Law #11 Creating a sense of urgency
“What ideas or goals do you have that you keep putting off?” That is the overriding question that haunts you throughout the 12th chapter of T.J. Hoisington’s “If You Think You Can”. This short chapter is packed with warnings about how to use your time effectively, and between the warnings are clues to what causes us to not do so. Let’s examine some of the major excuses we have for not taking action we would like to take. The stuff we use to create stories about possible failure, instead of adventure.
Fear: We all have different expressions for fear. We tell ourselves we can’t do it, it’s too hard, people will ridicule us, etc… Most of the time, if not always, these stories aren’t based on our own experiences. In fact, we are simply afraid of the unknown. Ask yourself, and honestly answer yourself, what’s the worst that could happen in this action? What could possibly happen that is so terrible if I only take the first step, then one step at a time towards the end-goal? Taking that first step is usually the hardest and we have a great many superb techniques to use in postponing it.
Procrastination: I see this as different from excuses, even though some people use excuses to procrastinate, the main focus of procrastination is to delay meaningful action, while still telling ourselves we are acting. I’m not immune to this, in fact the one I enjoyed using the most was over-planning. Assuring myself that gathering all the details, getting all my ducks in a row, organizing lists and charts, making sure I had all the pieces in place first, before building something, and many more examples. In university I had fantasized about writing the grate Canadian novel. So I set out to to read as many of the so called Great American novels as I possibly could, always taking notes and borrowing ideas that I liked the most, writing down descriptions of the characters, the scenery, and the events around the characters. I even wrote the opening scene and the end. I was fairly sure I could emulate Steinbeck, but with a Canadian flavour. Then I decided to read a few books on style, literature marketing, and how to write to your audience, just to make sure I could. By the time I read through all this, I was overthinking every word the characters said and the whole passion for the story dissipated. I didn’t have any deadline, so I shelved the book to restart when I had a moment to spare.
Deadlines & Accountability: I may have used over-planning to distract myself from the real work of simply being creative, but the fact that I had no deadline for completing it and no one to be accountable to gave me the freedom to loose any sense of this being important to do. Unconsciously, I started a process of undervaluing my writing skills that persisted for years to follow. I allowed myself to loose focus on the dream. T.J. teaches us that being clear about the goal is what motivates us prioritize it and get it done. Try to remember how you felt when you first got the idea. For me, it was excitement and a belief that I was actually about to write a great novel. I could hear the accolades, imagine the perks of celebrity, and even imagined the movie based on my story. I was exhilarated! I wanted to live in that feeling forever.
Complacency & Circumstances: What happened next lead to years of regret, which I think I’m over now, by the way… Thank you for asking! School work needed to get done. I needed to work longer hours to pay for school. I couldn’t write on the bus (there was no such thing as a laptop then, my friends). I got a girlfriend, etc… All these distractions filled my mind and time. I was confident that the story would be great and I’d remember it as clearly as the many books I read every week. Then the girlfriend broke my heart, lost my job, school got harder and less interesting, and, and, and… well, the circumstances weren’t ideal, so I told myself as an excuse. I accepted that it wasn’t important and I got ok with not doing it. This complacency lead into other parts of my life and a grouping of crummy habits were formed that I’ve taken years to break and replace.
What’s the moral of this story, boys & girls? When an exciting idea climbs into your head & heart, LISTEN TO IT! Act on it, and embrace that feeling of terrifying bliss! Just Do It!
“Hell begins on that day when God grants us a clear vision of all we might have achieved, of all the gifts we wasted, of all that we might have done that we did not do.” by Gian Carlo Menotti
Wishing you all a tremendous week!