At the time of writing this article, in a few days (two days to be exact), I will be attending the funeral service for one of my students.
But, ‘What does this have to do with me?’ Is a question you may be thinking, seeing that you clicked on this article hoping to find a solution for yourself or someone you know who is struggling with procrastination.
You will see, when you read the following story. So, put away all forms of distractions right now. Ready? Let’s go.
Approximately five weeks ago, one of the teachers who I supervise, informed me that a student from her class was sick and in the hospital.
With all good intentions, I planned to visit her. Days passed and I felt an internal nudge (sixth sense, maybe) reminding me that I needed to go to the hospital.
I made the decision to visit her on a particular day but something else grabbed my attention and I was not able to go.
So, I decided to arrange another day to look for her.
A Saturday would have been suitable for me because during the week was just too stressful.
When the day arrived, I wasn’t feeling well so i decided to push forward the visit to another time.
While I was getting ready for Church the next day, I observed several missed calls from the home room teacher of the student.
As soon as I was about to ring her back, I realized she was calling me again.
I answered the cell phone.
Between sobs, I heard her say, “Shanalee died this morning.”
I was shocked.
“You are lying,” I interjected.
She continued to explain to me the cause of death, and mentioned that the doctors could not save her life seeing that the cancer was in the advanced stage.
When she hung up the phone, a sense of guilt overwhelmed me.
‘How could she die,’ ‘But, I was going to look for her,’ ‘What would people think of me when I tell them, I did not visit her,’ were some of the thoughts that bombarded my mind.
For the rest of the day, my spirit was depressed.
The following day, I had to face the students, who I knew by now would have heard the tragic news.
On my way to the classroom, I heard the loud cries of the students. ‘Oh God, give me the strength to deal with this,’ I silently prayed.
Like me, many of the students, did not expect her to die so soon. Like me, many of them expressed regret for not visiting her. Like me, many of them wished they could ‘turn back the hands of time’ for one more opportunity to say all those lovely things we had the chance to say when she was alive.
But, death does not send warnings in many cases.
Like me, you probably have as story to share. Like me,you may also be living with the painful consequences and setbacks of procrastination.
The truth of the matter is, many people struggle with this problem. It doesn’t matter your colour, creed, social status, political persuasion, gender, etc., all of us have been ‘stung’ by its influence and continue to battle with this problem daily.
The good thing is, you can overcome procrastination and begin to live a more successful and rewarding life.
Below are a few tips to help you get started:
Take Action Now: Whenever you have the opportunity to take action, do not delay. What have you been putting off doing? Is it spending more time with friends and family, going back to school, finishing an assignment, paying your bills on time, exercising, losing weight or starting a business? You are where you are at this time in life based on the sum total of the decisions you have made. And the value you place on reaching these goals or desires will determine the effort you make in taking action now’ and sticking with it when motivation is at its lowest.
Push Yourself: The day when I decided to visit the student, I could have pushed myself to go in spite of how I was feeling physically. In retrospect, my discomfort was not severe. But, I deceived myself into believing that it was so. What ‘discomfort’ are you giving in to? If you set your alarm to wake you up at 5 a.m. to begin your exercise regiment, push yourself against the desire to snuggle in the bed for another five minutes. Or, do you put off assignments until the last possible hour because you have deceived yourself into believing that you are the type of person who works best under pressure? Push yourself to begin the assignment earlier. This will reduce the stress and anxiety that comes with waiting until the last minute to complete the task.
Take Responsibility: Blaming others for where you are in life is the easiest scapegoat- at least it takes the pressure of ourselves right? False. My students are good at doing this. ‘I’m late because of the bus,’ I could not print my assignment because the ink is finished in the printer, ‘I didn’t do well on the test because my house is too noisy and I can’t study,’ are just a few excuses made by my students when they want to escape the sanctions.
Who or what have you been blaming for not reaching your goals: your mother, father, spouse, government? It is true that external influences can propel us closer to success; however, I always tell my students that when obstacles present themselves you have to think of solutions to overcome those challenges.
Many times we give too much power to outside forces, not remembering the famous adage by Marianne Williamson which says, ‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?’
Successful people will continue to win the war against procrastination because they have developed certain traits over time. People are not ‘born procrastinators’, it is a habit developed one step at a time, and that is how you can develop good habits to beat procrastination- one step at a time.
The choice is always yours to make. So what will it be? I challenge you to make the commitment to take action now, push yourself, and take responsibility for your decisions.
Refuse to bow under the pressure of procrastination. It’s never too late to start and the best time is NOW!