Thursday, August 18, 2011

"Do It Now" - The Principle of Inertia

Part 5 of 6
Inertia has been defined as "the tendency of a body at rest to remain at rest or of a body in straight line motion to stay in motion in a straight line unless acted on by an outside force." There is a propensity with most of us to stay where we are and to continue doing what we have been doing. Yet it also is true that "if we always do what we've always done, we'll always get what we've always gotten."

If you've read this far in the series it's quite likely that you really are wanting to make positive change in your life. If so, this key is vital for you: start now. The world is full of people who have every intention of doing the right thing. They're planning on saving, losing weight, getting in shape, charting a growth plan for their life or any number of worthwhile goals. Yet it never seems to happen.

For some it's because they suffer from "the paralysis of analysis" - the need to look at every aspect of the decision in minute detail. They fear making a mistake; so they wait for the "perfect" opportunity, but such do not exist. It's like they're stuck: ready, aim, aim, aim, aim... At some point, if we're going to get something done, we have to begin. "Fire" already!

Some wise person said "if you have to eat a frog, eat it first thing in the morning." While I have no desire to eat a frog, the point is valid. Get the project you dread out of the way as quickly as possible. The reason for this is obvious: the longer we wait, the larger the problem becomes in our minds. It grows fangs and claws and hair and learns how to hit us where it hurts!!! As William James said, "Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task." Conversely, dealing with issues or challenges early gives us a sense of accomplishment that helps with whatever else we might face.

One thing that I've found helpful is developing the habit of prioritizing. Once I list my tasks for the day I place them in order of priority. I try to tackle the most important things first. The challenge, however, is to not wait for something to become a crisis before it makes it to our priority list. Developing the habit of doing the small things in a timely matter can prevent them from becoming larger and more urgent down the road. As Chip Ingram writes: "When you've procrastinated and have a week's worth of papers to file, twelve calls to return, several days' worth of homework or office projects to complete, and five loads of laundry to do, it's a little demotivating, isn't it?"

Once we push ourselves into that kind of a corner, it can be overwhelming to get out. What I've learned over the years, as I've found myself in those situations, is to "lean into it." A leadership principle that applies here is to "accept the pressure of the moment." Resist the urge to throw your hands up in the air and run in the other direction, or to simply curl up on the couch. Simply begin by starting with that which is in front of you. In establishing the discipline of doing it now you can save yourself from a world of problems later. As my mother always told me, "never put off until tomorrow what you could do today."

Related Articles:
"Do Your Own Dishes" - The Principle of Responsibility
"Write It Down" - The Principle of Clarity
"Take Out the Trash" - The Principle of Transformation
“Put God First” - The Principle of Priority
Developing Great Habits

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