Personal Growth

How To Overcome Procrastination

By Charles Steed

Boy, if we could only put good intentions in the bank! We’d all be millionaires. How many times have you had a great idea, an idea you knew was a winner? You think about it for days, weeks, maybe months, developing the many possibilities in your mind. But you never actually get down to the nitty gritty of taking action on it. Why is that?

I’ve discovered the key to taking action on your ideas and it isn’t another motivational seminar or CD set. It’s not that I’m against encouragement and support from as many outside sources as possible. I’ve been a student of self help materials for years. But if you take to heart what I’m about to share and really run with it, you will be your own support seminar. You’ll wake up every day and jump out of bed raring to spend another day working toward your dream. People will look at you and say, I want what he has! So here it is: The key to getting over the procrastination hurdle is to have a purpose. Yep. It’s that simple. 

Tried Dozens Of Business Programs

Before I figured this out I often looked at hot ways to make money. I attended dozens of network marketing presentations spellbound by the presenter telling me about all the money I could make. I tried marketing prepaid phone cards, household products, nutritional products, educational programs, success mentoring programs, you name it, I tried it. And here’s something I felt on an unconscious level but always had trouble admitting to myself: deep down inside, I knew I wasn’t cut out for that type of business. Can you relate to this?

It wasn’t until I discovered my true passion that I was able to put procrastination behind me. See, if you’re doing something that you don’t have passion for, something that isn’t a piece to the puzzle that makes up your purpose, chances are, there will always be something you’d rather be doing – a better deal – a new horizon - Seinfeld reruns, something. But when you’re on purpose, wild horses won’t be able to pull you from your goal. 

I believe that everyone on this earth has a purpose. And if that’s true, it means you possess a talent or skill that, once developed, will bring you more happiness and prosperity than you can imagine. So how do you go about discovering what your true talent is? That too, is pretty simple. Consider this question: If money weren’t an issue, what would you be happy spending your days doing?

Now, I realize that I’ve opened the door for smirks and giggles. If the first thing that came to mind was, eating pizza, or watching Gilligan’s Island reruns all day, you’re going to have to go back inside and really get serious. See, I believe that to beat the procrastination troll and earn a good living at the same time, you’ve got to serve people in some way. And the more people you’re able to serve, the happier you’ll be, and the more money you’ll make.

Lots of folks have told me that they actually know what they would like to do but life’s circumstances won’t allow it. They’re tied to particular duties and obligations they feel keep them in chains. And the answer to that is, there is always a way to make things work. You’ve just got to find it. Look at it this way. Life is full of choices. If you’ve decided that you’re bound to a particular fate and don’t have other options, doesn’t that mean you’ve accepted a certain degree of mediocrity or even failure? Doesn’t it mean that you have no control over your own destiny?

An Unlikely Lesson

When I was much younger I had a friend who had very little. He was one of five children. His family lived in a run-down apartment. Then something changed. These folks bought a nice car and about a year or so after getting the car, they bought their own house and moved to a better neighborhood. I didn’t think much about it at the time. A half dozen years later I dated Alice, one of the kids from this family. I got to know her family quite well. On one occasion, while waiting for Alice to get ready to go out, I talked to her dad, Leo. He told me a story I’ll never forget.

He told me that his passion had always been painting pictures but in years gone by he didn’t know how to make it pay. As a young man he married and soon took a job as a grocery clerk. In time he became a dad. And within a few years he was struggling to make ends meet as his family continued to grow. Feeling that he wasn’t a good provider he began to drink a bit more than he should have. He was depressed and upset that his wife had to go to work just to be able to keep food on the table. He even mentioned that there were times during those days when he thought of taking his own life.

One day he woke up with a hangover and decided he’d had enough. The kids had already left for school and his wife was leaving for her job. Once he was alone he sat and contemplated his situation. Not being a religious man he simply sat alone and asked for an answer to his problems. He told me he sat for 10 or 15 minutes before getting cleaned up and leaving for his job at the grocery store.

When he arrived at the store the manager was in obvious distress. The store was to be running a big sale on produce and meat over the coming days and his “sign man” was not available. This was back in the late 1960s when small grocery stores often had inexpensive throw-away signs hand painted big red lettering on large sheets of butcher paper and displayed in their windows. Leo seized the moment. He told the manager that he could paint the signs. The manager was doubtful but Leo explained that he had experience as a graphic artist and that such work was actually easy for him. They struck a deal on the spot. The manager would put up the money for supplies and Leo would provide the signs for the sale and receive a small payment for his service.

Well, that was the beginning of the end of mediocrity for Leo. In time, he became the exclusive sign man for his employer as well as many businesses in town. He did sign and graphics work out of his home until his business was so large that he needed a shop outside his home. Though it was a struggle at first working both as a grocery clerk and a sign painter in the evening, he was determined to be a success. Within a year he was earning five times more than he’d ever made as a clerk at the store. And, for the first time in many years he was happy.

But that’s not the end of the story. With the new freedom allowed him by his sign business Leo began to paint pictures, very nice pictures. He painted watercolor and oil paintings that were absolutely beautiful. He created a series of very distinctive signature paintings that became quite well known in the region and sometimes sold for a thousand dollars or more. Oh, and once he found his purpose, he rarely overindulged in alcohol.

On that evening while I was out with his daughter I mentioned the story her dad had related and asked why he might have taken the time to tell me something so personal. She laughed and told me that he thinks I’m ‘a bundle of wasted potential’ and that if I had any ideas of marriage to her, I should be thinking of how to make the most of my life. It occurred to me that I had been set up. But I’m glad because that story has served as one of the most important lessons I’ve ever received.

The End Of The Road

At one point in my working life I had the opportunity to assist many people who were facing their last days on earth. I was working as a healthcare provider at the time. I got into the habit of asking many of these folks this question: If you had it to do over, what would you do differently?

The most common answer by far was, I’d be a better… mother, father, spouse, etc. The number two answer was, I’d do more, I’d try more things, I’d live more. I’ll never forget the time I asked this question of a woman in her 90s. She clutched my wrist with both hands and looked me straight in the eyes and said, “I’d live more. I’d try more things. I wouldn’t be so damned afraid of everything.” And after telling me how much more she’d have enjoyed her life she said, “You know Charles, why hold back? We all end up here anyway…”  What she meant was, there comes a day when we all face the end of the road regardless of how much living we’ve done.

That little conversation added a great deal of perspective to my life and actually forced me to examine where I was and where I was heading.

So that’s it. Purpose. We all have one. Some of us are lucky enough to be blessed knowing our purpose early in life. Some of us have to try a lot of different things before we figure it out. And some of us give up way too easily and leave the earth still a “bundle of wasted potential.” How are you spending your precious time?


Charles Steed has been a student of human development for more than 20 years and has written extensively on the topic. To learn more about the law of attraction and other powerful self improvement techniques visit Prosperity Tribe.





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