How to Stop Putting Off Important Things

We all do it.


Between work and family obligations, errands, the mere whiff of a social life and the few minutes we manage to cobble together here and there for relaxation, we carry around an endless source of excuses for why something important to us must wait until later. But later rarely comes knocking and before we know it, the stress associated with not taking action has become yet another excuse to procrastinate.

Take my blog, for example. It had been about a year since I published a new post. I say “published” because for the first few weeks of that year, I was writing, but putting off publishing my work. This post wasn’t ready yet. That one needed more polishing. Another post could benefit from more research. I even wrote a post about how fear holds many of us back from pursuing even our most modest goals, but was too afraid to finish and share it. Before long I had stopped writing altogether.

Oh, the irony…

But then a good friend and fellow entrepreneur provided me with just the nudge I needed — an elegantly honest post called “Taking Small Steps” about defeating procrastination by taking even tiny action and letting “good enough” be good enough. It is a familiar concept I had previously embraced, but in this case, was just what I needed to hear from just the right source at just the right time.

Woody Allen once observed that “80 percent of success is showing up.” We may not hit every ball out of the park and we may never find our work on The New York Times Best Sellers List, but the only sure way to avoid real success is to hide from the world and keep our mouths shut.

What is the most important thing that you are putting off today? What skill or gift do you have the urge to share, but perhaps not the motivation or time to do it? What is the smallest step you can take this very minute toward acting on that instinct?

Well, go on, then. Give it a shot. And please drop me a note about how it felt to move forward, even if ever so slightly.


A version of this post originally appeared on Brian’s blog, Against the Grain.

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