As we begin, let me give you this reminder from the Word of God. Proverbs 14:23 says: "In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury (poverty)."
Our quote for today is from Edward Everett Hale. He said: "I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do."
Today, we are continuing with part 5 of the section titled, "Attitude Adjustment".
"Doing It Now" is written in a conversation format, and today’s conversation starter is: Suppose you lack the attribute of self-discipline that is supposed to be so essential, how do you develop it?
For starters, you change your attitude toward difficult tasks, and admit to yourself that postponing them will not make them easier. Tell yourself that from now on you are never going to put anything on the back burner without running the rationalization through your mental computer for careful analysis. As you weigh the reasons methodically and objectively, you will begin to spend less of your time in the fantasy world of the procrastinator and more in the real world where the penalties of postponement are recognized and unacceptable.
You'll start also with something even more basic: an attitude of affirmation. You must tell yourself that you really can change, if you want to. The tendency to procrastinate isn't something one is born with, like color blindness. It is a habit and you can alter habits. The way you begin is by admitting that you can and resolving that you will.
This "attitude of affirmation" you speak of—isn't that just another term for "the power of positive thinking"? And isn't that pretty old stuff?
The answer to both questions is, yes. Norman Vincent Peale calls it positive thinking. Robert Schuller uses the term possibility thinking. Clement Stone talks about PMA—positive mental attitude. Maxwell Malt coined the term psycho-cybernetics. Wayne Dyer speaks of becoming a no-limit person. An earlier proponent of positive thinking, Jesus of Nazareth, put it this way: "According to your faith be it unto you."
So, it's nothing new. But one of the ironies of the human condition is that old verities are suspect. A truth that has been proven millions of times through the ages will be questioned because of its very antiquity. We have to learn it all over again sometimes dressing it up in new garb. Thus each generation and each individual has to be convinced anew that love is better than hate, that peace is better than war, that virtue is better than vice, and that positive thinking brings success and negative thinking produces failure.
Sophisticates may scoff at what they describe as the simplistic message of Robert Schuller, but even they are awed by the magnificence of the great Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California, which "possibility thinking" produced. Even more important, they must be impressed by the changes that have occurred in countless lives because of the "simplistic" message of affirmation.
In the words of Dr. Karl Menninger, the famous psychiatrist, "Attitudes are more important than facts." Those six words express a profound truth. Change your attitude toward procrastination and you will have taken a major step toward overcoming it.
But to change your attitude by a mere act of will seems impossible. It's like lifting yourself by your bootstraps. If you don't honestly believe you can overcome procrastination, how do you trick yourself into believing you can? How do you convince yourself of something that simply isn't so?
You don't. Because it is so. You aren't tricking yourself or lying to yourself—you are stating a truth. Remember, we are not talking about just procrastination but about the things you are procrastinating on. The skill you want to develop, the weight loss you would like to achieve, the language you would like to learn, the house you would like to build—all of these things are attainable once you get it through your head that they really are, and that the only thing blocking them is your own negativism: your refusal to believe in your own capacity and then to act on that belief.
Proverbs 12:24 says: "The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute."
Our quote for today is from Thomas Carlyle. He said: “Nothing stops the man who desires to achieve. Every obstacle is simply a course to develop his achievement muscle. It's a strengthening of his powers of accomplishment.”
Today, we are continuing with part 4 of the section titled, "Attitude Adjustment".
"Doing It Now" is written in a conversation format, and today’s conversation starter is: Surely you have heard such phrases as “Go with the flow,” and “Don't push the river.” Don't these admonitions suggest the wisdom of accepting what life has dished out to us and enjoying it instead of going on a binge of self-admonition?
Not at all. Those phrases are perfectly valid in the proper context. It is foolish, of course, not to yield to the inevitable. But what is inevitable? One is reminded of the well-known Serenity Prayer by Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr:
O God, give us serenity to accept what cannot be changed,
Courage to change what should be changed,
And wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.
As far as our own behavior is concerned, when we achieve the wisdom spoken of in that prayer, most of us will emphasize the courage part more and the serenity part less.
Life is not a situation, but a process; not static, but dynamic. Its essential element is change, and the great question facing each of us is whether we will channel that change in the direction we want to go, shaping our destiny, or whether we will permit our activities and our character to be determined by those random forces we call fate. To the extent that we procrastinate, we are following the second course.
But this all sounds like such a chore! To fight procrastination—along with all the other imperfections we all have in our makeup—seems like a never-ending process. It seems as if you are asking people to be constantly at war with themselves.
