If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. ~Henry David Thoreau
I bought a book of quotations, The Book of Positive Quotations 2nd Edition, compiled and arranged by John Cook, Edited by Steve Deger and Leslie Ann Gibson, and each day I peruse it for a quote that pings a nerve. Today it was the above from Henry David Thoreau.
Henry David Thoreau was, among many things, an American author who died over a hundred and fifty years ago. And yet his message is as profound today, as it was when he lived, in the early part of the 19th century. Profundity aside, it is also a profitable message, one used by many contemporary motivational speakers and life coaches. At its core is the message that success is a matter of faith and active pursuit of a desired goal, or lifestyle. In other words, don't just talk, but walk. Live as if. Or, to borrow from the Nike slogan urges: Do It. This applies to all avenues of interest, not just writing.
Many people speak of abundant ideas, and plans—to write a memoir, go back to school, file for divorce, clean the closet, lose ten pounds, shampoo the dog, mail the thank you notes, quit smoking, sign up for yoga—you name it, it will be penciled in on the agenda. One day. Henry David Thoreau, and his contemporaries Michael Neill, Jack Canfield, David Bach, Brian Tracy, Tony Robbins, and Oprah, among a great many others, would advise you today is that day. I repeat, Today IS That Day.
And yet, the agenda remains curiously blank. Why?
I do not profess to be an expert on matters of procrastination (though it is an art I've mastered in certain areas of my life) but for me, it boils down to two things: interest and belief.
If I am interested and I believe I possess the skills/knowledge/ability to tackle the interest, I plunge in head first. When I doubt my ability, skill, or knowledge—even if I am interested—I procrastinate or avoid. A similar lethargy overtakes me when faced with issues that, to me, are as thrilling as a root canal. What I have to remind myself is, insecurity—and apathy in some things—is normal. It is the bane, and reality, of the human condition (and some people capitalize on it, making money helping other people define their purpose, and live it). And that's the key.
Insecurity is surmountable. How? By fearing whatever it is and doing it anyway—within legal and moral constructs, of course.
One day, one step at a time; one phone call, one appointment, one book, one word, followed by the next logical step, and another, and another, and so on and so forth, moving forward until the dream is realized. BUT, before taking that first step, there is a first, first step, one essential in combating the second source of procrastination: apathy. That is, decide if the goal originates from personal desire, or an expectation borne of someone else's beliefs or wants.
I want to write novels. And I have. But the first novel would not have made it past the first five pages if I had tried to create 400 coherent and titillating pages of storyline to satisfy someone else's desire. And that's the key.
If you're berating yourself over something that's not getting done, ask yourself: is this something I truly want or is it an obligation I agreed to to please/appease someone else, or is it a task I think I should do because of A, B, or C? If it's of the latter, gently return whatever it is, to its owner (with an apology for usurping their dream/responsibility if that makes you feel better). But if the vision is yours, and you want it realized, go for it. Today. This minute.
Research what it takes to get where you want to go. Read biographies of people that made it. Help realize the fantasy by writing a pre-emptive memoir about your journey to success—and then make it happen.
Place that phone call. Go online and register for that course. Buy that book. Mail that note. Type that first word. To paraphrase Henry David Thoreau: advance confidently in the direction of your dream, endeavor to live the life which you imagine, and eventually, you will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.