We’re more than halfway through August, and rocketing toward the beginning of a new school year. We wondered for quite a while if we would survive 2020, and now 2021 is looking like a soon-to-be memory. We made personal promises on personal promises, and while some have been fulfilled, others have yet to even be touched.
It’s not a waiting game. It’s procrastination. And we still have months in which to overcome it.
One of my big procrastinating games has been to document our family history. I have been promising myself that bit of archiving for over a year, and it waited on my shelf until recently. My loving sister sent along a gift early this summer—a book titled: How to Save Your Life. It’s about writing the stories that I had long wanted to write. These are the stories of my family, my life, my career. They’re stories that my students have long groaned at in class. They’re the stories about how to become a better human, consultant or leader. Great. Now I had a vision. Now I had a guidebook on how to write the vision. Now I had a framework.
And my wife stole the book.
She promised to buy me another copy. She bought another copy. She gave it to her mom. She bought yet another copy. She gave it to her aunt.
It was interesting that copy after copy flowed through our house, never making it to my desk. I finally decided that it was time to work without a net. To jump without a parachute. I started on my procrastination project without the book. And progress is being made.
As a profound procrastinator, I learned something powerful about project procrastination. Let others impede project progress long enough, and the procrastinating stops. It’s time to move. It’s time for action.
As a project manager, I’ve often been forced into the corner where I want myself and others to act. I have not come up with a lot of great solutions. This is definitely a powerful lesson learned. I may be goaded to action (as may others) by the nature of impediments to accomplishment. The new PMP® exam focuses heavily on Agile, and one component thereof is an intriguing discussion on impediments, obstacles and blockers. These are different stages of those elements that stand in the way of project progress. And yet, PMI® does not explore them as potential motivators. Put a roadblock in the way, and anticipate that people will suddenly see a desperate need to get around it.
Consider that the next time you find yourself stymied by a speed bump or any other obstruction. Consider that when you make promises to yourself, you can self-motivate by becoming vexed with blockades, barriers, and bars.
Almost every student in my PMP® Certification Exam Preparation training mentions their own level of procrastination in earning the certification. They have tried at the exam before, and gave up. They have planned for years to tackle the challenge. They surrendered.
And those of you who have the PMP®, you know that it was a challenging hill to climb, but you remain thrilled that you climbed it, and succeeded. It’s just one more example of how time flies. This is written in August. Anyone considering the exam could readily have it over with by Halloween. By Thanksgiving. By Christmas. It’s do-able. Just let your wife steal the book.
The following is an essay by Emmet Fox, from a compilation his essays entitled “Find and Use Your Inner Power”:
“Don’t Be a Dinosaur”
In a certain museum in New York they have a couple of dinosaur’s eggs on view. This exhibit is very popular with
the public because it appeals to the imagination. Visitors say, “Isn’t it interesting. She laid those eggs millions of
years ago, and here they are today untouched!”
Interesting to us they undoubtedly are, but thoughtless people are apt to overlook the fact that for the dinosaur in question they represent just complete failure. After all the trouble of laying those eggs nothing ever
came of them—wasted effort.
It is surprising how many otherwise intelligent men and women waste the best days of their lives laying dinosaur’s eggs that they never hatch out. Either through lack of energy, or lack of intelligent planning, or failure
to make God a partner, or more often sheer muddle-headedness, they lay an excellent egg and then stroll
away and forget it.
Don’t be a dinosaur. Do not start a plan unless you really think it is worthwhile, and if you are convinced that it
is worthwhile, do not rest until you have brought it to fruition. Jesus had something to say about those who
put their hand to the plow and then look back.*
Select something worth doing; take God for your partner in the enterprise and keep at it until success is assured. Don’t be a dinosaur.
Carl, two examples of some of the dinosaur eggs in my basket over the years:
Attaining US Citizenship (36 years) – finally faced this when searching for employment after being RIF’d from a job I held with a single employer for 32 years. Voted in my first presidential election in 2008 and have very proudly participated in this important civic duty ever since.
Photo CD for Kees & Tilly
In 2011, I attended my cousin Kees and Tilly’s 80 birthday party in Toronto, Canada. I packed my Nikon digital camera, planning to take candid photos of the event, and turn them into a photo CD as a souvenir of the party. Fast forward to January 2022 – 11 years later, it’s finally done. Sad that we lost cousin Kees after he turned 90 last year, so he never saw the pictures. Tilly is now 92, and finally, an inner voice shouted rather loudly into my heart – NOW IS THE TIME – GET IT DONE! So, I did. I logged into Shutterfly, and stumbled through the learning curve, uploading my photos, and had the photobook sent it directly to Tilly in Canada. Shutterfly did not indicate where the photobook came from, so she spent hours on the phone with her daughters, asking who could possibly have sent it to her? She finally solved the mystery herself and called to thank me that evening. She was so excited, and very pleased with her photobook. It absolutely made my day. And so, another dinosaur egg has hatched and come to fruition.
I could name a few more, but the two examples above suffice. All the perceived “obstacles” in the way just crumbled into dust. And it has taught me to be more courageous and face my inner procrastinator!