The Most Dangerous Word in The World

Written by Scott August 2, 2010

Don't Wait!

“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”

-Abraham Lincoln

Written by: Scott Dinsmore

Average Read Time: 4 minutes

Words are incredibly powerful. There are some that empower us to do our very best and others that can leave us feeling helpless.

Through my own and others’ experiences I have found one to be more dangerous than any other. On that when used once can give you relief, but when used routinely can leave you with the deepest feeling of despair.

This most dangerous word is: Later.

The scary thing is that it seems so harmless at first. There are all kinds of justifications to put things off until tomorrow. A lot of them can feel pretty valid. And even worse, we seem to use this word most for the things that are of greatest importance to us.

I’m talking about the big goals and life changes we’ve had on our mind for years. We know they are not going to be easy, but we also know the payout could be amazing. Yet despite how much they mean to us, we put them off another day. But tomorrow quickly becomes next month or next year and before you know it your Later has become Never.

Most things we put off to later are because the thought of starting them now is intimidating and uncomfortable. But just about everything outside our comfort zone is good for us, so get used to it. If it feels uncomfortable then it’s likely a sign that it’s the right thing.

Later comes in all forms:

I’ll get to it tomorrow (or next year).

I need to be a little older.

Now’s not quite the right time for that idea.

I’ll do it as soon as my family grows up.

Once I graduate I’ll be ready.

When the new year comes, I’ll begin getting healthy again.

I’ll have all day this Saturday, so that’s when I’ll start.

All I need is another few years of experience.

The list goes on as long as your imagination permits…

Most rationalizations as to why you should put your important things off to another day are nothing more than excuses – and expensive ones at that. If we want to experience our most cherished dreams, we must leave Later in the past. The timing will never be perfect.

4 Steps to turn Later into Now

1. We need leverage.

While financial leverage can be dangerous, emotional leverage can be the most powerful tool in personal change. We need a reason to do things. Without a compelling reason, nothing will get done. The right reason provides the leverage to do massive things even with little resources.

Leverage can come from one of two places. You can focus on the wonderful things you’ll experience if you complete your goal (i.e. happiness, personal freedom, finding the love of your life). Or you can focus on the awful things that might happen if you don’t (i.e. loneliness, a heart attack, or the death of a loved one). Positive or negative, discover what will make it an absolute must to accomplish your goal.

I heard a story of a man who tried to quit smoking for years. His friends tried to help. His wife begged. But nothing worked. Then one day his 6-year old daughter came into his office, looked up at him with a scared look on her face and said “daddy I don’t want you to die”. He never smoked another cigarette. That’s leverage. What’s yours? It could be fitting into your wedding dress or being sure you’re alive to teach your grandson math. It’s your call. Just be sure there is major emotion behind it.

2. Do the big things first.

Start the day with your most important tasks. Know what things are going into it. If it’s making a sales call then pick the phone up before you open your computer. If it’s running five miles, then know that if you don’t do it at 6am, it isn’t going to happen. It’s so easy to start the day by opening your computer and checking email and surfing around for a few hours. Great. Are you any closer to something meaningful once you’re done? Likely not.

I didn’t dig into my email until 4pm today and I got mountains done. Knocking your big things out first will feel amazing and will get you on a roll for the rest of the day. Anything you do now is ensuring that it won’t be put off until never.

3. Chunk it down.

Thinking of a long-term goal as a single item to accomplish can be massively overwhelming. But every goal has all kinds of 5-minute or one-hour tasks leading up to it. Take for example writing a book. If you haven’t yet written a word and you look at your goal one day that says “write a book”, the intimidation is going to make it almost impossible to begin. But what if you had, “write the first page” or “write a few chapter titles” as one of your tasks? That can be done in one sitting. All of a sudden you’re a step closer and you’ve got momentum.

“Most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year, and drastically underestimate what they can achieve in a decade!”

-Tony Robbins

4. Clear the distractions.

It is so much easier to put big ideas off if you have little meaningless things to fill up the time. Email, TV, video games, surfing the web. We all have our distractions and most of us know when we’re wasting time when we should be focusing on the important. Be honest with yourself. Listen to how you feel. Are you proud to be watching an hour go by as you mindlessly surf the web? Often these tasks aren’t even necessary, and they certainly shouldn’t be your priority.

As Tim Ferriss says: Put a sticky note on your desk, right in front of you, that says “Am I inventing things to avoid the important.”

There is only Now

Have you ever been in your future? I thought not. Nothing actually happens later. When it comes down to it, it’s all about today. That’s what changes tomorrow.

We all have dreams we want to make a reality. And as sure as we’ll continue to dream, there will always be reasons to push them to Later. Don’t fall for it. Don’t wait. Life is too short.

It’s so easy to put things off until tomorrow. Later will not be a better time. At some point, if Later doesn’t become Now, it becomes Never. The longer you wait, the closer never becomes.

It takes your whole life to never do something. But it takes an instant to decide to do it today. Why not get started? All it takes is a good enough reason. Now is where it all happens anyway. Later is nothing more than an excuse for inaction. There is always something you can do today to get you closer to your dreams tomorrow.

When is now a good time to begin?

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

-Barak Obama

What important things have you been putting off? What compelling reasons can you find to turn Later into Today? Share in the comments section below.

If you liked this article, please Tweet about it or tell your friends on Facebook using the links below. I’d appreciate it.

Other Articles and Books to Help You Along the Way:

The Power fo Now

Unlimited Power

The Art of Time

Quadruple Your Productivity and Enjoy a Little Life

Photo courtesy of lulieboo
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