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Tips for overcoming procrastination - Raise your expectations

Many people believe they cannot change. "I yam what I yam," the cartoon character Popeye habitually explains. Before any change can happen in your life, you have to believe that a transformation is possible. There comes a time when we must say: "I am willing to change."

Beware of mental locks. In A Whack on the Side of the Head, Roger von Oech offers a list of what he calls "mental locks." To break free of a life of procrastination and mediocrity, we must guard our minds against thoughts that destroy our expectations of success. This quiz will help you identify areas where you can take concrete action to change your attitude. Answer "yes" if you have ever thought or said the following:

- I've never been a creative person.
- Stay where you are until you have perfect visibility.
- Follow the rules.
- Please be logical!
- That doesn't sound like the right answer.
- Please be practical about this!
- Avoid making mistakes at all costs.
- If this doesn't work, I'll look like a fool.
- That's out of my area of expertise.

Choose one of your "yes" items and reflect on the last time you said or thought it. Did thinking or saying it cause you to procrastinate or give up? Our thoughts and words influence the outcome of our efforts-what you say is what you get.

Even a simple quiz like the one you just took can be a great opportunity to improve your ability to make things happen and get things done. Don't expect to change your attitude by rushing through all the points at once. Work on one thing every day until people ask you what happened. When others start to see a change in your attitude, you'll know that you're winning the war against procrastination.

It starts in your mind. When you have a total determination to get things done, you tap into unused capabilities you never knew you had-abilities most human beings never use. When you expect to be successful, you jump at the opportunity to do the very things that used to cause you to procrastinate.

Never lose your sense of humor. The great nineteenth-century Scottish physicist, James Clerk Maxwell, was told by his superiors at Cambridge University that he would be expected to attend a compulsory church service at 6:00 a.m. "Aye," Maxwell said, "I suppose I could stay up that late."

Always remember to beware of the mental locks that threaten to keep us in a vicious circle of procrastination and defeat. Make up your mind to rise above the level of mediocrity-give yourself a whack on the side of the head and do it.


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