"I'll Do It Later" Is Putting Yourself on Course for a Life Unfulfilled

"I'll Do It Later" Is Putting Yourself on Course for a Life Unfulfilled

Do you know what you want to do and then, um, not get around to it? If so, you’re like millions of others who are suffering from “I’ll Do It Later” Syndrome. 

Ok, so I made up that it’s a syndrome, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a problem. It is.  

“I’ll Do It Later” is putting yourself on course for a life unfulfilled.

Yes, that’s a tough statement, but it’s what happens when you choose to defer to tomorrow what will make your life better today.  

I could write this post and act as if I know better than you because I’m an expert who puts every piece of advice to work in my own perfectly put-together life. Me? I never put off for tomorrow what I could do today. (If only you could hear me laughing).  

We all do it.  

I’ve been half way through writing a book for ages.  

Bought a gym membership that I used almost daily until I got sick and… Well, you know the rest of the story. 

My closets are overflowing because I still have clothes in there that I should have given away five years ago. 

Emails from old friends go unreturned because, well, “I’ll do it later.” 

Maybe you have something else in common with me which is going crazy over all the other “I’ll Do It Later” sufferers in your life. It’s the age old “I’m not perfect, but I expect you to be” dilemma.  

My daughter never hangs up her school uniforms after school despite my begging and pleading. No worries, she assures me she’ll do it later (which apparently is some time in 2018) 

I give my husband important dates and to-dos and tell him to write it on his calendar NOW. He will; don’t worry… later.  

We let our lives pass us by and try to control the minutiae in the lives of others both at work and at home. What are we thinking? Talk about a losing proposition.  

Let’s stop here.  

First, let’s acknowledge that some things do get done later. Maybe you do get back to the gym, update your resume or website or whatever it is you’ve been putting off. Thank goodness. 

However, other things grow in magnitude and become less and less likely you’ll ever do it. Why? You talk yourself out of it. 

Book? Eh. Whatever. You’re a crappy writer.  

Start a blog? Too much work. Nobody will read it anyway. 

Take a long vacation? I can’t afford to be out of the office for two weeks. Things would fall apart.  

It’s ugly. Dreams shattered and we justify giving up on ourselves through our well-cultivated arguments. We put ourselves down, push ourselves into a corner and voilà. No need to ever get around to doing it later. It was a dumb idea to start.

Enough. You deserve better.

Related: Can You Be More Successful by Simply Being Happier?

3 Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Beat “I’ll Do It Later” Syndrome 

Start With One

It’s not realistic that you’ll do everything you’ve been putting off right this second so pick one and make progress. It feels great to get into the groove. You can feel habits forming and positive about sustaining your effort.  

If you tried to get into motion on four things at once, let’s be honest, at least two, if not three, would be on the “I’ll do it Later” pile by the end of the week. 

Start Small

Yup, it feels great to be back in the gym, and it’s tempting to get on the treadmill for an hour followed by a weight circuit. We both know what’s likely to happen. You won’t be able to walk tomorrow and the likelihood you’ll get back to the gym in a day or two is slim to none.  

Telling yourself you want to dedicate an hour a day is great, the harder part is doing it consistently. When you start small, you start with what’s do-able. Maybe it’s thirty minutes or even twenty. Don’t talk yourself out of it because it’s less than your vision of what you should be doing in a perfect world. It’s still a change; it’s still positive motion. It’s better to build a habit of small actions than wait for later to take one giant leap.  

Get a Partner 

Left alone, most of us will do nothing today especially given the choice of doing it later. We let ourselves off the hook when we need to stay on it.  

Partners can pester you, hold you accountable for check-ins or motivate, encourage, and support you. You have to decide what you need from your partnership and ask for it. Make it formal and regular. Casual accountability is simply feeding your “Ill Do It Later” syndrome. 

If there are things in your life, at work or home, that you’re putting off, again and again, a partner can help to propel you forward. You may choose to work with a coach to figure out what’s holding you back, a friend who’s willing to give you a loving push or mastermind where you report on goals and progress. Whatever works for you, decide, and get a partner.  

