Remember the circus elephant, fellow former procrastinators? When young and small, he is chained to a stake in the ground. At that point in his life, the stake holds him in place. As time passes, the elephant grows quite capable of walking away. He easily has the strength and ability to pull up the stake and take off. However, his mentality continues to be that the stake in the ground holds him right where he is. And so he stays.
Not the elephant’s circumstances, but his thinking holds him back. His trainers have conditioned him to believe he is unable to move away. He believes that delusion. My dad used to say, “’Can’t never could” to point out that thinking we could not do something prevented us from doing it.
This analogy has many applications for those of us inclined to put things off. Let’s consider those times when we’re dismayed, disgusted, or discouraged and feel there’s nothing we can do about a situation.
Ask, “What CAN I do?”
This is a revolutionary question! “What CAN I do?” is encouraging! It results in progress and a sense of accomplishment. It removes a sense of helplessness and reduces the sense of feeling overwhelmed. This question moves us beyond feelings that might control our thinking.
“What CAN I do?” opens my eyes to see one small thing. Doing that thing usually results in the revelation of something else I can do. Sometimes doing one small thing releases a log jam and the whole situation opens up.
I first asked “What CAN I do?” while helping with a jumbled bedroom. I can put shoes in the closet. I can throw away trash. Now, I ask “What CAN I do?” in the office. I’m always astounded to find so many stray items belonging to me and tasks I can handle. “What CAN I do?” when the kitchen looks decent. I see a bag of chips to tuck away, then a towel to hang.
What CAN I do in my job search? I can learn on line how to update a resume. What CAN I do to control my eating? I can make a grocery list of healthy snacks. What CAN I do for that missionary? I can email her personal greetings and ask her needs.
Teaching our children to ask “What CAN I do?” develops a great life skill. “I can pick up the Legos.” “I can speak with a kind voice.”
“What CAN I do?” helps me now while nursing a sprained ankle. This sitting around really cramps my style. But I can write blogs, work on Bible study, make calls, read.
Jesus broke the chains that held us to procrastination. The Holy Spirit lives inside us believers to guide and empower us. We are not chained elephants bound to staying where we are. Besides, since we can pray, we are powerful.
What CAN you do today on some project or situation that you previously thought left you unable to act?