Dreams are fantasies if we do not put action to them. Dreams—Action—Reality.
I am approaching the end of another semester. With it comes a lot of typical happenings such as:
- Final exams to grade,
- Grades to post,
- Next semester syllabi to prepare, and
- Students looking for that last extra credit opportunity. Why? Because they have procrastinated!
The end of the semester also is a great time for reflection on opportunities seized and opportunities lost. In the simplest terms, the semester began almost 16 weeks ago. What my students and I did back in August has created what we experience today. As I wrote last year, our today is the tomorrow we created yesterday. Here are some random thoughts on procrastination and ways to beat it.
- Procrastination is a killer. It kills action. It counters motivation. It derails intentions. And it will destroy dreams. So, what can we do about it? One thing we can do is pay attention to the fifth word of the preceding line: “do.” It is that simple. Dreams are fantasies if we do not put action to them. Dreams—Action—Reality.
- I have written on this blog about the power of both the words we use and the excuses we make. Yes, events happen to us for which we did not plan. Harold S. Kushner has written about When Bad Things Happen to Good People. We might not have control over all those external events that have an internal impact—but we do have control over how we respond (rather than react). And we have the power to make sure we do not cause the bad things to happen to ourselves.
- Last week I did an activity in class in which students could win a dime every time they finished a particular task. One student scoffed, “Only a dime?” “Well,” I said, “how does a person lose 50 pounds? One pound at a time. How does someone save $1,000? One dime at a time.” Procrastinate on saving the dime, and we will have a more difficult time seeing the $1,000.
- At the end of June I had shoulder surgery. In spite of the worst pain I ever remember enduring, I have absolutely no regrets about the surgery. I am five months out from the surgery. I have been disciplined in my rehab and I now have more use from my shoulder than pre-surgery. If I had procrastinated on the surgery because of inconvenience, potential pain, or fear of the unknown, you know what? I’d still be 5 months from the end of June—but not one step closer to rehabilitation. I made the decision to do the surgery and then I made the decision to do the rehab needed. You can do the same.
- Shawn Achor reminded me of the concept of “activation energy.” It is what we need to either start a new habit or break an old habit. This weekend I shared a strategy with a group in Kansas City. I call it “The Two Minute Drill.” When you feel stymied or overwhelmed by something you need to or want to do, find two minutes (120 seconds) to take a small step toward the goal. Tomorrow, do it again. The next day, do the drill in the morning and then do it again in the afternoon. Keep taking small steps until they add up to something bigger. Remember that pound and that dime mentioned above.
I will leave you with an instructive video about procrastination. It reminds us that while the doing is important, simply doing a lot of stuff is not sufficient. We have to do stuff that has a purpose and moves us toward our dreams. We have to do stuff that matters.
Video recommendation for the week:
But first we have to get up and do!
Enjoy your week—and H.T.R.B. as needed!
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