Enthusiasm is what makes the difference between reaching our goals and giving up before we get started. Thomas Edison said, “If the only thing we leave our kids is the quality of enthusiasm, we will have given them an estate of incalculable value.” Edison’s research laboratory burned to the ground when he was 67. As the fire consumed his world-famous “invention factory,” Edison told his children, “Kids, go get your mother. She’ll never see another fire like this one.” Edison knew that enthusiasm is the best antidote for tragedy, and it’s the most powerful weapon to use in the war against procrastination.
I have learned that my level of enthusiasm has nothing to do with my feelings; my feelings wake up on a different side of the bed every day. To take control of my life, I must choose the way I feel-I can’t let my feelings control me. Can you talk yourself into a positive frame of mind when you’re discouraged? How do you keep yourself motivated? How do you stay focused when a job is tedious? How do you handle failure when your plan isn’t going well? Here are a few ideas that will help:
– Stay away from negative people. Attitudes are contagious-negative people infect us with negative attitudes. Associate with positive thinkers; their self-confidence is contagious, too.
– Schedule difficult tasks for the time of day when your energy is highest. If you haven’t determined the best time for you to tackle the day’s least appealing jobs, try doing them as early as possible.
– Tackle a problem that’s been a thorn in your side. When you get in the habit of making things happen, your enthusiasm goes through the roof. Inactivity is a major cause of depression and anxiety. (On the other hand, you can increase your energy level without eliminating other forces that cause procrastination; teenagers are particularly adept at expending enormous amounts of energy without getting anything done. Always remember that any technique is only effective when used as part of a total strategy.)
When you breeze through a task with particular ease and competence, make a note of the time of day and ask yourself what other factors might have contributed to making you more productive. When you start to discover a pattern, you will have found how to operate at a higher level every day. When you identify the time of day when you are usually most efficient, schedule some of your least enjoyable tasks for that time.
We must continue to learn new things as if we were going to live forever, while living each day as if it were the last. Telling myself that “Today is the first day of the rest of my life” doesn’t work for me. If today were the last day of my life, how would I live it? That is the question I ask myself when I must fight against the forces of procrastination.
Always remember that enthusiasm is a choice. Mark Twain said, “Do something every day that you don’t want to do; this is the golden rule for acquiring the habit of doing your duty without pain.”