We all need to spring forward into action, rather than procrastinate about why we can’t, says Rhonda Scharf
Springtime always gives me a boost. It’s when I feel most motivated to clean my house and my car, and get my garden ready for planting. I love the feeling of putting away my Canadian winter clothing and lightening up for the warmer days ahead. There is a spring in my step and in my mood, as well. We move the clocks forward one hour (“spring forward”) and we get to enjoy days that are longer and warmer.
The spring forward metaphor can apply to our lives as well. What have you been putting on the back burners in your life? What have you been ignoring? What have you been procrastinating about?
Procrastination is a choice. You decide that a goal or a task isn’t important. (After all, if it was important, you’d just do it, right?)
Have you been procrastinating about going back to school? Updating your resume? Looking for a new job? Joining a professional organization? Even something as simple as buying your own subscription to Executive Secretary instead of borrowing someone else’s?
Why do we procrastinate? If I offered you free coaching to help you make plans to spring forward, would you take me up on it? Even if you did call me (although many people wouldn’t take advantage of my offer in the first place), would you faithfully implement all the plans we created?
Now, if I offered you $5,000,000 to call me at 9 a.m. so we could talk about making plans to spring forward, would you?
So, the telephone conversation isn’t the problem.
What is? The problem is that you need the right motivation. Five million dollars is plenty of motivation. In fact, there are probably a lot of things you’ve been procrastinating on that you would get done with that kind of motivation.
We’re capable of coming up with lots of excuses when we’re not motivated to do something. We blame the weather, the traffic, our busy schedule, our tight finances… the list can be endless. And some of these excuses are legitimate. But should they stop us from implementing our plans? No, because it doesn’t have to be an “all or nothing” situation.
Take your job, for instance. Let’s say you’ve been in your job so long that it’s bordering on boring. Some days you can just flip the on switch and move through your day. There is something very soothing and comforting about knowing you can do your job with your eyes closed. But on other days, you’re frustrated by the lack of challenge. You know that if you took a job that was more challenging, you would be more interested in your work and you might even make more money.
So, why don’t you find a better, more challenging job? Well, you certainly can’t get one that would require you work late, because you need to pick up your kids at daycare. You like your current boss and you’d miss your coworkers. If you leave your current company, the next one might not be as good. Your commute might be worse. And what if the new job has a different dress code? You’d have to buy some new clothes.
Are those excuses? Of course they are. Are they valid? Potentially—but one thing is 100 per cent certain… they are holding you back from springing forward.
If the new job with occasional overtime paid $5,000,000 a year would you take it? If it was across town and you needed to buy a car to get to work, would you take it? Yes, you would. Even if your new boss wasn’t quite as nice as your old one? Even if it meant you had to buy new clothes?
The working late, the nice coworkers and the convenient location are one thing and one thing only: excuses.
It’s not likely that you are going to find a new job with a $5,000,000 salary, but what would be enough to make you leave your current job? What would it take for you to be willing to increase your challenge level at work, and potentially your salary?
Warren and I love where we live. It’s just a mile away from my son, so we often walk over and visit him. My son is getting married this year, so I guess we will have grandchildren in our future. Our house has a beautiful pool in the backyard, a maintenance-free front yard, great neighbours and convenient shopping and it’s close to the airport (which is handy, since I fly at least once a week).
However, our house is much too big now that the kids have gone. Our taxes are quite high and we have virtually no privacy. The cost of running our home is high, and it sits empty for the winter when we go to Florida.
But I don’t want to move. Our current home isn’t perfect, but I have come up with a long list with lots of reasons why we shouldn’t move. However, instead of holding myself back with excuses that were preventing me from doing something I didn’t want to do (move), I decided that I would spring forward in my thinking.
Warren and I think we know what the perfect home for us would be like. We know where it would be and we know approximately what it would cost.
We’re keeping our eyes on the real estate market just in case this perfect home comes along. So far it hasn’t, which is fine, because neither of us really wants to move right now. But we know that one day we will move into a house that will ultimately be better for us.
If the perfect house comes along, I am guessing that it will be the equivalent of the $5,000,000 cheque. It will make us want to move—it will motivate us to move. We won’t talk ourselves into staying in a house that isn’t the perfect fit.
But we have to be willing and ready to spring forward if the time comes. We have to be willing to realize when we’re just making excuses. We have to decide what we want in our next house so that when we see the right one, we won’t procrastinate or find new reasons why we shouldn’t move.
If you’re in the job I described earlier, it doesn’t mean you need to leave it. It might mean that you just need to keep your eyes open for something that’s a better fit. When you see it, apply for it. Even if you apply for it, it doesn’t mean you have to take it.
If you are the right fit for the company, you’ll be offered the job. Once you’re offered the job, you’ll have to decide if you are excited enough about it to make the leap. To do that, you’ll need to be clear with yourself and acknowledge when excuses are getting in your way.
You don’t have to go back to school right now, but take a look at the courses your local college offers at night school. Does one of them excite you? If it does, sign up for it. If you can’t sign up, go to YouTube or Lynda.com and look for online courses that are similar.
Instead of saying you can’t afford to go to a workshop or buy a subscription, start keeping quarters (or dollars) in a jar. You can probably collect quite a lot of spare change without even feeling the pinch. Change that you can then put toward your own change—in your life and career.
The bottom line is that we all need to spring forward into action, rather than procrastinate or invent excuses about why we can’t.
Spring is here—are you ready?