Passing Through the Cloud of Procrastination to Action

(Let the record show that I did a fair amount of procrastination while writing this post, but I finally acted and hence now you can read it.)

In the Heroic Yes! Blog, I often write about creating ways to live our dreams by spending more time doing exactly what we want to do.  However, I’ve found that, ALAS, sometimes there are simply things we don’t want to do that seem to be required of us to live the lives we want.  These things can really pester us.

I learned this from being assigned homework in grade school.  I loathed homework and found it an affront to my free time.  But I also wanted to learn, progress, excel, and make good grades.  So I did the homework. (Often after much procrastinating and a minor tantrum or two.  My parents can well attest to this!)

While the last homework I was officially assigned came during my MFA program back in 1998, I realize that even now I still have homework, often in abundance.  I still have things I don’t want to do that need to be done to live the life I want.

You know the things that really engage your procrastination muscle; the things you keep putting off…and putting off?

When we think of completing activities like paying parking tickets, gathering paperwork for taxes, or going to the dentist, we are often more inclined to drag our feet than dance for joy.  We love the results of these activities, having clean teeth and staying on the right side of the law, but the activities themselves often leave something to be desired.

What things do you avoid doing even though you feel that doing them is necessary to achieving the life you want?

From years of struggle around doing things that I feel need to get done but just don’t want to do, I’ve discovered that it’s important to weigh the results of doing the dreaded activity versus not doing the dreaded activity.  When you weigh these results, try to do so with the open mind.  Always remember that you never actually have to do anything. If you like the results of doing the dreaded activity better than the results of not doing it, I encourage you to come up with a strong and joyful purpose for doing it.  Having a strong and joyful purpose for doing an activity you would rather avoid can pierce through the fog of procrastination. This purpose can help you shift from focusing on, “I don’t want to do this” to “I’m doing this because I have a strong and joyful purpose for doing it.”

(The following example seems almost too simple, even to me, but I like it because it illustrates a powerful way to clear the fog of procrastination.)

Say you’re shopping and suddenly you remember that you are parked by a meter and your time is about to expire.  So you leap over people to sprint out of the store only to find the meter three minutes past due and a yellow ticket envelope with a forty-five dollar ticket in it neatly tucked under your driver’s side windshield wiper.

You are mad as can be.  Hasn’t the parking authority heard of a ten-minute grace period?  You first instinct is to deposit the parking ticket in the nearest trash receptacle.

Then you quickly think, “No! I have to pay this ticket.  It’s the law.”

But then with equal speed you think, “Do I actually have to follow the law?  Well no, people break the law all of the time.”

So now you calm down somewhat and begin to contemplate the results of not paying the parking ticket versus the results of paying it.  The results of not paying the ticket are attractive.  By not paying it, you would save forty bucks plus the time of paying it.  This all sounds great, so then you start thinking of additional possible results of not paying the parking ticket, which might include a far bigger fine, eventually going to court, feeling some guilt about breaking the law, and experiencing a high level of stress every time a police officer is driving behind you.

Then you think of the results of paying the parking ticket, which include following the law and getting it over and done with.  The second course of action seems much simpler and like it will bring you more joy in the long run.  So now you have the information you need to form a strong and joyful purpose for paying the parking ticket.

You proudly declare, “My strong and joyful purpose in paying this parking ticket is to make my life simpler and find joy.

(“Proudly”, “strong” and “joyful” may seem like unusual words to use in relation to paying a parking ticket.  But doesn’t the above phrase seem more relaxing and empowering than being as mad as heck about paying a parking ticket?)

In the grand scheme of things, paying a parking ticket is small potatoes.   You can force yourself to quit procrastinating, write out the check, put the darn thing in the mail and be done.  Not that big of a deal, right?

But really thinking about the bigger reasons why you choose to do something as simple as paying a parking ticket and then creating a strong and joyful purpose for doing it can give you invaluable practice in passing through the cloud of procrastination to action.  This practice is great so that when bigger things that you don’t want to do come up, you are ready.

Game of the Day

What is your game plan for the next time you feel like procrastinating?

Jason Freeman is a professional writer, and a one-of-a-kind public speaker.  He is the founder and CEO of Heroic Yes! Productions. Jason has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Nebraska.  He knows the pain of perceiving one’s life through a lens of limitation and also the thrill of moving beyond that mindset.  For more information on Jason’s powerful message, or to book him to present to your organization, go to www.HeroicYesProductions.com

Leave Organization At Home, Return to Organization at Home

The neat thing about personal systems is that they have a structure and a memory so that when we are away from them and then come back home the order of the system is still there.

