When I was about 9 yrs old my father took me to one of his favorite fishing spots. It was a dam on a river feeding into Lake Michigan. Steelhead (Rainbow Trout) were running in mass and pooling at the base of the dam trying to work their way up the ladder. Not that I knew what Steelhead were at the time.
When we arrived, there were many fisherman already there. I watched in amazement as they pulled fish out, one after another, almost as fast as they could get their lines back in the water.
So I asked a kindly old looking fellow “Hey, what are you using for bait”.
To which he replied “Bait? Kid you don’t need bait, just throw your hook in the water and they’ll bite!”
Don’t Need Bait
I doubt he gave much thought to that advice, but I’ve carried it with me always. When the fish are running, you don’t need bait. You just need to put your hook in the water.
Pretty much the same as Shakespeare said in his play “Julius Caesar” (only a lot shorter and more easily remembered): “There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.”
So where are the fish running for you now? Have you got your hook ready to throw in the water? Don’t hesitate, for who knows how long they will run.
Hey Stig: Your bio has a space ready here for you!
The Daruma Doll: The Figure For Good Luck In Japan
If you spend some time in Japan you are bound to encounter a unique doll – a red, round, humanoid creature that lacks legs or arms. The doll may or may not have eyes while others have some fancy facial hair. If you knock down this doll it bounces back upright and if you are in luck the doll will grant the grandest of wishes.
The Daruma doll represents good luck and perseverance in Japan. Full of symbolism, the origins of the doll are tied to the highest aspirations of Buddhism. Each year, people buy them and eventually burn them to ashes.
Bodhidharma was a Buddhist monk who is linked to the rise of the Daruma tradition. It is said that the monk loved to sit still and stare at blank walls while pursuing enlightenment. However, some accounts say his legs and arms, which were now atrophied, fell off. Other legends give different accounts but this is the one responsible for the current shape of the Daruma doll.
The origins of the Daruma as an object of persistence and luck started in Takasaki. At first, people that visited the Daruma Temple were given an illustrated lucky charm for the New Year that depicted a sedentary Bodhidharma. However, a growing demand resulted in the practice of handing out wooden molds that people could use for making their own models of Bodhidharma using paper mache. This was the origin of a tradition that stands to this day.
Making and Meaning
The Daruma has a circular, heavy unseen base whose purpose is to allow the doll to quickly right itself if tipped over. The significance of the Daruma is hidden in plain sight. The painted eyebrows resemble a crane and the beard that covers the cheeks represents a tortoise, which are both traditional symbols for long life in Japan.
The sides of the Daruma’s face are painted in gold, spelling out the maker’s preferred message of fortitude and good luck. The bearded chin alludes to the pine tree branches. The red lines that mark the upper lip and the nostrils signify the bamboo and Japanese plum tree respectively.
It is believed that the red color of the Daruma originated with Bodhidharma’s penchant for wearing red robes. Measles and smallpox outbreaks solidified this custom. The God of Smallpox had a thing for the color red and people that had sick children used to dress them in red and hang red ropes around their homes hoping to appease the deity.
Motivation And Procrastination
The eyes are the most interactive and obvious characteristic of the Daruma. On their faces, the dolls have just 2 blank white circles. If you receive or buy the Daruma, you will have to paint or draw a black pupil in one eye when you are making a wish. Once the wish comes true you can fill in the other eye. The tradition is believed to relate to the Buddhist ideal of achieving enlightenment, although the Japanese often wish for more mundane things such as getting promotions or passing exams. One theory for why this works is that the unfinished figurine (one eye filled in, the other blank) nags at us each time we pass it, provided it has been placed somewhere we will see it each day and this prompts or motivates us to achieve our wish or goal so that we can complete the other eye. I first heard of these many years ago and this prompted me to create a paper version that recorded the steps to completion, not just the binary configuration of start / done! For me, that did not give any idea of how far along I was with any project or how near to completion. I did like the idea of the uncompleted eye nagging at me each time I passed it, though, that tends to instil a sense of time pressure, which is handy for some people who tend to procrastinate. What I needed was a visual version that not only reminded me I had an uncompleted project (the nagging eye) but also showed how far I had got with it. This is especially important if you ever suffer from “student syndrome” or “it’s not due for ages syndrome”, that’s where you have plenty of time to complete a project if you start NOW but leaving it until the night before will cause panic, although leaving it for a while builds that time pressure that FORCES you to do something.
