post written by: Marc Chernoff

How To Avoid The Biggest Mistake
You Always Make


There are plenty of ways to sabotage your personal goals, dreams and desires.  Procrastination, however, is the number one killer.  Procrastinators self-destruct.  They hinder their own potential by placing colossal road-blocks along the path to success.  In other words, they subconsciously choose to fail.

Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.
- William James

#1)  Beware of Perfectionism

“It’s almost perfect… but not quite there yet.  Just a few more tweaks next week.”

Sound familiar?  Perfectionism stirs procrastination.  It’s one of the easiest ways to blindly justify the act of putting things off.  When you’re knee deep in preparation, it can be difficult to decide when to stop “preparing” and start the process of actually “doing”. 

Remember, the state of perfection is an opinion.  Trying to verify that everything is subjectively perfect will paralyze you 100% of the time.

#2)  Start Right Now

The best way to know if you’re ready is to start right now.   Then, if something isn’t working properly, change it.  That’s the beauty of progress.

When I started my first side venture a few years ago I wasted a great deal of time waiting for the ideal moment, to get things just right, instead of spending more time on actionable steps to move my ideas forward.

Are you waiting for success to magically blossom like I was?  Hoping that the stars will align and present you with the perfect moment to act?  Guess what?  No moment is better than this moment, so start now!

The only way it will happen is if you make it happen.  So setup your goals, map out the necessary steps and start knocking them off one at a time.  You’ll be amazed by the power of momentum.  Once you start, it’s hard to stop.

#3)  Complete 3 Simple Steps Everyday

At first glance, some tasks may seem mind-numbingly overwhelming, thus discouraging you from taking action.  The solution is to break down complex tasks into simple, logical steps.  I’ve said it before, take one bite of the elephant at a time.

The key to success is the sum of 3 steps a day.  Dedicate yourself to completing 3 simple steps everyday that bring you closer to your goal.  That’s it.  It may only be 3 steps today, but you’ll complete 21 steps by this time next week and 84 steps by this time next month.  The more you get done, the faster you’ll go, the easier it will get, and the closer you will be to your desired end result.

Bottom Line

Your life is short!  Don’t waste it in a state of procrastination!

Photo by: emdot

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  • “Perfectionism stirs procrastination. It’s one of the easiest ways to blindly justify the act of putting things off.”

    i love these lines. I never looked at it like that, but it makes perfect sense.

  • “Perfectionism stirs procrastination. It’s one of the easiest ways to blindly justify the act of putting things off.”

    Either consciously or subconsciously, I do this all too often. A great stumbling block many.

    Well thought out post. Thanks for sharing it with us! Eric.

  • Great advice Marc. In a previous job with the largest lumber dealer in the state, I was the point of contact for 26 outside salespeople and had to place all their special orders. My motto was Do It NOW. If I waited just a few minutes, there was so much continual information flow that I would get behind and eventually forget! Do It NOW has helped me in a lot of ways since then, too.

  • While I agree that procrastination can be a killer to productivity - I think that overall society is a little to eager from time to time to get things done. Maybe if we aren’t working vigorously, we are sorting out things mentally or healing or resting. I think that the off time is just as important as the on time and pressuring yourself to be productive 24/7 is no way to live.

  • I would add that you can avoid mistakes all together by not thinking of them as mistakes, but rather learning opportunities. Our failure provide us with such great experience they shouldn’t be seen as a loss at all.

  • @All: Thanks for the kind words. ;-)

    @Ron: There’s little doubt that a “do it now” philosophy works wonders for personal progress and the achievement of goals. Thanks for sharing your story.

    @Jen: I agree. There is a time for work and a time for play. However, if you are playing when you should be working or working when you should be playing… you are procrastinating.

    @John: Yes. I think you should always learn from your mistakes. Conversely, the mistake of procrastination sometimes slips under our radar. The only way to learn from it is to stop procrastinating.

  • Wow. This is EXACTLY what is keeping me from living. Thanks for writing this. Peace!

  • As a lifelong procrastinator, I realize I am doing it, and I still do it! It is frustrating not being able to finish most things I do. It makes sense to “just do it”, but haven’t been able to get to that point.

  • A few typical reasons why we procrastinate is because we either wait for the “right” mood or the “right” time.

    I do this specially with boring tasks :-0)

  • Procrastination has evolved just as fast in our minds as the tips to solve it. One time, I procrastinated by thinking of ways to overcome procrastination. In the end, my work is still there unfinished, not much progress with the anti-procrastination tips :)

  • When I decided to procrastinate my self growth no longer, I was amazed by the shifts that I went through. I’ve never been happier since. Bottom line is that if it is important enough, don’t delay!!

  • I find that it is best to ’strike while the iron is hot’ … I can edit later as needed. Usually editing IS needed … but by then I have something TO edit.

  • @Bill and Evelyn: No doubt about it… don’t hesitate… strike now! That’s how things get done. Thanks for the thoughtful comments.

  • […] for ExcellenceHow To Avoid The Biggest Mistake You Always Make4 Good Reasons to Stop Thinking the World Revolves Around […]

  • I was procrastinating by reading your blog on procrastination (he he). I hadn’t procrastinated long enough so I read 30 books to read by age 30. Great list of books. It make me sad, however, to see that not one of them is written by a woman.
    Well enough procrastination!

  • Don’t delay things you want to do, plan and do it right away.

  • Procrastination kills more people than drugs.

  • Perfectionism is one reason people often procrastinate. There are also a myriad of fears related somewhat to perfectionism that create barriers for people; fear of failure, fear of success, fear of rejection; fear of not being good enough.

  • When I feel like procrastinating I use the 10 minute rule. Acknowledge, “I don’t feel like doing that,” but do it for 10 minutes anyway. That gets me over the hard work of initiation. After being involved in the activity for 10 minutes, then I decide whether to continue. Once I’m involved, it’s easier to stay with a task. Succeeding at a task does not require that I like doing it.

  • @Judy: LOL. Hopefully it was worth it. ;-)

    @johnlazy: That’s a motto to live by.

    @Raymond: Well stated. Procrastination kills time. Time is life.

    @Bonnie: I agree. Fear is the worst form or procrastination. Thanks for the insightful additions.

    @Valeria: Well begun is half done. The 10 minute rule is a keeper.

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  • Thanks for all the sharing here. I think to avoid biggest mistakes is to think about it more than twice and what would be the implications of such actions.

    Seek guidance from others especially from God. Do not just follow your heart or feelings but you still need to consider it for your own ghood or happiness. Be realistic!

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