(I was wide-awake, but you instantly put me to sleep with the beginning of this post.  How does this personal system has structure and memory stuff have anything to do with being interesting, let alone anything fun?)

OK voice in the ( ), do you believe in ease and comfort?

(Of course!)

Well, I’m talking about personal systems because they can create ease and comfort.

For example, your house is a system.  If you leave a clean house and go on a weeklong trip, when you return it’s still clean.  It doesn’t just make itself dirty during the week you are gone.  Your house retains the order you leave it in.  And coming home from a great trip, this organization gives you a sense of ease and comfort, right?

(Yes, coming home to a clean space is nicer and more relaxing than coming home to a dirty one.  I can just plop down on the couch and reflect on how wonderful my trip was instead of worrying about how dirty the house is.  But Jason, when did you become Mr. Better Homes and Gardens?)

Hey ( ), instead of calling me names, pay attention, this stuff could help you enjoy more peace in your life.  Then you wouldn’t feel so inclined to resort to picking on me.

As I was saying, our personal systems retain the order we put them in as long as they don’t get disrupted or flooded with new information.

(Flood!  What flood?  I’m so confused one minute, I’m snoring because you are waxing boring on this personal system blah, blah, and the next minute you are shouting, “Flood”.)

Let me tell you what I mean by ‘flood’.  Say when you left on your vacation, you left organized by emptying your email box.  However, when you return your email box has ninety new messages in it.   So a flood occurs when a system that you left in order, through external change is flooded with new information while you are gone.

By comparison, when you return home, the furniture in your house will have retained the order you left it in, except possibly for a new layer of dust.

When you are gone, your furniture represents a static system and your email box represents a fluid system.

(Static, fluid, kind of catchy Jason!  But what does this all mean for your readers.)

Glad you asked, ( ).  It means that with a focus on creating organization before you leave home, you can return to organization.  When you return to a clean living space, you can really relax and feel the comforts of home.

Then when you are ready to do something, instead of the laundry on the floor or doing the pile of dishes on the kitchen counter, you can attend to bringing your fluid systems like your email and snail mailbox back into order.  This way your fluid systems get reorganized and not more flooded.

(Makes sense, but why are you so keen on this personal organization stuff anyway, Jason.)

I’m so interested in it because for most of my life I resided in spaces I chose to let become highly disorganized.  Now that I live in a home that I spend time organizing on a daily basis I notice that I’m much more relaxed and happier.  And I’ve found that cleaning and organizing is fairly simple, I just have to choose to take the time to do it consistently.

(Well said…Mr. Better Homes and Gardens!)

Game of the Day

How and when do you organize your static personal systems?

How and when do you organize your fluid personal systems?

How do you like to feel when you return home after being away?

What, if anything, could you do to make organizing before you leave home more fruitful and satisfying for you?

Jason Freeman is a professional writer, and a one-of-a-kind public speaker.  He is the founder and CEO of Heroic Yes! Productions. Jason has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Nebraska.  He knows the pain of perceiving one’s life through a lens of limitation and also the thrill of moving beyond that mindset.  For more information on Jason’s powerful message, or to book him to present to your organization, go to www.HeroicYesProductions.com

Five Tips For Vacation Ease

Vacations are awesome!  We look forward to them for weeks or sometimes even years.  The thrill of traveling is exhilarating- savoring new places, meeting new people, having the opportunity to experience new situations, and most of all FOCUSING on HAVING FUN!

I used to think that spending time to stay organized and maintain healthy practices on vacations was too much work.  I was supposed to be on vacation from ordinary life after all!  But I’ve found the opposite to be true, the more I stay organized and maintain healthy practices, the more I enjoy my vacations.

Over the years, I’ve discovered some great tips for staying organized and healthy while on your vacation so that you can enjoy it fully and have amazing amounts of fun.

1. Prepare For Fun: Organize Before You Go

While it can be tempting to put off packing until the last-minute and then run around throwing things in bags, I’ve found that taking the time to pack well really paves the way for having the most possible fun on a vacation.  For example, I find it easy to leave my cell phone charger at home and the last thing I want to do when I’m in Hawaii is be at Wal-Mart at 2 AM asking a clerk what aisle cell phones chargers are in.