In a sense that is true. The concept of an eternal struggle within us, between good and evil, between self-mastery and self-indulgence, goes back to the Garden of Eden; it is the great theme running through life and literature. But the testament of the human race is that the battle is worth fighting, that it gives zest to life, and that victory is sweet. In the words of the Roman poet Publius Syrus: “The greatest victory is victory over self; to be conquered by self is of all things the most shameful and vile.”
Yes, it is a battle. But it can be a very satisfying one if one is on the offensive and winning victories. Remember, when one begins to win, subsequent victories become easier, as the enemy weakens. Our strength and ability to overcome procrastination grow each time we chalk up a triumph, however small.
One of the notable achievers of recent years is Ray Kroc, chairman of the board of McDonald's, the man who parleyed the humble hamburger into a fortune. He says: “The longer I live, the more importance I attach to a man's ability to manage and discipline himself...The man with the capacity for self-discipline can tell himself to do the truly important things first. Therefore, if there is not enough time to go around, and something must be neglected, it will be the less essential task. Here is the most interesting thing about the capacity for self-discipline. He who wants it may have it!...The one ingredient we most need for success is ours for the asking, for the wanting, if we only want it enough!”
Self-discipline. That's where it all starts. There's no substitute.
In his book, Excellence, John Gardiner, founder of Common Cause, puts it this way: “Some people may have greatness thrust upon them. Very few have excellence thrust upon them. They achieve it. They do not achieve it unwittingly, by doing what comes naturally; and they don't stumble into it in the course of amusing themselves. All excellence involves discipline and tenacity of purpose.
Proverbs 13:4 says: "The soul of the sluggard desireth and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat."
Charles Wesley wrote:
A charge to keep I have,
A God to glorify,
A never-dying soul to save,
And fit it for the sky.
To serve the present age,
My calling to fulfill:
Oh, may it all my pow’rs engage
To do my Master’s will!
Today, we are continuing with part 3 of the section titled, "Attitude Adjustment".
"Doing It Now" is written in a conversation format, and today’s conversation starter is: You mentioned the varieties of procrastination. Isn't there just one variety—namely, putting things off?
No. There is one result, but there are a number of causes. I think the causes of procrastination can be grouped into four categories:
First are the attitudinal factors, which include such things as: unwillingness to tolerate discomfort or unpleasantness, fear of failure, fear of success, low self-esteem, depression, boredom, shyness, and feelings of guilt.
Second are the cognitive blocks such as: inadequate information, unclear priorities, indecision, uncertainty about how to attack the problem, and failure to appreciate the importance of timely action.
Third are environmental conditions or external factors that encourage delay. They include: clutter, disorganization, noise, unmanageable workloads, diversionary activities, lack of needed tools, and friends or relatives who lure one from the chosen task.
Fourth, there are the physiological barriers to timely action, including fatigue, stress, and illness.
Each instance of procrastination involves one or more of these. If you can pin down the cause of your procrastination, you will have taken a big step toward overcoming it and replacing it with the habit of prompt action. Then it won't be necessary for anyone ever to say of you:
He slept beneath the moon,
He basked beneath the sun;
He lived a life of going-to-do
And died with nothing done.
Such as the belief that one is "just a born procrastinator," the assumption that we are dealing with an innate character defect that we are helpless to correct. We must stop excusing ourselves with the fallacious argument that we are the victims of genetic or environmental factors condemning us to the role of the legendary character who goes through life "a dollar short and a day late."
But isn't there considerable truth in the assumption—for some people at least? Aren't all of us born with certain weaknesses? And if our weakness happens to be procrastination, shouldn't we accept it and just try to make the best of it? Why this compulsion to make ourselves over, instead of relaxing, and enjoying life? What's wrong with the philosophy of the old song, "Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be..."?
Que sera, sera is a lovely song, but a lousy philosophy. Nothing worthwhile was ever accomplished by anybody who met life with a shrug and an attitude of "whatever will be will be." There are plenty of people who do choose that approach, of course, but they are the zombies. Instead of that motto, your slogan should be, "Que quiero sera"—whatever I will, will be.
As we begin, let me give you this reminder from the Word of God. Colossians 3:23 says: "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men."
Vince Lombardi said, “The greatest accomplishment is not in never falling, but in rising again after you fall.”
Today, we are continuing with part 2 of the section titled, "Attitude Adjustment".
The book is written in a conversation format, and today’s conversation starter is: So procrastination is bad and we should all try to do something about it. But it still seems that with the innumerable problems besetting each of us, the question of whether we do something today or tomorrow is hardly a primary concern.
As a matter of fact, it is. So often it is the key to those other problems, large or small. Consider, for example, typical procrastinators whose problems are either created or intensified by delay:
These people and institutions wouldn't see themselves as having much in common, but they share several things:
All varieties of procrastination, in fact, involve self-delusion of one kind or another. They involve denial of reality, and refusal to weigh penalties and alternatives objectively.
