Acting in today takes hard work. It’s the only way to succeed. And yet, for many people, the attraction of tomorrow is so great. But tomorrow thinking is a trap. And self talk is one of the biggest traps to tomorrow thinking – and failure.
What follows are some of the most popular rationalizations of tomorrow persons. The rationalizations may help keep mental stability, but they sure sabotage performance, and end up as destructive self talk. In the minds of action oriented, sense of urgency, get it done people, these nine phrases have very different meanings than they do to tomorrow persons.
I present these nine for your review – along with a short narrative about each.
Good things come to those who wait.
Well, not really. How often have the best seats been left for the last people that show up? How often are the best sales items still available when the last people show up? How many choice assignments go to those who wait to be asked? How many sales went to the person who took a month to prepare, while three others called ahead of him/her? How often does riding in on the big white horse to solve a problem at the last minute really work? Who got the aisle seat on Southwest by showing up late at the gate?
“Tomorrow Tomorrow” – from “Annie”
Tomorrow – what a lovely ring it has to it – the day when everything will get done. The day when we will work twice as hard as we did today – to make up for the things we are avoiding doing now. It’s a lovely place – tomorrow. It’s so full of hope, and possibilities, and potential. It’s sad, but so many people won’t see tomorrow – because tomorrow never comes. When we get to tomorrow, it becomes today – and we can think of the next tomorrow. As Annie sang – “Tomorrow is just a day away” – always.
“The Sun Will Come Up Tomorrow” – from “Annie”
I can guarantee the sun will come up tomorrow. There is no guarantee that we will come up with it.
It’s never too late
Well, actually, it probably is too late if you’re telling yourself that it’s never too late. Actually, it is always too late, if there was time to do an important thing today, and it wasn’t done. That job application, that investment decision, that note to a sick friend, that statement of love to a parent, that certification test not taken, that talk with the boss delayed, that business opportunity not acted on. Life does not offer an infinite number of possibilities – it just does not work that way. “Never too late” is code for “Failure to act.”
I’m just too busy.
Uh-huh. Let’s see – gotta take out the garbage, shine my shoes, organize my desk, call that friend, order that piece of exercise equipment, go to the store. Damn, where did all the time go? It just slipped away from me – I’m just too busy to follow up on that sales call until tomorrow – or to complete the taxes – or to get the car fixed.
How long do I have to get it done?
In other words, how long do I have until I really gotta get cracking on it? Two weeks? What a relief – I thought I would have to start today – tomorrow is much better. If I work this right, maybe I can get it done on time – this time.
Things could be worse.
This one is true – things can always get worse – and worse – and worse. This belief reminds me of the two farmers on a blazing hot day. A dog was sitting in the middle of an asphalt road. It was HOT. One farmer turned to the other and said ” I wonder why that dog don’t move his sorry butt off that hot asphalt?” The other farmer replied ” Well, I guess it ain’t hot enough yet.” It’s amazing what you can get used to, and tolerate, when it just isn’t time to move – regardless how hot things might be. Easier to sit and sweat than to act.
I will do twice as much tomorrow to make up for what I did not do today.
That’s so much bull. What makes you think tomorrow will be any different than today? Oh, I forgot – tomorrow is the day full of possibilities. The day to spring from the bed ready and rar’in to go on all the things you weren’t rar’in to go on today. Uh -huh. Face it – the chance that you will work twice as hard tomorrow has been a promise made and not kept for months, or years, or decades. It will not happen.
I do my best work when I have my back to the wall – when I’m working against a deadline.
Ah, yes. The old “I’m best when I work under pressure” belief. Unfortunately, the pressure is self imposed, usually because of a looming deadline, or a project behind schedule, or a commitment not kept. So the pressure becomes not to excel, but to survive. There are going to be so many unexpected things that demand time and energy that creating artificial pressures just doesn’t make sense. The biggest personal cost in creating self induced pressure is in not having time to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves at the “wrong” time. And what time would that be? When your back is to the wall on self induced pressure deadlines.
If any of these sabotaging self talk rationalizations sound familiar, focus on the one that you recognize the most – and vow to do something today to confront it. Doing it today is more important than what is done – or how perfect it is – or how much you fear it. Take that first step and live in today – today.