Do you know the biggest cause of procrastination?
It’s fear – fear of the unknown, what might happen in the future or some day or never, but nonetheless, millions of people put off what they can and should do today hoping that the task will get done or the situation they fear will just “disappear” on its own or some opportunity will still be there in the future when you are ready. Sorry folks – ain’t going to happen.
Those of you old enough to remember the old TV show Cochise might recall a line that has stuck with me for years. Goes something like this;
Cochise’s braves were surrounded by the cavalry and were outnumbered 10 to 1. One of the braves came to the chief and said, “What are we going to do? We are all going to die. We are surrounded.” His response, “We are going to attack.” “Attack, the brave screamed, we will be slaughtered. Are you crazy?” Cochise’s answer – “It’s better to take a dangerous chance than to wait safely for something worse.” I love that response cause it’ so true.
Ever waited for something difficult to just go away on its own and while you waited it just got worse? Or, have you ever hoped some dream on your bucket list would come true in the future? I know I have. So what’s the answer?
Why do people put things off and I’m not talking here about cleaning the kitchen or washing the car. I’m referring to relationship, career, personal, business or financial issues that plague many people’s every minute with worry, stress or anxiety wondering if they will ever be realized. Again, the major cause is fear – fear of something – losing control, an unfavorable outcome or the need to find the courage to just dig in and deal with it.
If you think procrastination is just a short term challenge, how about those folks who put off – a trip of a lifetime that they have dreamed about for years – until the kids have grown and left home and then one of the partner’s dies before they can actually go. How about that dream to own your own business and finally you find the courage to begin, but are suddenly confronted with health or financial circumstances that now stands in the way.
Or how about planning that special family celebration for your parent’s 50th anniversary when they suddenly are both diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. I could go on with dozens of illustrations, but the common denominator is always the same – let’s wait until the time is right or circumstances are better or even perfect.
No one has a guaranteed future and that includes tomorrow, so if this is true, why do so many people wait to embrace many of life’s opportunities from; taking dancing lessons to asking your love to marry you. From starting a new hobby to _________ (you can fill in the blank) or avoiding one of life’s many challenges.
Is it guilt? Obligation? Regret? Fear? Resentment? Or one of many other and often justified emotional reasons? I’ll bet if you have put something off in your life waiting for the best possible circumstances but with the passage of time you will one day look back with sadness wondering – why did I wait?
So, let me back up to the title – If not now – when?
“You cannot run away from a weakness; you must sometimes fight it out or perish. And if that be so, why not now, and where you stand?
Robert Louis Stevenson