Variation and Configuration
The basic traits of the Daruma remain consistent but there are still variations. Some of the dolls are clad in gold, mainly in a business hoping for financial success. The design details in the facial hair also differ as do the sides and the belly of the doll. Various regions also have further color variations while Goshiki Daruma are sets of 5 dolls all in different colors, and pink Daruma resembling “Hello Kitty” have been spotted at various festivals in Japan.
The Daruma is usually burned at the start of each New Year as with many other good luck items in Japan. The burning often happens on the grounds of the temple where it was purchased.
The Daruma can be found in many places and in different sizes. Watch out for them and check whether both eyes have been filled in. If they have been filled in, it could be interesting to find out from the owner what they wished for.
The Daruma doll is a big thing in Japan since it is a symbol of perseverance and good luck. Now that you understand the significance of the doll in Japan, you probably understand why the Japanese have utmost respect for it. Next time you are in Japan, you should consider getting a Daruma doll and you could get your wishes granted.
We can all fear failure or even just taking that first step towards getting something done, even when we KNOW it will improve things and it can seem easier and less stressful to do nothing, no matter whether we need motivation for finals, motivational fulfillment or whatever. Quite often managers look for ways to motivate their staff, just VERY occasionally we find the staff or a friend working out how to motivate the boss! Here is Don’s story, told in his own words.
I experience this exact same thing. The problem is to be able to get beyond the fear of failure. It is a very hard thing to beat. I even have a fear of trying new things. I own a stamp manufacturing company in Casper Wyoming. I bought it back in 1994. Like most things I do I just couldn’t leave the thing alone. I tinkered and played and did some things that were really dumb, but it all worked out. This story is about modernizing my equipment in order to expand further and faster. I was using a system to make stamps that was a multiple step process. Like five to six steps to get to a workable product. All of the steps were manual, hard to accomplish, and even harder to get right. I had increased the business so much that the stamp orders were falling behind. I was getting close to the maximum I could do with the equipment I currently had.
I had no trouble making the decision that I need to upgrade. I did the research and I knew the equipment I wanted to upgrade to. I flew down to Arizona and met with the manufacturer of the equipment and negotiated a really good deal on the equipment I needed. The expenditure was well over $40,000.00. The equipment arrived at my place of business and I set it all up. AND, there it sat for the next 3 months while I worked like a dog to get all the stamps out in a timely fashion.
You see this new system was a three step system. I could do all of the stamps I currently was doing in 1/3 of the time it was currently taking. But I was still procrastinating for whatever reason. I had lots of excuses. I didn’t really know how it would work. I didn’t know what types of problems I would face using the new equipment. blah, blah blah….. I really just don’t like new things, YET, I really do like new things, I bought it didn’t I. What the heck was my problem.
One day I came to work on a Saturday. There was a pot of flowers on top of the new equipment, they were beautiful, but they were on my new equipment, what the heck. Then I noticed there was a note stuck under the edge of the pot. It said, If we aren’t going to use this thing for anything else, I’m going to put flowers all over it. This was from a friend who had been watching my struggles with the old equipment while the new equipment just got dustier and dustier.
That was like the final straw. I took the flowers off of the top of the thing, dusted it all off, cleaned it and turned it on and just sat down and worked with it. Dang it was fun, and easy, OMG, it was easy! I loved that new equipment. I had to get over my fear of new stuff in order to get going on it.
This was told to me by someone I knew some years ago:
“I know others have told me to lose weight. Even my doctor has told me to lose weight. I thought he said ‘wait, wait’ and I asked, ‘wait for what?’
‘No,’ he said, ‘The problem is W E I G H T! You need to lose weight, not wait for something to happen. Although if you do wait, it’s likely to be diabetes or a heart attack!’
So I have acknowledged that I need to lose weight, well … at least I heard my doctor say that and some of my friends too, but it’s too hard. I’ve tried before and failed. I was hungry all the time. I even went to exercise classes but nothing worked, I didn’t lose a single ounce. Now what?”
Agnes was in denial.
The virtuous spiral can be exited at any point if you choose and denying there is a problem is a choice. You may not think it much of a choice but nevertheless, you have chosen to leave. You may argue that “nothing worked before, so it won’t work now”, or “it’s too hard”, but those, and other phrases are just your body whining because it doesn’t want to have to leave its comfort zone.
