As we begin, let me give you this reminder from the Word of God. Genesis 2:3 says: "And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made."
Our quote for today is from Margaret Thatcher. She said: "Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It's not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it's a day you've had everything to do and you've done it."
Today, we are continuing with part 6 of the section titled, "Attitude Adjustment".
"Doing It Now" is written in a conversation format, and today’s conversation starter is: Let's grant that faith in yourself is a big plus; the fact still remains that sometimes your faith may not be justified. People can't do things beyond their powers, and they know it. In such a situation how can they engage in "possibility thinking"? You are asking people to close their eyes to reality.
Not at all. You see, there is little danger of people setting goals for themselves that are truly beyond their reach. It does happen, but very rarely. For example, I might fantasize about myself as a great movie star, or as world heavyweight boxing champion, or as the world's greatest detective, but I would never set those things as goals. Knowing that I don't have the required attributes, and knowing that my interests lie in other directions, I would never commit myself to them.
No, the problem isn't in setting goals that are too high; the problem is setting goals that are too low. And most of us do. Consequently, we achieve only a portion of what we could.
It's anybody's guess. But the greatest psychologist-philosopher, William James, estimated that most people use only about one-tenth of their potential powers. He said, "Everyone knows that on any given day there are energies slumbering in him which the incitements of that day do not call forth. Compared with what we ought to be, we are only half awake. Our fires are dampened, our drafts are checked. We are making use of only a small part of our possible mental and physical resources."
A modern-day philosopher, Linus (alias: Charles M. Schulz), puts it more succinctly: 'Life is like a ten-speed bicycle. Most of us have gears that we never use."
But how does all this relate to procrastination?
When "our fires are dampened," and we use only part of our potential, procrastination is nearly always a factor. Shyness, laziness, indecision, indifference, fear, negative thinking, dissipation, fuzzy goals, poor self-image—these and many other things can put a ceiling on our level of achievement. But the mechanism through which these inhibitors manifest themselves is usually procrastination. Our shyness, laziness, indecision, fear, or whatever causes us to postpone doing the things we know we should do, and the result is failure, total or partial. As someone has said, "People don't fail because they intend to fail. They fail because they fail to do what they intend to do."
So you're saying, then, that procrastination is not so much a disease as a symptom.
In that case, shouldn't we be concerning ourselves with the causes rather than with the effect? Shouldn't we be figuring out what to do about shyness, laziness, indecision, fear, etc., rather than dealing with the procrastination that results from these problems?
We are going to do both. Obviously, if we can identify and eliminate the causes that is the way to go. But behavioral scientists have shown that the reverse procedure also works—even better, in many cases. Changing an undesired behavior can alter the attitudes that caused the behavior in the first place.