To make packing really easy, I like to start making a list about three or four days before I’m scheduled to travel of things I might forget.  Simply put a catchy label on your list like “Items to remember to pack for my blissful vacation.”  Then take ten minutes to write down things you want to pack like, “ten shirts, razor, sunscreen, my laptop, etc.”  Then over the next few days when you think of things that you didn’t remember to put on the list when you first made it, write them down.  After that when you go pack, simply follow your list.

2. Feed Your Fun: Nourish Your Body

When traveling, I have found that I’m very drawn to eating great quantities of foods made tasty by sugar, by frying, and by salt.  Fast food has a special draw because I want to eat fast so that I can get back to seeing the sites (and also because it can taste SO GOOD)!  Unfortunately, after eating too much of it, I just don’t feel good.

So now when on a trip, I attempt to take the time to relish sit-down meals full of yummy, nutritious food, IN ADDITION to savoring the fried, the sugared, and the salted IN MODERATION.

What mix of foods do you want to eat when you are traveling?

3. Be Well Rested For Fun: Get Plenty of Sleep

While vacationing, there’s so much fun to be had that it’s sometimes tempting to stay up until the wee hours of the morning, night after night.  I find this somewhat enjoyable for a day or two, but then I just want to take a nap at inconvenient times like when my tour group would be headed out to see the pyramids.  (And that’s not a story that I would want to tell for the rest of my life – how I was in the hotel room sleeping instead of seeing one of the most amazing sights in the world.)

So now when I am vacationing, except for the rare event, I plan on getting between six and eight hours of sleep a night.

Don’t miss the sights!  How much sleep do you want to get a night to feel your best?

4. Fun On The Move: Make Sightseeing Your Exercise 

This one comes naturally to me.  I always feel much better when I engage in some form of physical activity during the day.  So when I’m in a new place, one of the main things I love to do is explore on foot.   I’ve found that the details of a place, whether it’s a city or a National Park can be best experienced through walking.  I find that when in a car or even on a bike, I’m simply moving too fast to appreciate all the subtleties of the architecture and the vegetation.  (Of course use common sense, and only walk in places where you feel safe.)

Maybe walking isn’t your thing, but biking or running is.  Then do that.  The trick is to incorporate your exercise so that it’s a natural part of your sightseeing.

5. Reenergizing For More Fun: Enjoy The Freedom To Take Breaks

Sometimes when visiting even spectacular places, I’ve found that I can get too much of a good thing.  Maybe I’m walking around a fascinating art gallery.  After about two or three hours, even though I’m loving it, I find I just want a break.

Have you ever had a similar experience of doing something enjoyable and then wanting a break from it?

The solution to this situation is simple.  Just have fun taking a break.  You are on vacation after all!

Game of the Day

Think about your next vacation.  What can you do to stay organized and maintain healthy practices, while at the same time, thoroughly enjoying your vacation?

Jason Freeman is a professional writer, and a one-of-a-kind public speaker.  He is the founder and CEO of Heroic Yes! Productions. Jason has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Nebraska.  He knows the pain of perceiving one’s life through a lens of limitation and also the thrill of moving beyond that mindset.  For more information on Jason’s powerful message, or to book him to present to your organization, go to www.HeroicYesProductions.com. 

On The Days when Opportunities Knock With Overwhelming Force And There Is Just Too Much To Do

Some days the opportunities that other people offer us seem to cascade down on us with amazing force.  These are wonderful days, days when our ship has come in and days of easy abundance.

These are the days when instead of three new clients calling, fifteen call; instead of one job offer you get five; instead of a few friends calling you, twenty call you.  They say, “When it rains, it pours” and on these days it DOWNPOURS.  These are days of AMAZING OPPORTUNITY after AMAZING OPPORTUNITY and there are so many of them, ALL AT ONCE.

We can at once be both VERY APPRECIATIVE of these days AND, at the same time, THOROUGHLY OVERWHELMED!!!   On these days, we often feel like we are spread too thin.   Each opportunity seems to require a certain amount of attention, but we don’t feel able to give any of them the full amount of attention they desire.

Suddenly even though we are surrounded by abundance, we are utterly stressed out, exhausted and miserable.

Suddenly, all these new opportunities don’t feel like an adventure or even a blessing but a very uncomfortable and out of control situation.

So frustrating!  What to do?

OPPORTUNITY OVERWHELM can turn into a huge obstacle because there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in a day for us to accomplish all that we need to accomplish.

