Monday, January 16, 2012

Monday Motivation: "Yesterday you said tomorrow."

When I came across this picture the other day, it nearly stopped me in my tracks. The message is so powerful and so relevant to me that I felt it appropriate that I share with you on this blog. The number of times I promised myself that I would do something tomorrow is immeasurable. It seems like I'm a master of saying "no" today and saying "yes" tomorrow. Here's the problem with that.....there is no such thing as tomorrow.

Sure, tomorrow exists as a future point in time, but when we say, we'll do something starting tomorrow, we aren't really saying that a "future point in time" presents a more favorable condition for us to make things happen. What we're really saying "I'm not willing to do this now so I'll make myself feel better by telling myself that I'll do it in the "future." My brother and I were having a conversation once and he said something that I'll never forget. We were on this topic of procrastination when he shared that he "no longer trusted the future him." A little confused, I asked him to explain what he meant. "Future me", he explained "is the guy I trust to take action whenever I say that I'll do something tomorrow." "But the problem is that future me seems to always let me down." "So from now own, I can only trust me, at this moment, to do what I say I'll do."

That's when I realized that I too was entrusting the fate of my happiness to "future me." And just like his version, future me was also letting me down. Here's the worst part, secretly, I know that future me isn't going to do it either. Why? Because I'm pretty much the same person now and tomorrow. Twenty four hours is not going to make a difference in my ability. If I'm not willing to take even the smallest step forward towards creating what I want now, future me isn't going to come in and save the day tomorrow.

So why don't we take an action when we say we want to do something? My best guess is because we view the goal/action as daunting (or too much for us). We focus on the miserableness that comes with starting something new. Especially if the new action is completely different from what we've done in the past. On the one hand, we want the result that comes with taking that action, but on the other hand, we see it as too much for us. So we put it off. And we put it off in the worst way possible, by telling untruths to ourselves. Then time passes and we have to come face to face with the reality that once again "future me" has let us down.

The other day I was taking a 2 hour road trip with a co-worker. During the conversation, he talked about the intentions/goals he once had back in college. I too shared mine. The difference between us was that mine were in progress while his seemed more like memories. During our conversation, he shared his admiration for the results I was producing. That's when I felt like I needed to share my secret for making things happen. My secret is so simple and obvious that I'm a little embarrassed to even call it a "secret."

Understanding that future me is pretty much useless unless I do something today, I always try to take immediate action whenever I'm inspired by an intention. Sometimes the action is just doing a Google search and gaining information, other times, it's putting something down on a to-do list. I'm careful, though, not to spend an eternity collecting information because that too can feed procrastination. Once I have the information I need, I take small (and I mean small) actions. Why small? Because when I do it, the action is easy and I don't have to overcome too many limiting thoughts. Plus I can reward myself once the action is completed and I'm more likely to repeat the action which moves me forward in my goal. This great secret I shared with my coworker was "no matter what, keep moving forward." Never stop! Even if it takes years to get where you want, never, ever stop! I guess I should clarify and say, "never give up." There are times in my journey where I've stopped for a period of time, but I pick up where I've left off and progress begins again. This idea of never stopping is what has created the most results for me.

I'd like to invite you to think about all the things you would like to do but you're putting off. Is there anything you can do today to take that first step forward? Even a teeny, tiny step is better than nothing at all. If you are really serious about your intentions, I invite you to keep record of your progress using a some sort of a tracker. Before you know it, you'll find yourself creating a habit of taking consistent actions and not having to count on "future you" to make things happen.
  1. Great article and very appropriate at this time of year when so many of us resolve to change or reach a goal.

    Personally speaking creating a tracking spreadsheet with timelines has helped me to achieve many financial goals and after reading this I will do the same for my future financial and health related goals starting today.

  2. God needed me to stumble on this site and see this. I'm saying good bye to future me...and start doing now......real talk....

  3. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself, may you continue to walk in truth.

  4. I was randomly searching I was randomly searching for this picture when I found your article. I wanted to let you know that I too felt like your co-worker for a really long time. Those moments when you feel like you can’t accomplish anything anymore and that I’m too old. But it’s never over and no one should ever give up on their goals in life. Thank you for the motivation, and keep writing, you've probably helped more people than you know.