“Don’t put off until tomorrow, what you can do today”
~ Benjamin Franklin (supposedly, who knows)
How many of us, as kids, had this ringing in our ears from Mum or Dad every time we trudged up the stairs in a strop because we didn’t want to do our homework/brush our teeth/tidy our bedroom. If you’re a parent now, have you found yourself repeating it to your kids? (Yyyeeaaahh, ‘fess up you so have.)
The thing is, if you think about it, it’s a darn good piece of advice, so what’s the problem? Well, as good advice as it may be, we’re just as darn good at not taking it.
Why is this?
One reason is that most of the time, it involves a task that is either tedious/boring/dull and we just don’t feel like doing it. Swap doing homework/brushing our teeth/tidying our bedroom to sorting out our taxes/doing the housework/paying the bills and you’ll see that some things don’t really change no matter what age we are. As adults, we know we have to do it eventually, unless we want to live in clouds of dust or have our leccy cut off, but chances are we’ll leave it to the last nanosecond before we do. This is understandable, we don’t like doing it, it’s uncomfortable, and so we put it off, plain and simple.
But what about the stuff that we do actually want to do, but we put that off until tomorrow too. What’s THAT about?
Even when we want to do something, and really really really want to, we might still procrastinate because well, we think we’re not good enough, that we can’t, that we’ll fail etc. etc. etc. There’s a whole host of reasons we’ll invent to put it off until tomorrow, because even with the stuff we do want to do, there’ll still be a part of it that is uncomfortable.
“Stepping out of your comfort zone is where the magic happens”
(~no idea who originally said this, soz)
Let’s say, you’ve always wanted to join your local Am Dram group. You reckon you’d be ace playing Nancy in their production of Oliver. You imagine yourself doing it, you sing the songs that you know inside out and back to front, and you know you’d love the chance. You’ve thought about joining the group for YEARS. But the deadline for taking part is coming up soon and you still haven’t walked through the dusty village hall doors. You tell yourself: ‘Oh I’m too tired now, I’ll go next week’/’It’s too rainy out’/’I’ll miss ‘enders if I go now’. But the truth is, you’re just procrastinating like a good’un, because eeeek!, it’s uncomfortable. Or it’s that novel we’ve always wanted to write, or that song. Or that trip we’ve always wanted to go on, or that person we’ve wanted to get back in touch with. It could be any number of a million things that we put off, off, off because of discomfort.
And then we’ve missed our chance.
So why is it so uncomfortable, when we do actually want to do it? Well, if you want to play the part of Nancy it means you have to go and, gasp, meet new people and, double gasp, sing in front of them, and triple gasp, have them judge you to see if you’re good enough to join the group. Ggggaaaahhhh!! Nnnnnooooooo. If it’s the novel or song, no doubt you will tell yourself you’re not good enough. Or the trip? Too scary. An alarm goes off in our head: Avoid! Avoid! Avoid! Instead, let’s stay curled up on the sofa with a glass of vino and a box set instead, aaahhhhhhh, that sounds like way more fun.
So we don’t do it, and we convince ourselves that you know, we will, one day. But the truth is that we won’t, any day. Not unless we accept the undeniable, un-negotiable blatant truth:
We’re NEVER going to feel like it. Ever. Ever, ever, ever. Nnnneeevvveeerrrrr.
We’re never going to feel like ‘putting ourselves out there’. Putting ourselves in an uncomfortable situation, where we run the risk of failing? Nah, we’re not gonna feel like doing that, and we’ll always find a reason not to. But the secret is that by knowing this, we can stop waiting for that non-existent day where we think we will feel like it, and instead take a deep breath and go for it. And the good news? We will feel freakin’ awesome.
Because we get to do the one thing we’ve been dreaming about for ages. Finally. And even if we do fail, we’ll still feel amazing, because we gave it a shot – even if we don’t get the part of Nancy, we’ll high-five ourselves because we were brave, and we tried.
So here’s the thing. It’s never too late. Even if you’ve let ten, twenty, or thirty years go by without giving yourself a chance to at least have a go at doing that one thing you’ve always thought about, do it now. Do it today. Join the club/write the novel/sing the song at the open mic night/call that person.
Whatever it is. Do it.
You’ll never feel like it, but do it anyway because how you will feel afterwards, that feeling of accomplishment regardless of which way it goes, will be waiting for you in bucketloads.