all. In the psycholgy world, this is known as “prescribing the symptom.”

Now I realize that sounds so simple. I suppose I could complicate it for you, add a lot of psycho-babble, but why?

Putting On

“Putting on” is the tendency to lie to and fool ourselves. We basically put ourselves on.

There’s a curious defect in our make-up that I bet you’ve noticed. If we were cars, we’d have been recalled and re-designed. We each have the ability to twist our thinking around so much that we can justify anything, and convince ourselves that we are right.

Here’s a partial list of the damage wrought by “putting on”:

lie to ourselves and believe the lie

believe our ability to rationalize is a good thing, but….

take a look at the word rationalize: if we split the word, we get “rational lies.” And that’s basically what we do - tell lies that sound so rational, make so much sense, it’s easy to forget that we are simply fooling ourselves.

then we go off into the world and operate as if these “rational lies” were true. This sets us up for disappointment and frustration when the rest of the world, who aren’t in on our little drama, doesn’t cooperate with our perception of things.

What to Do

on a regular basis, question some of your own assumptions. Remember, to assume means to make an ass out of u and me.

check to make sure your thinking makes sense. How? Two ways:

ask your self, “If someone were telling me what I’m telling myself, what would I think?”

ask people who know you well to check out your thinking. Be brave enough to ask, “Does this make sense?”

There are enough roadblocks to success without creating our own with the deadly duo of putting off and putting on. Just one more quote to wrap this up, and then I’m outta here:

“The pain of discipline is always less than the pain of regret.”

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