The great news is OPPORTUNITY EASE can be CREATED out of OPPORTUNITY OVERWHELM.  I say CREATED because each opportunity comes to us in a certain package.

The opportunities that other people offer us naturally come in an OPPORTUNITY PACKAGE designed by them.  Often included in the opportunity is an idea of how much time we should devote to it and when we should devote this time.  (It’s interesting to note that these specifications are actually part of what makes an opportunity an exciting opportunity, rather than a vague “I want to do something with you someday” opportunity.)  However, these same specifics that make an opportunity an exciting opportunity can also lead to OPPORTUNITY OVERWHELM.

OPPORTUNITY EASE comes when you work with the person who gave you the opportunity to show him or her that you appreciate the opportunity being offered, while at the same time, working with him or her to revise the specifics of the opportunity so that the specifics don’t overwhelm you.

Think of your opportunities as water and your day as a glass.  Say a full glass symbolizes the maximum amount of work you can do in a day while being focused, productive and happy.  Now you want to schedule your opportunities to fill your glass to full but not overflowing.   Over-scheduling will lead to more water than your glass can handle, a mess, waste, and exhaustion.  So the art-form is knowing how full you want your glass on at daily basis and then revising the specifics of the opportunities people offer you together with them, so that your glass is not overflowing or too empty, but filled with just the right amount of abundant opportunities to grace your days.

Game of the Day

How could you create more OPPORTUNITY EASE in your life?

Jason Freeman is a professional writer, and a one-of-a-kind public speaker.  He is the founder and CEO of Heroic Yes! Productions. Jason has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Nebraska.  He knows the pain of perceiving one’s life through a lens of limitation and also the thrill of moving beyond that mindset.  For more information on Jason’s powerful message, or to book him to present to your organization, go to www.HeroicYesProductions.com. 

The Joy of Step Ahead Living

Occasionally, circumstances we find frustrating are going to arise, however sometimes with fairly little effort we can look ahead and predict potentially time-consuming, costly and painful circumstances.  Once we identify these potential circumstances, we have the opportunity to spend a little time taking steps to avoid them, in the same way that if we saw something up ahead in the middle of the road and the other lane was clear, we would simply drive around it rather than into it.  I call noticing potentially frustrating circumstances and taking steps to move around them Step Ahead Living.

This process requires close observation of your life; similar to how when you are driving you pay close attention to the road.

I experienced a vivid example of choosing my circumstances before they chose me a few months ago. This opportunity started off simply.  I went to a car wash and had my car cleaned inside and out.

Then inspired by how clean my car was, I organized the trunk and the center console.  After that since I was on a roll, I decided to go over the top and organize the glove compartment (a historic step for me, if not for all of humankind), thinking that there wasn’t much in there and it would be a simple five-minute job.  What I discovered surprised me.  I found spare car keys, which are now in my apartment where they will be of much more use if I ever lock my main keys in my car.  I also found that my current vehicle registration was missing.  (This missing registration really didn’t impress me and I don’t suspect that it would have impressed an officer if I were pulled over.)

To say the least, in a brief search of my glove compartment, I found big clues that I wasn’t prepared for two potentially time-consuming, dollar consuming and frustrating circumstances.

Step Ahead Living is not about becoming fixated on preventing uncertainty and challenging circumstances in the future.  This fixation can seriously distract from the present and add a great deal of stress to life.  (I say this based on years of unglamorous personal experience.)   Rather, Step Ahead Living is about finding joy in paying attention to your surroundings and from that attention taking steps (which are often simple) to create ease in the future.

Game of the Day

1. Have fun practicing Step Ahead Living by finding joy in paying attention to your surroundings.

2. When you notice a frustrating potential circumstance, think about what steps you could take to avoid or move around this circumstance.

3.  Either take these steps right away or schedule a time to take care of them in a timely manner.

4.  When you notice an opportunity to engage in Step Ahead Living, it can be fun to look at the money and time you potentially saved through preparation.

Jason Freeman is a professional writer, and a one-of-a-kind public speaker.  He is the founder and CEO of Heroic Yes! Productions. Jason has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Nebraska.  He knows the pain of perceiving one’s life through a lens of limitation and also the thrill of moving beyond that mindset.  For more information on Jason’s powerful message, or to book him to present to your organization, go to www.HeroicYesProductions.com. 