In other words, you are saying that procrastination is stupid.
Exactly. It's a form of game-playing. And idiotic game-playing at that, because we ourselves are invariably the losers. In the words of the poet Robert Abrahams:
Some men die by shrapnel
And some go down in flames,
But most men perish inch by inch
In play at little games.
Overcoming procrastination means giving up the games and being honest with ourselves.
Thank you for tuning in to the "Get Things Done" podcast. The simple purpose of this podcast is to help you get things done every day so that you can accomplish something worthwhile with your life. I am a firm believer that God has put each person on earth to do something great for His glory. My name is Daniel Whyte III, founder and president of GLM Omnimedia Group LLC.
In this podcast, we are going through the book "Doing It Now" by Edwin C. Bliss. I had just finished speaking at a meeting in Philadelphia many years ago, and as I was walking through the airport, I picked up this little book and read it in its entirety. It is one of the best books that I have ever read on this subject, and along with prayer and the power of God, it is one of the reasons why I have accomplished so much in my life. Today, I want to share with you some of the principles that Edwin C. Bliss talks about in his book.
As we begin, let me give you this reminder from the Word of God. Ecclesiastes 9:10 says: "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest."
Leonardo da Vinci said, “It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”
The first thing Edwin Bliss talks about in his book is "Attitude Adjustment". The book is written in question and answer format, as though he were sitting down talking with you over lunch.
The first question is: Procrastination seems to be a universal fact of life. Shouldn't we just accept it as part of human nature and let it go at that?
Not at all. Some people do, of course, but they generally turn out to be the ones who are defeated by life.
But when something is so widespread, isn't it rather pointless to fight it?
No. Disease is widespread, but we don't shrug our shoulders or ignore it. The important thing is not how widespread a problem is but whether something can be done about it. And in the case of procrastination it can.
Are you sure? Where is the evidence that this problem can be overcome?
The evidence is found in the life of every successful human being. Successful people do not procrastinate—at least in matters relating to their field of achievement. It's as simple as that. Procrastination prevents success.
Wait a minute. Surely you can't mean that. Practically everybody admits to being a procrastinator. It's the common denominator of the human race.
Not really. It's the common denominator of people who fail to live up to their potential. It's true that nearly everyone will jokingly admit to procrastination. But when successful people do, what they are really saying is that there are some things that they would like to have done that they haven't done. That isn't the same thing as procrastination.
Maybe a definition would clarify things. Exactly what do you mean by procrastination?
I mean postponing something that you know in your heart should be done now instead of later. If you postpone a task in order to do something that really has greater importance and urgency, you can't accuse yourself of procrastination.
So what you're saying is that procrastination and justifiable delay are two different things.
Of course. And learning to distinguish between them is what this book is all about. That, and learning what to do when you catch yourself committing the sin of procrastination.
Did you say 'sin'?
Isn't that putting it a bit strongly? It's a bad habit, admittedly. Even a peccadillo, perhaps. But surely it can't be called a sin!
It certainly can. As any theologian will tell you, sin comes in two varieties. The sin of commission gets all the attention, but in the words of Ogden Nash:
It is the sin of omission, the second kind of sin,
That lays eggs under your skin.
The way you get really painfully bitten
Is by the insurance you haven't taken out and
the checks you haven't added up the stubs of and
the appointments you haven't kept and
the bills you haven't paid and
the letters you haven't written.
Also, about sins of omission there is one particularly painful lack of beauty,
Namely, it isn't as though it had been a riotous red letter day
Or night every time you neglected to do your duty;
You didn't get a wicked forbidden thrill
Every time you let a policy lapse
Or forgot to pay a bill;
You didn't slap the lads in the tavern on the back and loudly cry,
“Whee, let's all fail to write just one more letter before we go home,
And this round of unwritten letters is on me.”
No, you never get any fun
Out of the things you haven't done,
But they are the things that I do not like to be amid,
Because the suitable things you didn't do
Give you a lot more trouble than the unsuitable things you did.
In this matter of doing things when they should be done, I think that if we can become saints instead of sinners, we will live happier, healthier, and more productive lives.
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We will continue this discussion regarding an attitude adjustment toward procrastination in our next podcast.
Now, let’s pray together --
Almighty and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare thou those, O God, who confess their faults. Restore thou those who are penitent; According to thy promises declared unto mankind In Christ Jesus our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake; That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of thy holy Name. Amen.
Now, the greatest secret to getting things done with your life for the glory of God is to have the Lord Jesus Christ in your life. When you have Jesus in your life, you can say with Paul in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, John 3:16 states, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can have a home in Heaven. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
God bless you, and remember: if you have something to do, there is no better time to do it than now.