As a lifelong procrastinator, I finally have fully embraced the mantra “do it now!” I had a habit of putting things off until the last minute for many reasons. At no time is dealing with procrastination more relevant than in our “bonus years”. At this fabulous time in mid-life, I am so grateful for each morning, particularly when I reflect upon those for whom their life ended far too soon. So, putting off the important things in my life was a luxury I no longer could afford.
Here are my 3 challenging issues and keys to help you do what’s important now, with less procrastination.
Issue #1: I thought everything should be done perfectly or it just wasn’t good enough for others or myself, so I put things off and not get started on projects. I’d get so close to the deadline and find myself running out of time and say, “well, I just didn’t have enough time for it to be perfect.” It somehow justified I couldn’t possibly have done it perfectly.
Key #1: I realized “perfection” simply doesn’t exist….there will always be something better at some point in time, and someone else’s definition on what’s perfect. What might be a perfect meal or perfect experience is only so at that moment…it’s relative to timing and how I experience it.
Action: Now, I ask myself—Does this truly give me pleasure now or will it in the foreseeable future? Is this result fine for the situation, the amount of time and the amount of energy I am willing to invest? Is it really that important?
Issue #2: I thought I had all the time and energy in the world. Everything felt unlimited to me.
Key #2: I truly believe I do have “enough” time and “enough” energy to live a full, valuable life. However, it no longer feels unlimited today where there are more years lived than years ahead for me. (Ok, let’s not get into the philosophical or spiritual perspectives at this time—that’s another conversation entirely.) I have come to terms with the fact I have a finite amount of time left on this planet. I also know I have the same 24 hours in the day as everyone else.
Action: Now, I am more aware of what I’m doing, who I’m spending time with, and how I feel throughout the day’s activities.
Issue #3: Scrambling and sliding into a deadline to finish something gave me an adrenaline high and I really believed I did my best work under pressure. (After all, I received many “A’s” on term papers, written during those infamous “all-nighters”! )
Key #3: I still love the feeling, but have found ways to experience “the highs of life” in other, healthier ways. I also know I do not do my best work under pressure—that was flawed, outdated and just bad logic!
Action: Now, I’ve learned that pre-planning, setting a reasonable schedule to get things done, and allow for time to review and revise along the way, I have saved money, have had better things show up, and had time to truly enjoy the process.
Simply start from right where you are! Something small, a baby step, move in the direction of your dreams….right now!
Join Nancy and Cherryll as they talk about how “You are the most important person in your life.”
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In times of major transitions, we impatiently want to leap ahead of ourselves and onto the next thing. Often without much thought. In my experience, this rarely works….the best forward movement in these times seems to be by small turtle steps. Remember the tortoise and the hare? Most of us have moved through our lives like that rabbit….hopping along and moving quickly. We dart around to get where we need to be, avert possible disasters, and react to the immediate situation.
Now consider the turtle who slowly moves ahead and arrives (in the story at least) well before the rabbit shows up. Another thing about the turtle, she has everything she needs with her. Aren’t we really more like a turtle at this stage in our lives as we move forward with all we need, including self-protection? It simply requires slower, smaller steps along the way.
I am learning this “turtle step” business. Before, I would add to my ever-expanding “to-do”list—write book, run 1/2 marathon, lose 20 pounds, and take vacation. Could I do any of these in one giant leap? Of course not. Plus each of them is overwhelming in magnitude and would stress me out. I either sat frozen in place or darted around like a crazy rabbit!
When I break the big stuff down to one small thing at a time, it feels inconsequential, but surprisingly it gets done. And that leads me to the next small step and then the next…and before you know it, I’m there.
So, wherever “there” is for you….start with a small step. And before you know it, you’ll arrive at your destination.
Hi I’m Nancy Burns and I thought I would tell you how Hourglass Workshops came about. I received a beautiful hourglass on my 21st birthday from my best friend and have loved it ever since, it reminds me of her every time I look at it. One day while gazing at it I was remembering our single years, all the fun we had, and how carefree life was for us. As I looked at it and contemplated what had come since that time; moves away from each other, marriages, children, loss of parents, my divorce, her cancer, beginning my business as she retired, it became apparent the hourglass is like our lives. Life is slipping through our fingers like the sand in the hourglass and there is a time when we stand alone facing life’s challenges and ask “What’s next”?
The Hourglass is the symbol I chose to represent the message of my workshops. It can be looked at as the eternal representation of the feminine image. In a more concrete way it is the visual of the passage of time and how it slips away while we are watching. I view it as a beginning or the first half, a middle, and a second half. It’s the middle, your middle years, that we are working with in the workshops.
Our journey is not unlike the grain of sand traveling through the hourglass. We begin our life with all the possibilities before us and no responsibilities. The sand begins its journey unencumbered with plenty of space and nothing but time. As we get older life becomes more complicated, more responsibilities as we are pushed and pulled by life. The sand begins its descent toward its finial destination and the space becomes more crowded, and the individual grain of sand is influenced by those around it, like us. The closer it gets to the center the greater the pressure until it is squeezed into a position of standing on its own.
Alone it makes the passage, just like our own journey through midlife. This can be a time when we feel overwhelmed, confused, and possibly very much alone, maybe for the very first time.
Pressures in our lives become greater and we are challenged by a major change or even a crisis; job loss, new career, empty nest, retirement, divorce, menopause, or death of those close to us. This is the time we question everything that has come before and wonder what is next? As the sand drops into the “second half” once again life is expanded and all the new possibilities exist again, just as life offers us a new way of being. How you define your next stage of our journey is up to you. Remember you are not alone.