Change is never easy. It’s uncomfortable but even worse than the discomfort of action that takes you into the unknown, is looking back on your life and thinking “I wish I did.”

Alli Polin
Personal Development
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Alli Polin, CPCC, ACC, is a former senior executive with deep experience in leadership, change management, and organization development. Now a writer, coach, and speaker, she ... Click for full bio

Most Read IRIS Articles of the Week: March 19-23

Most Read IRIS Articles of the Week: March 19-23

Here’s a look at the Top 11 Most Viewed Articles of the Week on IRIS.xyz, March 19-23, 2018

Click the headline to read the full article.  Enjoy!

1. Multi-Factor or Not Multi-Factor? That Is the Question

Let’s pretend you are a US investor that wants to deploy some of your money overseas.  You think international developed market stocks are attractive relative to US stocks, and you also think the US dollar will decline over the period you intend to hold your investment.  — Chris Shuba

2. The Lies Spread by Bankers About Cryptocurrencies

I had a chat with The Financial Times the other day, and provided lots of background as to why I don’t think cryptocurrencies are the choice of criminals. The comment that was reported was the following ... — Chris Skinner

3. Alternative Investments? You May Need New Shock Absorbers!

During the tumultuous red and green gyrations of the capital markets this year have your clients anxiously called to ask: “What’s going on with my portfolio?” What do you do when the usually smooth ride in your luxury automobile becomes as bumpy as Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride in the Happiest Place on Earth? What does the average investor do? — Ted Parker

4. Why Fear of Inflation Is Rattling Investors

Inflation is a bad thing, right? It make things more expensive, right? For those of us of, let’s say, a certain vintage, we recall the runaway inflation of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. So why does the Federal Reserve – in charge of managing the country’s currency and value thereof – actually try to create inflation? It’s called the inflation targeting and it matters to your money. — Bill Acheson

5. The Best Retirement Investments for a Steady Stream of Income

As you near your 60’s, your prime earning and saving years will transition into a period of time where you get to enjoy the “fruits of your labor,” a.k.a retirement. We call this segueing from accumulation to decumulation, the period when you will be drawing from your accumulated nest egg. Dana Anspach

6. An Emerging Theme In Thematic Investing

Exchange traded funds (ETFs) are popular vehicles for market participants looking to engage in thematic investing. Thematic investing looks to take advantage of future growth trends, including disruptive technologies. Given that forward-looking approach, stock-picking in the thematic universe is equally as hard, if not harder, than in traditional market segments. — Tom Lydon

7. 8 Winning Questions You Should Be Asking Every Prospect

It’s not enough for your salespeople to be product experts, they also need to be capable of having the kind of conversations that position them as business experts and even strategic resources. — Lisa Rose

8. 10 Steps to Successful Strategic Alliances

Business growth doesn’t come from wishful thinking. As you know, it takes a lot of hard work. The growth of your business is not an option – it is a necessity. Coordinating the right mix of strategies to gain market share and improve client acquisition rates is essential to advance your firm in today’s economy. — Michelle Mosher​​​​​​​

9. Keep It Light: Harnessing Humor for Financial Marketing Success

It’s undoubtedly true that investors’ financial security is no laughing matter, and this is reflected in the stolid, dour, reliable imagery and branding that is, by and large, the industry standard. This is hardly surprising—investors need to believe they’re placing their hard-earned money in the hands of experienced, trustworthy professionals. — Alexandra Levis​​​​​​​

10. Do the Economics of a Move to Independence Really Add Up?

The number one question advisors ask when exploring a move to independence is how the economics compare to accepting a recruiting package from a major firm. It’s certainly a valid concern, because while the recruiting deals being offered by the wirehouses are down, it is still very possible for a top advisor to get a really attractive hard-to-pass-up offer. — Mindy Diamond

11. Four Big Reasons Why Short-Term Muni Bonds Should Excite You

Municipal bonds might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a sexy investment. They don’t typically command news headlines like the stock market or bitcoin. — Frank Holmes

Douglas Heikkinen
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IRIS Co-Founder and Producer of Perspective—a personal look at the industry, and notables who share what they’ve learned, regretted, won, lost and what continues ... Click for full bio