As I sifted through the piles of papers and notes I had collected over the years, each item brought up a different emotion. I got that lump in my throat and that heaviness in my heart – to say I was overcome with nostalgia would be an understatement.
As I got deeper into the clutter, I uncovered a collection of poems and letters I had written in my late teens. Curious to visit my thoughts from that time, I reached in, pulled one out – it was the first sheet of paper that came into my hand – and started to read.
As I read the note, which I had titled “my dream,” my eyes filled up with tears. Then the tears dropped onto the words and blurred them, but I couldn’t stop reading.
There it was, my old dream of how I wanted my life to be. I was such a dreamer then! I would replay my ideal future over and over in my mind. I saw myself in my crystal clear vision as an elegant, self-possessed entrepreneurial woman. I even saw the colors of my clothes and the details of my office.
My old dream came rushing back, but it came with mixed feelings.
You see I had a completely different life when I wrote that note to myself. Destructive relationships… running up debts…. all the wrong things. I was convinced that life was unfair and I just had to accept the cards I had been dealt. To make a long story short, I wanted to get away and have another life. I partied a lot, pretended to have “fun,” escaped reality any way I could.
I never felt like a procrastinator before, but it hit me in that moment – I definitely was
Then my life took a 180 degree turn with a new job. Suddenly I was immersed in the world of personal development. My job involved bringing famous motivational speakers to the country and working on projects geared towards making people’s dreams come true. Oh my gosh, it was heaven on earth for me! I had to study everything about personal growth and learn all the tools you needed to change your life.
I was so excited and I felt so liberated. I started noticing I could take different actions, that I could create, that I had power. I was like a child in a candy store; every new awareness, every new tool was like finding a buried treasure and it happened over and over again, just about every day.
I have to admit, I became a personal development junkie – it absorbed all my energy. I studied, experienced, attended seminars, did whatever I could. There was a lot of “fixing” I felt I needed. Of course, change didn’t happen that quickly, but it sure felt great trying to make it happen.
Then I read that letter. Staring at the tear-drenched paper, I felt like I had been hit by a truck. The dream I’d had was to own my own business. It was always in the back of my mind, but I kept putting it off – I must have come up with 20,000 reasons why it wasn’t the right time, why I needed to wait longer.
I kept re-reading the words I had read so many times before. Tears changed to desperation and a thousand thoughts bombarded my mind. I desperately tried to understand where all the time had gone. Had I been too busy with all my learning and seminars to see what was really going on?
I never felt like a procrastinator before, but it hit me in that moment – I definitely was.
I gently folded the old piece of paper and put it back in the box. I didn’t know what to do with it, or with the thoughts I was having. I was overwhelmed with regret as I realized that procrastination had almost hijacked my dream.
How could I have been so blind? Of course, you cannot connect the dots in the moment, but now the connection is as clear as daylight. Cleaning out my cupboard that day was the start of another 180 in my life.
That day was not only the impetus for me to take action to finally start my own business, but it was the beginning of a new understanding that would change my life in more ways than I had imagined.
You see, I was so shocked by the realization of my close to disappearing dream that I set out to understand WHY it had happened. Of course, my own procrastination initially felt like a huge slap in the face.
But the more I tried to understand and delve into this so-called negative thing we call “procrastination,” the more I started to feel differently.
Often we attract the exact challenges we need in order to get to the next stage in our lives. I noticed that my pattern was to procrastinate at just those specific times when I most needed to look inward and take stock of myself.
So instead of beating myself up, I made a point of actually thanking the part of me that was the “procrastinator” for telling me that some new awareness was just below the surface./
I actually get excited now when I realise I am procrastinating. I am just so curious to find out what’s going on inside me and eager to discover what I need to move forward. It has become a game I play, monitoring why I am procrastinating.
Just recently, I was really thrilled and elated when someone invited me to attend a high profile networking event. I knew I had nothing on for that evening, yet I found myself saying “I’ll have to get back to you… I need to double check my schedule.”
Then two days passed and I received an email asking me to confirm my attendance. All I needed to do was type in the word “confirmed” and hit the send button. Instead, I put it off once again, found other things to do. I noticed I was neglecting doing something I knew was important to me.
I had caught myself in the act! But this time, I was able to pause, take a deep breath, and ever so gently ask myself, “What are you so scared of?”
And when I asked myself that, a voice inside me answered: “People will know you’re a ‘newbie’…they’ll say you’re ‘just a kid’… you’ll stand out… you’re a foreigner… etc., etc., etc.¨
So there it was, out in the open, a list of all the thoughts that were limiting me. I can’t say I didn’t know I had those thoughts, but I never had them spelled out so clearly. I chuckled to myself and thanked my new “friend.” It was truly a revelation.
I now think of procrastination as my personal internal compass –– one of my most powerful tools for success. The moment I know I am procrastinating, I jump at the chance to dig in until I discover an important new insight. Now, when my “procrastinator calls, I just roll my eyes, let out a bit of a giggle and find myself saying ‘oh boy, here we go again! What is it this time?’