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  • Writer's pictureSheila

Where dreams go to die...


At first glance, I thought that this was a bit dramatic, but on second thought, I realized that this is quite true. At least it is for me.

I can think of many times when I had a great idea, an exciting thought or a plan to make a change. And then followed that with “I will get started on that tomorrow”, only to find that, to use another quote, “tomorrow never comes”.

There are so many references to this debilitating ability to put things off until some perceived crisis or momentous event kicks us into action.

In his book “When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing”, Dan Pink references the odd fact that statistics show that the number of people at the end of a life decade (29, 39, 49, 59, etc.) who register for a significant athletic event such as a marathon or triathlon, far outstrips the number of people of every other age in that decade. They have been thinking about doing it (tomorrow) for some time, but they see a looming change – “I’m about to turn 30/40/50/60, so I should do this now, and stop putting it off”.

Guilty! And then embarrassed by the predictability of my behaviour.

For people trying to accomplish a big goal (or small goals for that matter), the notion of starting tomorrow is common, and can be problematic to the point where it becomes a topic for which people seek help.

This comes up often in my coaching practice, and people have offered the following reasons. I am sure there are many others, but this is a sample of what I have heard:

It is going to be hard to do, and tomorrow I will be more prepared. But will you??

I might fail, so delaying pushes that out a bit. But the sooner you fail (IF, in fact you are actually going to), the sooner you can learn from the failure, push forward and succeed!

I am waiting until I am more inspired. And yet, it seems that when we do something and start moving forward and having small successes, we BECOME inspired. We become motivated by even small successes.

I know that I can start tomorrow and get the same results, so today I am going to focus on other things. If tomorrow never comes, then neither do the results, and my bet is that this is a loop that could play daily for a long time.

Hmmm. That can be a toughie. In order for change to take place there has to be an impetus for that change. The greater the difference between where you are now, and where you want to be, the more inclined you might be to make a change. But if where you want to be is where you are now, then it will be hard to move.

Perhaps you are very change averse and the known feels safe and comfortable. Would this be a good time to stretch a little?

Perhaps your cost/benefit analysis is weighing heavily on the cost side and less so on the benefit side. In other words, what you are going to get out of this effort feels as though it won’t be worth the effort you will have to put in to achieve the result. Are you sure you are measuring the right things? Or looking at the effort in the right way? There have been whole books wr

itten on ways to make change happen by taking small bites. (Atomic Habits, by James Clear, or The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg come to mind.)

Or, maybe you are right! The status quo makes sense and you need to educate someone else as to why.

In all these cases, there is an opportunity to ask some questions of yourself and to be honest with your answers. An opportunity to look for assumptions you might be making, and to test those assumptions. Here are some questions you could ask yourself...

  • What assumptions am I making?

  • What is the actual chance that I will fail?

  • What is at stake if I do? And does that matter – or is it more about my ego?

  • What are the consequences of NOT doing something now. Today?

  • Will I really do it tomorrow? And what happens if I don’t?

  • What could happen if I did it now?

What are YOU putting off until tomorrow? Really think about what reasons you have for delaying, and remember the proverb:

The best time to plant an oak tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.”

What are you waiting for?

Don’t be Scarlet O’Hara, from Gone with the Wind, ….“I will think about that tomorrow”.


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