by Jim Rohn
Perseverance is about as important to achievement as gasoline is to driving a car. Sure, there will be times when you feel like you're spinning your wheels, but you'll always get out of the rut with genuine perseverance. Without it, you won't even be able to start your engine.
The opposite of perseverance is procrastination. Perseverance means you never quit. Procrastination usually means you never get started, although the inability to finish something is also a form of procrastination.
Ask people why they procrastinate and you'll often hear something like this, I'm a perfectionist. Everything has to be just right before I can get down to work. No distractions, not too much noise, no telephone calls interrupting me, and of course I have to be feeling well physically, too. I can't work when I have a headache." The other end of procrastination - being unable to finish - also has a perfectionist explanation: "I'm just never satisfied. I'm my own harshest critic. If all the i's aren't dotted and all the t's aren't crossed, I just can't consider that I'm done. That's just the way I am, and I'll probably never change."
Do you see what's going on here? A fault is being turned into a virtue. The perfectionist is saying that his standards are just too high for this world. This fault-into-virtue syndrome is a common defense when people are called upon to discuss their weaknesses, but in the end it's just a very pious kind of excuse making. It certainly doesn't have anything to do with what's really behind procrastination.
Remember, the basis of procrastination could be fear of failure. That's what perfectionism really is, once you take a hard look at it. What's the difference whether you're afraid of being less than perfect or afraid of anything else? You're still paralyzed by fear. What's the difference whether you never start or never finish? You're still stuck. You're still going nowhere. You're still overwhelmed by whatever task is before you. You´re still allowing yourself to be dominated by a negative vision of the future in which you see yourself being criticized, laughed at, punished, or ridden out of town on a rail. Of course, this negative vision of the future is really a mechanism that allows you to do nothing. It's a very convenient mental tool.
I'm going to tell you how to overcome procrastination. I'm going to show you how to turn procrastination into perseverance, and if you do what I suggest, the process will be virtually painless. It involves using two very powerful principles that foster productivity and perseverance instead of passivity and procrastination.
The first principle is: break it down.
No matter what you're trying to accomplish, whether it's writing a book, climbing a mountain, or painting a house the key to achievement is your ability to break down the task into manageable pieces and knock them off one at one time. Focus on accomplishing what's right in front of you at this moment. Ignore what's off in the distance someplace. Substitute real-time positive thinking for negative future visualization. That's the first all- important technique for bringing an end to procrastination.
Suppose I were to ask you if you could write a four hundred-page novel. If you're like most people, that would sound like an impossible task. But suppose I ask you a different question. Suppose I ask if you can write a page and a quarter a day for one year. Do you think you could do it? Now the task is starting to seem more manageable. We're breaking down the four-hundred-page book into bite-size pieces. Even so, I suspect many people would still find the prospect intimidating. Do you know why? Writing a page and a quarter may not seem so bad, but you're being asked to look ahead one whole year. When people start to do look that far ahead, many of them automatically go into a negative mode. So let me formulate the idea of writing a book in yet another way. Let me break it down even more.
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