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You probably know the habit I’m talking about. Our way of putting things off, waiting until we’re in a better mood or have more confidence. Or whatever our reason for not getting on with the things that matter most.

The older I get the more I realize without a doubt that procrastination is my most costly fault. You may have a habit you consider to be more troublesome, but whatever yours is I’ll bet procrastination is the source of your problem, too. Consider these examples of the prices I’ve paid:

  • Brilliant ideas I didn’t follow through on
  • Situations I ignored, the avoidance of which cost relationships, business, and so on
  • Not starting the book I know will make a difference to so many
  • Not getting serious about meditation until later in life
  • Postponing getting fit until it affected my health ~ and even then not making a move
  • Not making more time for family and friends because I’m so terribly busy
But on the other hand if you know much about me, you know I’ve accomplished a lot in my life ~ more than I ever thought possible when I was wallowing in my 20’s. And I’ve learned a great deal, which I’ll share here shortly.

But first I invite you to take a moment to consider what the procrastination habit has cost you.

Health? Loving relationships? Stress? Sleepless nights? Estrangements? Broken promises? Money problems? Poor business results? Learning the same lessons over and over again?

Perhaps you, like me, know for sure you have more to give, but just can’t seem to get moving. I sometimes watch myself wandering around doing meaningless tasks, when the night before I promised that I’d start today with exercise, meditation, and writing. Ha!
We’re not alone

I recently read Helen Mirren’s Tulane University Commencement Address in which she shares Helen’s Top 5 Rules for a Happy Life. Rule No. 5 is Don’t Complicate Things, the one where she told us what she really thinks ~ here’s a sample.

  • Don’t procrastinate.
  • Do say thank you when it is merited.
  • Don’t procrastinate… especially in saying thank you when it is merited.
  • Don’t lose your sense of humor.
  • Don’t procrastinate.
  • Do open your heart to love.
  • And one more thing — don’t procrastinate.

She’s an Oscar and Globe Winner, beautiful and sexy at 70, with a wicked sense of humor ~ and that’s just the beginning. If her most important rule for a happy life is Don’t Procrastinate, it’s worth considering.

Arianna Huffington has also talked openly about how putting off getting enough sleep led to a serious injury and a wake up call about taking better care of herself.

How to break our most costly habit

Everything worthwhile I’ve done has been sourced from the Do the Tough Stuff First rule. In the past when I looked at my To Do list, it was a jumble of simple tasks and my most significant projects. What did I do first? You know the answer. I was a master at moving what I most wanted to accomplish from one day to the next. Oh, well. .

We live our days as if we’ll be here forever.

Here’s the profoundly effective method that leads not only to satisfaction, but an experience of pure joy.

  1. Determine the Top 3 things I want to do today. I avoid putting meditate or exercise among these because I can finally be trusted on these. I choose my 3 priorities carefully as those that will bring the greatest return on investment and are a bite-sized chunk I know I can get done today.
  2. Let the Urgent tasks wait until I’ve completed my Top 3. This is the heart of the matter because these actions are so enticing and gratifying. When I get lost in this jungle, my energy and time for the big stuff disappears.

That’s it, friend. The simplicity of this path ensures that I don’t waste my days . . . and my life. Remember the words of best-selling author Gretchen Rubin:

The days are long, but the years are short.

Please give this approach a try ~ you have so much to contribute the rest of us.

I’d enjoy hearing from you ~ a question, comment, or sharing your own experience of breaking this habit. Scroll down to share your question or make a comment — or write to me directly at jinny@bestyearyet.com.

 

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