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Lessons learned: Change your focus from someday to today

January 21/28, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 17

By Tom Jennings

Do you ever notice how many people seem to have big plans, yet have very small accomplishments? You know the type. They are the ones who can always tell you everything that’s wrong but are doing very little constructive to make positive changes.

At work, they usually spend more time determining how to get around performing a task than completing the task itself. These folks all seem to live in a different time zone. I refer to it as “Someday.”

We’ve all known residents of Someday. Perhaps we’ve even visited that place ourselves at some point. You will have no problem recognizing Someday inhabitants. They identify themselves constantly by stating something along these lines: Someday I’ll have a nicer car. Someday I’ll start to eat better. Someday I’ll spend more time with the family.

Residents of Someday all seem to have great plans. However, the critical element missing is execution, sometimes known by that dreaded term: hard work. While planning may be fun, and even occasionally necessary, over time I have discovered a funny thing about plans—they only seem to work when I do.

Don’t get me wrong; intentions do not count. Virtually all decent people are filled with good intentions. There is nothing rare about that. However, nobody ever accomplished anything meaningful by “intending” to do so. Results are only accomplished when we put some fuel into our tanks, turn on the engine and begin the journey from someday into “now.”

Only then will we see our results change from the limited success that “talkers” realize to the unlimited success that many “doers” achieve. The reality is we all have to put forth the effort to make a showing at our jobs every day. Since we are going to put in the time anyway, it seems to make sense that we reward ourselves by actually achieving measurable results rather than just talking a good game. Not only is the paycheck more pleasing, but you will find that time actually goes by at a much faster pace when you are able to begin measuring your accomplishments rather than just thinking about all of the things that you want to do someday.

Thankfully, there’s no shortage of helpful advice on the issue. In an article that appeared in Forbes magazine, Vanessa Loder, co-founder of Mindfulness Based Achievement, outlined scientifically proven tips for beating procrastination. Among the most effective strategies:

  1. Pick your poison. The key is focus. We often give ourselves too many things to do and become overwhelmed. Start by choosing just one thing you’ve been putting off and make a commitment to complete that task in the next week.
  2. Employ the “five-minute miracle.” This involves asking yourself what action you can take in less than five minutes today that moves this forward even the tiniest bit. Once you’ve identified a small action, set a timer for five minutes and work on the task.
  3. Do a power hour. This consists of putting away all distractions and working in concentrated chunks of time, followed by short periods of rest, in order to harness the optimal performance of your brain and body.
  4. Let it go. Research shows the more you can forgive yourself for past procrastination, the more likely you are to overcome your current procrastination and take action.