Comfort Zone – What Comfort Zone?
Your comfort zone is where you do what you have always done. It’s where very little changes, where you eat the kinds of things you have always eaten, where you refuse to learn anything new because “it won’t make any difference” and where you hover between the fire and the ice, so you’re not too hot and not too cold, even though you may not be truly comfortable there, at least you’re not frozen or burnt. It also includes searching out those “sweet treats” or “allowable sins”, so you can keep your sweet tooth in the comfort to which it has become accustomed.
But NOTHING CHANGES there, unless something is forced upon you. That something may be slowly progressive, like joint pain, creaking knees and increasing breathlessness. They may be brushed off as “Just getting old” but the something could also be a dramatic event like a heart attack or a stroke or a diagnosis of diabetes.
That is what you are choosing when you deny that change needs to be made. Your choice to do nothing does not guarantee that things will stay the same, though they may. Your choice to do nothing ALSO contains the possibility of something dramatic happening to you through your inaction.
Agnes decided to take up a new exercise. She got herself a bike and used it for doing her shopping and travelling back and forth to her part time, local job. She lost her weight, by deciding to find something DIFFERENT to do that would give her more exercise and help her lose weight and of course by USING it. The best exercise or road bike in the world won’t help if it doesn’t get used.
The next stop on the virtuous spiral is to “Question”. You can use this to get yourself out of denial. Ask yourself WHY people (especially your doctor) might be telling you to lose weight. It’s definitely a topic few friends will bring up unless they are very close and concerned about your health. Most spouses won’t mention it either unless they are deliberately trying to upset you or get at you. Ask yourself whether your friends or partner might be deliberately trying to make you unhappy or whether they have your true interests at heart. If you think they are trying to help, then ask WHY they want you to lose weight.
Why Do I Need To Lose Weight?
Only you can answer this. Some of your answers might be:
I don’t have the energy to do my daily jobs, work or housework
I am finding it difficult to climb stairs or get breathless if I move far
My knees or hips or both hurt because of the extra weight being carried
My clothes don’t fit any more and I find it hard to get new ones that fit me
My doctor has told me I have high blood pressure, or I am prediabetic
My doctor or health adviser has said I need to lose weight
I can’t bend down or reach to do up my clothes at the back
A close relative has diabetes or has suffered a major illness because of overweight
I don’t like to have my photograph taken and I wince when I see ones taken without me knowing
So Now What?
If you have provided yourself with some questions, now you need to get the information to answer these, so you have taken yourself on round the virtuous spiral to the next step – get information.
I was picking apples from the tree a few days ago, before the autumn winds turned them all into bruised windfalls. There is something soothing and relaxing about being out in the garden alone, picking the fruit and carefully putting it in a bag or box to store or share with neighbours. Concentrating on fruit picking and climbing up and down a ladder or on a chair every couple of minutes, rather than worrying about other things can give you a perspective on strategies to deal with other aspects of life, without having to think about specifics of any one problem and I realised that I was learning a lot of valuable lessons about life.
When Birds come calling – get picking
One of our apple trees (we have 5) is a magnet for birds. When they start flocking to that tree, it’s time to pick the fruit, before it’s all spoiled by peck holes, letting rot in. The birds are a good indicator that the fruit, especially at the top of the tree, is ripe and ready to eat, even if that lower down is not quite ready.
Life lesson 1
If you have a regular or annual job or even a big job to do, what are the “birds” that can signal to you that it’s time to do something? If you regularly run over on your credit card for instance, maybe an email or letter from your bank should be dealt with immediately, rather than ignored, before your card gets declined. If you try to watch your weight, maybe the “birds” are your waistband getting tighter. Think about what happens just before something has to be done. If you can pick up on those signals early enough, you will have fewer problems.
Low hanging fruit is easy but not necessarily the best
The low hanging fruit is the one you can pick standing on the ground. It’s easy to reach, it’s perfectly edible and probably less likely to have been attacked by the birds, who prefer the fruit at the top of the tree. If you don’t have an apple, then the low hanging fruit is the one to get. On the other hand, it may be smaller and not as red brushed by the sun and a bit more effort, using a chair or stepladder (careful) would get you a bigger, possibly sweeter apple.
