You polish a tarnished lantern that you bought at a flea market. A billow of smoke comes from the lantern and out comes a genie. Free from two-thousand years of entrapment, a grateful genie promises to grant you a wish. There is a hitch. It must be something that you’ve longed for that was always within your power to do.
When you explore the omissions in your life, you might find gaps that result from procrastinating. Not finishing a college degree program may cap your salary level below what you want to earn. Fear of rejection can result in loneliness. You may feel anxious unless you have a guarantee of success, and you have no guarantee. You can take action to improve. You don’t need a genie to help you. But you may need to probe how and why you hold yourself back.
Practically everyone has a secret, wish. This is something that you truly want to experience, but have put off doing. Maybe it’s learning to fly an airplane, to join a theatrical group, to start a successful business, or to find a loving life partner. If your secrete wish is truly important, then what are you doing to stop yourself from going after what you want?
To help yourself answer that question, follow this nine-step wish fulfillment program. I designed it to help you to stop procrastinating on fulfilling your main unfulfilled wish.
1. Cite your main healthy wish that remains important for you to experience. (This may be your toughest challenge. Even the toughest challenge has simple places to begin.)
2. What do you hope to accomplish by stretching to achieve your unfulfilled wish? (Consider thinking and emotional, as well as behavioral, advantages.)
3. What activities do you normally substitute for the wish that you put off? (Recognizing this substitution process gives you the option of redirecting your actions from diversions and toward making your wish comes true.)
4. What do you tell yourself to justify putting your wish into a locked, bottom drawer? (Example: You tell yourself you will do it when you feel ready, then you wait, and wait, and wait some more.)
5. What emotions do you experience when you think of your wish and realize what you are losing through this omission? (Do you feel a sense of loss, frustration, guilt, insecurity?)
6. What are the short- and intermediate-term behavioral consequences of continuing with this omission? (What do you lose?)
7. What future losses would you eliminate by combatting a procrastination habit that interferes with experiencing your biggest unfulfilled, wish? (Avoiding a problem can feel rewarding.)
8. What positive gains would predictably result from pursuing your dream? (Is it a sense of relief? Do you obtain a concrete advantage? What’s your reward?)
9. What have you tried that you found effective in combatting procrastination where you were then able to follow through on what was important for you to do? (This assessment can give you cues as to what will work for you.)
This program is a start in the direction of you granting yourself your own wishes. That is partially because your answers to these questions open new questions, answers, and directions. For example, how does the “waiting game” work for you? If you feel a sense of loss, how can you turn this into a legitimate gain? If you redirect your actions away from fulfilling your wish, is it because you chose to hold on to a fantasy that if you really tried you would succeed?
There is no magical genie no more than there is any quick fix for procrastinating on going after what you want. By daily picking away at this unrequited wish problem, you can come to see things differently and more clearly than before. You can try different ways to restrain your procrastination impulses and to stretch for your wish by working to experience what you have omitted from your life.
© Dr. Bill Knaus
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