With January coming to an end, we’re already one month or 1/12th of the way into 2018. How has it gone for you? Where are you now compared to where you wanted to be? Whether you set yourself a New Year’s theme, resolutions, or other types of goals, what kind of progress have you made so far? Have you been taking consistent action, or have you been procrastinating?
I’m not asking these questions to make you feel bad and beat yourself up over the lack of progress. My intention is instead that you’ll face up to the reality of life – and either make a shift towards more realistic plans, or redouble your efforts so that you get back on track.
One of the biggest fallacies that may lead to procrastinating is this one: “I’ll do it when…”
“I’ll join the gym when I’ve lost a bit of weight.”
“I’ll go on a diet when I have more energy.”
“I’ll start dating again when I’m feeling more confident.”
Any of those sound familiar? These justifications are fundamentally flawed and, in fact, each contains an inherent contradiction:
- The whole point of going to the gym is to help you lose some of that weight.
- Your low energy levels are in large part due to your eating habits.
- Having a bit of romance and excitement in your life will boost your confidence.
It’s the same when it comes to looking for a new job, embarking on a career change, or starting your own business. “I’ll do it when…” means putting it off, procrastinating, and it’s highly unlikely that you actually will do it when xyz is true.
Your reasons for putting this off are likely to go much deeper and be more subtle than those apparent excuses that you’re giving yourself:
- Fear – Ah yes, that favourite foe: the fear of failure, fear of making the wrong choice, fear of looking stupid. If you don’t do anything that’s a bit different, then you’ll be no worse off than anyone else and nobody will point their finger and laugh or criticise. If you never try, you can never fail! Hurrah!
- Self-preservation – Questioning where you are and contemplating a big change means questioning the beliefs and principles on which you’ve built your entire career, life and even identity. It’s safer and less unnerving to stay there and put up with whatever pain you’re experiencing now, rather than starting to break that apart.
- Lack of clarity – You may know that you don’t want to do “this” anymore but you may not know what you want to (or can) do instead. Even if you do have an idea, you may not know how to bring it to life; all you know is what you’ve been doing so far. You don’t know where to start, so you don’t start at all!
These reasons for why you’re not taking action are also precisely why you should start taking action:
- The best thing to do when it comes to fear is to face it head on, to examine the worst-case scenario and work out whether you’re willing to accept the risk or not. The best way to overcome the fear is to actually start doing – taking action, however small the steps, will give you confidence and create the momentum that will help you move forward and reap the many rewards that will inevitably come from getting out of your comfort zone.
- As uncomfortable it is to question your fundamental beliefs and previous life choices, it’s far better to do that now than to continue suffering and ignoring the situation until it’s too late. “Too late” meaning either that you’re forced into a far more uncomfortable position (for example, by being made redundant, reaching burnout, or suddenly waking up to the fact that your skillset is no longer competitive in today’s market) – or that you end up on your deathbed regretting having continued on this path for so many more years and even decades. It’s never too late to change – until it is.
- Finally, the only way you’ll ever get clarity on what you want to do and how you’re going to do it is by starting the exploration. The sooner you start, the more time you’ll have to brainstorm and play around with different ideas, to talk to people and research the different possibilities. Not to mention the fact that repositioning yourself in a new field or creating the exposure you need to build a business will take time and so the sooner you start, the better placed you’ll be if and when you do decide to take the leap.
So I urge you to take a good hard look at why you’ve not been taking action, what’s really been getting in the way, and how you might be able to get started – even with the tiniest of steps.
If you recognise yourself in these excuses and justifications and you’re committed to taking action moving forward, I’d love to invite you to a free consultation call where we can look at how I can support you in finally taking transformative action: Book your call here >>