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'I'm not ready to quit ' -- What are you waiting for?          Send a link to a friend

[NOV. 15, 2005]  CUMMING, Ga.-- Procrastination. I know it well. From taxes to yardwork to filing papers -- you name it, I'm the expert procrastinator. I can put off doing anything, with style and ease. I file tax return extensions at 11:59 p.m. on April 15 without breaking a sweat.

Am I proud of this? Well, admittedly, sometimes yes. I pat myself on the back and say, "I have the amazing ability to get things done at the last minute."

Do I usually end up regretting my procrastination? Almost always. So I've had to learn ways to get things done now, on time. I'm still learning and always will be. Procrastination is a persistent thief!

Procrastination is an expensive way to spend your life. Waiting until the last minute can even cost you your life. And when you "spend" your life mired in procrastination, you don't truly live. You are perpetually putting off living.

Focusing on quitting smoking, how many times have you said, "I'm not ready to quit," or "I'll quit tomorrow," or "I'll quit when I'm not under so much stress"? What are you waiting for?

The costs of procrastination

If you fail to file your taxes on time, you'll pay penalties and interest. If you fail to quit smoking, you'll eventually pay with your life.

Putting off almost anything will cost you more tomorrow than it will today. I firmly believe that one of the main costs of procrastination is the mental anguish you experience when you know you have something you really should be doing. But most procrastination also comes with a direct cost, whether it be financial or health-related or otherwise.

You should take careful note of the cost of waiting "until later" to quit smoking. Calculate how much cigarettes cost you every day, month and year. Calculate how much of your life goes up in smoke with each cigarette. Estimates range from three to 15 minutes of your life that are lost for every single cigarette you smoke. That's one to five hours per pack! Is the temporary satisfaction (fix) worth that much to you? Plus, smoking causes countless fires, wastes billions of dollars in "smoking break" time and costs billions of dollars for medical care. You pay for this too!

Causes of procrastination

So, what causes procrastination? Simply put, you do. But why? Why do you procrastinate? Why do you put off doing something that is beneficial to you?

Life and motivation and psychology are complex and sometimes not rational.

What causes me to put off doing my taxes? I hate dealing with forms and complicated tax laws and hundreds of difficult decisions and paperwork and financial information. In my mind these are all good reasons to "do it later." (But I bet you never saw a Nike ad that said, "Just do it later.")

There are numerous causes and explanations for procrastination, including, but not limited to:

  1. Fear of failure
  2. Fear of success
  3. Fear of the unknown
  4. Lack of interest or motivation
  5. Lack of information
  6. Too much information
  7. Indecision
  8. Not knowing where to start
  9. Too busy
  10. Laziness

Whatever the supposed cause may be, most times they are simply excuses for waiting until later to do something that needs doing now. What's your excuse for not quitting today?

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Cures for procrastination

Jump in and get started! That's what I've found to be the best cure for procrastination. Overcoming the inertia and getting moving helps me to "keep on truckin'" through my taxes or whatever else I need to do. If I sit and dread doing the data entry for all my bank accounts, nothing happens. If I just sit down, take the plunge and start inputting my financial information in my computer, before I know it I'm nearly done. I work through it until I get it right. Getting my various bank accounts reconciled takes time and some trial and error, but by jumping in feet-first I get the process started and my taxes done.

Similarly, to quit smoking, just get started. Today! Don't worry if you don't have all the information or if the time isn't perfect or if you don't think you can quit. Just give it your best shot! There never will be the perfect conditions for you to quit. Face it! Time waits for no one, as they say, so quit today or face the consequences tomorrow.

Keep these thoughts in mind as you begin to quit:

Do it today! Now! Not tomorrow or sometime soon. Seize the moment and make it happen now. Now is the only time anyone has.

Inch by inch, it's a cinch. If someone told you to smoke 7,300 cigarettes today, you'd call them crazy. But if they told you to smoke a pack a day for one year, then you'd say "no problem." Likewise, if you worry about not being able to smoke tomorrow because you quit today, you may find yourself panicked and unable to quit. Deal with today, and let tomorrow take care of itself.

Begin with an ending. Before you start a trip you'd better know where you're going. In Stephen Covey's book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People," one of the seven habits is, "Begin with the end in mind." In other words, get a clear vision in your mind -- and on paper -- of what you want and where you want to be. This may seem contradictory to what I said about not worrying about tomorrow, but these two principles work hand in hand. By knowing clearly what you want to achieve, you can relax in the day-to-day details of accomplishing your goal.

There's never a "perfect" time or situation to do anything. Don't wait for "perfect," because it will never come. Do the best you can with what you know today. Great achievers don't magically know all the answers when they begin some new undertaking. The process, the action, the investigation that they experience brings the answers and the achievement. You need to begin the process of quitting today, whether or not you know how. You'll learn by doing. You may not quit permanently the first time you try to quit. That's OK! You will learn what YOU need to know to quit permanently next time. Great achievers take massive action. Take action!

Quitting smoking now, today, is difficult, but the rewards are immense. Throw out your excuses and get started. Excuses are the currency of failure and the destitute.

Tomorrow never comes. Quit smoking today!

[** Article copyright Fred Kelley of Visit the website at for great information and products designed to help you quit smoking.]

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