Following Through: What’s Wrong With Me?

by Margaret Lukens, New Leaf + Company LLC

Tra dire al fare, c’e in mezzo il mare. (Between saying and doing lies the sea.) — Italian proverb

You have set a goal, and it’s a good one. You know what steps you need to take, at least initially. Maybe you’ve taken one or two of those first steps, but sooner or later you run out of steam. Time passes, and your goal is no closer to reality than it ever was. What’s happening?

Are you a weak-willed wimp? Do you suffer from those character defects your elementary school teacher suggested would bring you down in the end? Is it fear of failure? Fear of success? What is going on?

The fault probably lies with none of the above. It turns out that inconsistent follow-through is a feature of human life, a strength that is also a weakness. In an earlier post I wrote about how it is that my dog always acts immediately on her intentions, while I, sadly, do not always act on mine.

It’s because I, being human, am uniquely adapted to respond to a wide range of specific conditions, while my pooch’s repertoire is much more limited. I can conceive of thousands of possible actions at any given time. My flexibility as I move through the world is dazzling! I can turn nimbly from one top priority (completing my taxes) to another (learning Spanish) every few moments, unless I perceive an immediate threat to my existence, such as a tiger in the trees.

We all learned that “the squeaky wheel gets the grease,” and so it is. I simply respond to the project that is squeaking the loudest at any given moment. But completing my taxes or actually mastering Spanish require concerted effort. How will I ever attain a goal if I constantly flit from one project to another?

We have to find a way to make our important goals “squeak”.

Do you have a method of making your goals “squeak”? How to do help yourself overcome barriers to following through? Don’t procrastinate! Record them here!

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