Swap ‘I’ll Start Tomorrow’ with ‘I Did That Yesterday’

Pretend with me for a minute.

It’s Dec. 31.  Your annual goals (Family, Social, Financial, Spiritual, Career, Intellectual and Physical) are written, printed and hanging on the refrigerator so you’ll see them every day.

Just having gone through the process of writing them has energized you.  2012 is going to be the year you start happening to life and life stops happening to you.  You’re on fire and ready to take on the world!  You’re ready to put 2012 in a choke hold and little does it know, you’ve been watching choke hold how-to DVDs.

It’s now Sunday, Jan. 1.  Last night was a late one.  You wake up at 10 a.m. “Shoot, it’s too late to make it to church service,” you say to yourself.  One of your Spiritual goals is to start going to worship service again. “Well, I’ll start next Sunday. No big deal.”

Strike one.

You pull yourself out of bed and stumble into the kitchen.  Your head is pounding from one too many glasses of champagne.  Okay, maybe three.  After church today, you planned to go for a run.  “I just can’t do it.  I feel terrible.”

One of your Physical goals is to run an April half marathon, requiring you to start training immediately. “I’ll start tomorrow.  No big deal.” Strike two.

You then pick up your phone.  “Look forward to brunch today!  Gonna be great to see you again!” you read on the screen.  “Oh, no!”  You planned to go to brunch with friends from church today.  You feel weird about going now since you’re skipping church.  You start tapping out a reply.  “I’m so sorry.  Something came up, and I can’t make it.  Next Sunday perhaps.”

One of your Social goals was to spend more time with particular friends you rarely see.  Strike three.  And, by the way, you lied.

So now that you’re not going to church, training for a half marathon, spending quality time with friends and your head hurts too much to start that book on getting out debt (Financial/Intellectual goal), which will ultimately allow you the financial freedom to leave your job (Career goal), which you hate, your choke hold on 2012 has become a pinch a butterfly could escape from.

You’re now standing in front of the refrigerator, staring at the list of goals.  “Ah ha!  I can call my parents!”  (Family goal)  All is not lost, you think.

You peck out their number and place the phone to your ear.  It begins to ring.  It rings again.  And again.  And again.  And then someone picks up.  Score!  “Hi.  We can’t come to the phone right now but leave a message and…”  You hang up.

Strike six. You’re out.

Setting goals is a must for activating your purpose or just achieving more.  But if you’ve never goal set before, you’ve probably lived for years with flat spots all around your wheel of life.  It’s going to take time to shed habits and introduce new behaviors.  You must not get discouraged though.

Living intentionally isn’t always easy, especially in the beginning.  It takes looking long-term, planning and at times, forcing yourself to go for that training run.  But, as someone who is doing it, I promise it gets easier the longer you do it.

When you start crossing off goals and realizing the fruits of your labor, you’re going to want to accomplish more and more quickly.  There’s something powerful about documenting it all.  This is when you really start happening to life and building momentum that you can ride for years to come.

When you reach this point, “I’ll start tomorrow” exits your vocabulary and gets replaced with “I did that yesterday.”

Question:  How do you overcome the “I’ll start tomorrow” trap?


8 thoughts on “Swap ‘I’ll Start Tomorrow’ with ‘I Did That Yesterday’

  1. I try to practice having a mindset of “Do It NOW!” – I don’t ALWAYS overcome procrastination just because I say or practice this – but when that “evil” thought of “I can do it tomorrow” slips in – I say it over and over “Do it now, do it now”…and believe it or not – it does help!

    I will have to remember what you said – do it now – so I can say “I did that yesterday!”

  2. In my case, the only way i get to start on something, is if i know what’s in it for me. Let me explain. It doesn’t matter how big or small the goal is, there has to be a reason for commiting to it and it has to be very specific. I do this when i’m writing goals down (takes a while, but makes for very efficient goals). Once i have a reason for it (the why), it makes it so much easier to get started and stick with it for the long haul. For example the exercise goal mentioned by Luke, if was to have that as a goal, the why has to be very specific like, “need to fit into my pre-baby jeans by …” or somethinng specific like that. Once i have that, then i’m able to get started and stick with it.

  3. One of the sayings we learned in some LEAN training here at work: “If not me, who? If not now, when?” Works pretty good at home also. Thanks Joel for the insightful post.

  4. I’ve been talking about exercising again for months but one thing after another kept me from seeing it through (colds, lack of sleep, etc).

    Last week I ran a couple miles for the first time in I don’t know how long. The trick wasn’t to say “I’ll do this tomorrow” but instead, I’ll do this RIGHT NOW. Not everything works that way, but if you can create a moment where there are no excuses left and all you’re left with is the potential for victory… go for the victory. I felt better than I expected after that run and I’m actually looking forward to running some more (once this rain lets up… 😉

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