We all put off things today and leave them for tomorrow…or the next day, week, month, year. What are you putting off? And why do you not take action immediately or as necessary?
This can be an important question to answer when it comes to your health, business, relationships, and just about anything in life–especially if you’d like to live fully and achieve your potential. In most cases, it’s better to take action today rather than tomorrow.
I wrote this post in a coffee shop while I waited for my car to be serviced. I scheduled the appointment the week before when the service light appeared on the car’s dashboard.
The night before, however, I considered cancelling the appointment even though I need to drive the car quite a bit that coming weekend. I had a lot of reasons to cancel:
- I didn’t want to get up at 6:30 a.m. because I’d been up late for three nights in a row.
- I had a short week (just four days) and needed to work all day to prepare to take time off.
- I felt stressed by several large and looming deadlines.
- I felt certain I could do the driving I needed, since the light meant the car was due for an oil change and tire rotation.
- I didn’t want to find out what else was wrong with my car (since I was having a problem with the gas gauge)—and pay the bill that I might incur to fix it.
I picked up the phone to cancel the service appointment. Then I put it down.
I knew there would never be a perfect and convenient time to take the car into the shop. And I didn’t feel comfortable driving the car until it was serviced.
So, there I was. And guess what? The dealership was kind enough to take me to the gym so I could get a workout bright and early. I accomplished a bit of work (this blog post) while waiting to be picked up by the dealership’s shuttle, and the car’s service was completed just two hours after I dropped it off…and it was nothing serious or expensive.
I could drive with the confidence that all was well under the car’s hood.
More often than not our fears stop us from taking action. We put off until tomorrow what we could do today—if we had the time, courage, money, energy, ability, or something else. We are afraid we don’t have what we need to act and get a desired result.
Sometimes taking care of business sooner rather than later opens up time and space for the other things we want or need in our life. We create opportunities. We avoid problems and unwanted circumstances, too.
What Have You Been Putting Off—and Why?
What have you been putting off? Is it…
- A difficult conversation with a friend?
- A bill you need to pay?
- Telling your spouse you want a divorce?
- Looking for a new job?
- Going to the doctor?
- Losing 20 pounds?
- Tackling a difficult project?
- Healing a relationship with someone?
Make a list of the top five things you have put off until later.
Now answer these four questions about each one:
- What are you waiting for? In other words, what has to happen for you to be able or willing to take action?
- Why are you waiting? What’s the excuse you offer for putting this off until later?
- What would happen if you took action—stopped waiting? Something bad? Something good? Be specific.
- How can you take action sooner rather than later? List three ways.
What did you realize from this exercise? When I answer these questions about anything I’m putting off, I discover I have no reason to wait, just excuses for not doing what I know I need to do.
Typically, the positive potential results far outweigh the potential negative results of taking action.
Why You Shouldn’t Wait
In some cases, waiting for the “right” conditions can prove beneficial. But more often than not, taking action immediately offers the better choice.
For instance, I’ve heard of stories of people who decided not to wait any longer to heal a relationship with a friend or parent. They met with the person and talked, and went away with a renewed connection. Within days or months, that person died.
If they had put that difficult conversation off, they would have regretted doing so forever.
I’ve also heard stories of people putting off an annual physical or medical test…for years. They finally decide to go to the doctor only to be told they have cancer. Had they come in earlier, the cancer would have been treatable. Or…in the reverse…because they came in when they did, it was curable—but it wouldn’t have been if they’d waited a month or two longer.
Putting off anything has consequences. You might decide to wait until your kids are grown to write and publish a book or send your book proposal off to a literary agent. Then you go to the bookstore and discover that someone else has written an almost identical book. That could have been your book on the shelf if you immediately had done what you said you wanted to do.
Or you wait a week to apply for a job opening in your company. By the time you submit your application, someone else already has been chosen to fill the position.
Stop putting things off. Act as if today is tomorrow, and take action now.
Tell me about your experiences of putting things off until tomorrow…and taking action instead.
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Don’t wait! It’s your time…now…to level up so you can achieve your potential, fulfill your purpose and live your life fully.
Photos copyright: Unsplash / Pixabay