Last week my wife and I were in Acadia National Park in Maine at a little cove along the rocky shoreline. As we entered the cove we saw a young girl standing about where the waves would come ashore. With the arrival of each wave, she would stand her ground with determination, and not move back until the water had actually covered her feet. At that point, she’d scream with glee, run back a short distance, and, when the water had receded, she’d return to the point where she thought the water from the next wave would stop. She seemed to be having a great time, captivated by the surf and the environment around her.
This went on for several iterations, each time with her parents calling her name and suggesting that she move further back so as not to get wet. It was as if the girl didn’t hear her parents, or didn’t care about getting wet, because after each wave she would return to stand her ground. It was cool to see her so engaged in her present environment.
As I watched her I couldn’t help but wonder if this child’s life was being changed in this moment. Was she developing a love with the Atlantic Ocean or oceans and beaches in general? Would this moment cause a desire for her, as an adult, to want to spend time at the beach? Was I looking at a future marine biologist, or someone who will devote their life to protecting our oceans, or perhaps just a young girl who was enjoying the moment?
Regardless, I enjoyed watching this young person being so engaged with their beautiful scene they were in. And just maybe, I was fortunate enough to witness an event that will forever change her life.
We all aspire to great things, but there’s a difference between aspirations and positive results, and that difference is effort.
Most things that are beyond the ordinary require effort to achieve. Whether it’s developing a skill or talent to an extraordinary level or building a strong and sustainable marriage, lacking effort, no progress will be made.
Here’s a quick way to tell how committed you are to achieving extraordinary results in your life:
- Think of something you have wanted to improve in your life
- Ask yourself, “What effort have I continuously made it bring it about?”
If your answer to bullet number 2 is, “Not much”, then you’re not really committed to making the change. You just like the idea of the change, but aren’t committed to putting forth the effort to get you there.
While that may sound harsh, it’s that type of questioning that is crucial if we’re serious about improving ourselves.
So, you know that area of your life that you want to improve? Yes, that area! What effort have you made toward its achievement?
It’s easy to procrastinate when I feel like I have a lot of time to complete a given task. The problem I often run into when I procrastinate is that when I finally start the task, I often feel rushed and like I’m not doing my best work. Yes, many people say they work better under pressure, but from my own experience, that just hasn’t been true for me.
When I wait until the last minute to begin, I don’t have time to consider alternative approaches or solutions. Because I’ve left myself little time for the task, I need to go with the quickest solution I can come up with and complete in a short time. There’s no room to ponder, to consider different options or even to change direction when I have an “ah-ha” moment. The time I could have dedicated to exploring options was instead spent procrastinating.
I’ve realized that I do my best work when I have time to think. This realization causes me to start projects and task sooner rather than putting them off. If waiting until the last minute to start tasks has been working for you, then who am I to tell you to change? But, if you’re a chronic procrastinator, who’s not always happy with the results you get, consider starting tasks earlier. It would be worth seeing if your output would benefit from having some additional time.