This post is the third in a series about the ways we sabotage ourselves. Because self-sabotage so often lies in our blindspots, it is usually something we are unable to see in ourselves. The intent of these posts is to provide some insight into areas you may be letting yourself off the hook (read about the opposite of that approach here). You can read the first post here, and the second post here.
Today our focus is on postponement. This is perhaps the greatest challenge to any powerful change. We call it procrastination, because that lets us beat ourselves up for it and that feels kind of good ("at least I feel bad for not doing it, I'll definitely do it today...").
Read this quote from Steve Chandler's excellent book, the Wealth Warrior:
People are often hypnotized by a childish sense of forever. They think things will eventually be given to them if they wait for eternity plus a week or two.
We do not have an unlimited amount of time. In fact, each moment is precious. And yet, we continue to act as though we can put things off indefinitely.
The greatest predictor of the future, is the past
If you have been putting things off in the past, with the expectation that you will instead do them in the future, check that expectation against this simple prediction algorithm. Then, check it again. How have things gone in the past? What is predictable, after you have put things off?
People often run into this problem the second they consider working with a coach. The two main objections to hiring a coach are that it costs too much money, and it requires too much time. I always provide the opportunity to any perspective client to be coached around these objections, but, not surprisingly, most people decline the offer.
Instead, they tell themselves that they will go away, be responsible with money, save up enough, and then will be able to hire a coach. If we looked at what is predictable, we would see that the story will be no different one year from now, two years from now, five years from now, or ten years from now.
People fight with this. "But things really are different right now, I just had a child, and have to manage those expenses!" This is just another way of postponing. We have a deep fascination with our own circumstances (notice how often you either: judge other people for letting circumstance stop them; or get on court with them and buy in to their circumstances). Today's child, will be tomorrow's second child, or scholarship savings, or a new house, or the new car that you just bought, etc.
Leadership is not about getting caught on circumstance. It's about noticing what is missing, and shifting ourselves in order to be aligned with it. It is about being at cause to create our lives, regardless of what circumstances get in the way.
The first step is recognizing when you're doing this. This, in itself, is a challenge for most people, because we want to do it alone. We don't want to have our darkness let out into the world, and when our friends reflect this to us, we feel confronted and get defensive. In my experience, most people start to develop the ability very gradually. At first, they'll notice they're postponing, and then slip right back into it. Our survival mechanisms really are that slippery.
So, what are you currently postponing? What are you fooling yourself into believing there is ample time to step into? Here are some places to look:
Do you want to take on something differently, or do you want to wait another couple of weeks/months/years/eternities. It's your choice.