What The Heck Cleaning the Bathroom Has To Do With Achieving Your Dreams

Think of your big dreams.  At this moment, what do you have a better idea of how to do?  How to wash your laundry and sort your mail or how to achieve your big dreams?   

Asked another way, which activity are you more likely to complete today, cleaning out your car or climbing to the pinnacle of your career?

We often tend to let the common everyday tasks that we know so well go undone because they can seem to take too much time, to be too boring, to be beneath what we are capable of.

Why fold underwear and clean our shower when we are focusing on being a millionaire?

We could adopt the motto that life is too short to vacuum, dust, clean the windows and take out trash.

Or we could celebrate these simple activities that make our living spaces look, smell and feel so good.

These simple activities also provide us with a sense of accomplishment and a sense that we are capable of ordering and creating our world.

Our dreams involve the same things, ordering, creating, accomplishing.

What would it be like, rather than thinking of cleaning the bathroom as a major drag, if we thought of it as practicing the same skills we need to achieve our dreams?

Game of the Day

What do you get that is of use to you from reading this blog?

How will you apply it?

Jason Freeman is a professional writer, and a one-of-a-kind public speaker.  He is the founder and CEO of Heroic Yes! Productions. Jason has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Nebraska.  He knows the pain of perceiving one’s life through a lens of limitation and also the thrill of moving beyond that mindset.  For more information on Jason’s powerful message, or to book him to present to your organization, go to www.HeroicYesProductions.com.

If No One Is Coming Over To Visit, Do You Clean and Organize?

Or do you wait until you have guests arriving in a few hours and then scramble to shove stuff in closets, under beds and vacuum?

I ask because I used to live in a mess either until I cleaned because someone was coming over or my mess got so bad that I simply couldn’t stand it.

My mom has always been a believer that it’s important to live in clean and beautifully arranged living spaces.  As I was growing up, she also was a firm believer in my freedom, so she let me keep my room how I wanted it, so I often liked to keep my room wild and in disarray.

In what state did you keep your room growing up?

Lately, after decades of living in messy spaces, I notice that I take time to clean and arrange my apartment almost every night before I go to bed.  (Most of my blue pens even still have caps that are on them rather than lost.  This is just plain unusual for me.)

Why my cleanliness conversion?  I think because I first really relished my freedom to live in a messy space and then finally noticed that my life simply is much easier and more joyful when I live in a clean and well-ordered space.

I made this choice not to please others but because it works best for me.

I urge you not to just agree with my choice, but rather to think about the following story and make the choices that work best for you.  This is a brief story about planting blue spruce trees on a hill in April.  (Which sounds like it has absolutely nothing to do with cleaning and organizing, but I find that there is an interesting link.)  Read on and see what you think.

Picture a guy named Kyle planting 50 small blue spruce trees on a hillside in April.  It has been raining for weeks and finally there is a clear afternoon.  Kyle starts out with a clean shovel and digs a few holes quickly.  As mud accumulates on the shovel, it becomes heavier and much less useful.

Now Kyle has a choice: Does he take the time to scrape the shovel off after every few holes or does he continue digging hole after hole as the mud accumulates?

Kyle is confident that he will eventually finish this project whether he cleans the shovel or not.  He knows that no one is watching and critiquing him to make sure that he attends to proper shovel maintenance.  It is just him, a whole bunch of blue spruce trees, a shovel and a hill.

Now Kyle considers that cleaning the shovel isn’t inherently good, and deciding not to clean the shovel isn’t necessarily a bad decision or cause for guilt.  If the shovel is cleaned, it simply works better.  Kyle knows that shovels don’t judge their users for not cleaning them; they just don’t have the capacity to work as well as they could.

So Kyle is up on the hill planting blue spruce trees and finally asks himself, “What will make my life more pleasurable, working faster and exerting less effort with a clean shovel or working extra hard with a shovel packed with mud?”

Each day how do you choose whether or not to clean the “shovels” in your life?

Game of the Day

  1. How does the shovel story tie into the discussion of how we each choose to keep our living spaces?
  2. What are the “shovels” in your life?  How will you decide how you want to treat them?

Jason Freeman is a professional writer, and a one-of-a-kind public speaker.  He is the founder and CEO of Heroic Yes! Productions. Jason has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Nebraska.  He knows the pain of perceiving one’s life through a lens of limitation and also the thrill of moving beyond that mindset.  For more information on Jason’s powerful message, or to book him to present to your organization, go to www.HeroicYesProductions.com.