Life lesson 2
Should you go for low hanging or the high fruit? How about both? If you are working on the internet, perhaps trying to rank a website, then the low hanging fruit is best to try for first. Get those easy keywords, find the quick sales, get the articles written and posted, because that low hanging fruit is what will lead you to the higher fruit. If you are picking apples on the other hand, it may be best to get out the stepladders and go straight for the high fruit, it is often bigger and sweeter and will provide you with a better return for your effort. Choose what is best for your circumstances – the easy wins or the longer term gains?
Find a Different Perspective To Get The Fruit
When you’re in the middle of an old apple tree, balancing on a chair or stepladder supported by an uneven grassy lawn, with gnarly branches poking at your back, it can be hard to spot all the apples. They may be hiding behind leaves or on the other side of a branch. Getting down from the chair or ladder to view from the ground, or climbing a bit higher can give you a whole new perspective and help you find fruit you had not realised was there.
Life lesson 3
A new perspective is very helpful when trying to solve problems. If you can look at a problem from a different point of view, or from a different angle you may find solutions that were not visible when you stayed in the same place and kept looking in the same areas. Standing back, taking a deep breath, asking for someone else’s point of view are all useful ways of gaining a different perspective. What do you need to take a different perspective on in order to find the fruit?
Find Your Strategy
Placing the ladder or the chair in the right spot to pick apples without getting poked in the eye or risking falling means looking at the situation to decide which set of apples to go for and the safest and best place for the ladder / chair BEFORE climbing up and picking. Looking for the right spot ahead of time gains you the most apples with the least amount of shifting around.
Life lesson 4
What do you need to develop a strategy for? Are you writing a report, finding keywords, researching something, selling goods on a stall, teaching your child to read or digging a garden pond? Each of these would benefit from developing a strategy to tackle it. What is your goal? What is your strategy to reach it? My goal was to make an apple tart! My strategy included first getting the apples.
Is this what people tell you? You’re not committed, you’re not listening, you’re plain lazy? I got all of those, oh, maybe not in those particular words but I knew I was a disappointment to many people. Is this you too? Maybe you keep losing jobs or borrowing money “just one more time”. It’s not too late. You CAN do something about it, if you want. Do you want to change those people’s views about you?
Do You Relate To This?
Have you ever found your mind wandering at school, at college, at work? Maybe you find it hard to concentrate on any one thing? I suffered from this in school. I was constantly being told off for daydreaming and I found it really hard to listen to the teacher, complete my homework or to study for exams. I just could not stay focused on any one task and often the view out of the window was much more intriguing!
Not Reaching Full Potential
All my school reports talk about not performing as well in exams as I did in class and any subject that required a bit of thought and application, such as maths? Forget it!
They Thought I Was Lazy
They all thought I was lazy, so did I. I couldn’t understand why and how I couldn’t do the work. I knew I was as smart as my classmates. My parents would have loved to have seen me do well, they would even have rewarded me financially for it but nothing worked. My classmates told me their parents just told them to “do their best” and they did, mine were constantly disappointed because they knew that what I produced was not the best they thought me capable of. But I just couldn’t get focused on getting the work done. On the other hand, I spent hours in the library, reading fiction and books on all sorts of subjects, which had nothing to do with what I was supposed to be focusing on. I was brought up in the days before the Internet, with parents who believed in “early to bed”. I used to spend the dying hours of daylight hidden behind the bedroom curtains (ruining my eyesight) reading any books available, including medical texts and biology books but they didn’t have anything to do with my subjects at school!
Searching For An Answer
I have been looking for an answer to this for over 50 years! I struggled through a bachelor’s degree and swore I would NEVER read a textbook again. It took me 10 years before I managed to even try an evening class in tourist Spanish and gave up after 3 sessions. But then computers started coming in and I had always wanted to use a computer. This was in the days before the first PC! I managed to struggle through 3 years of evening classes and got a qualification as a junior programmer – I have NEVER used it.
How to Stay Focused
I recently found a program that has actually helped me stay focused on what I want to do. It’s not cheap but I have learned so much from it that I believe it is well worth the price, so I am letting you know about it too. The cost is probably less than some of my friends would pay for a good night out!
Worse Than Me?
It is produced by a man who was worse than me! I didn’t believe that was possible but he explains how he lost so many jobs, he had to end up borrowing the rent money from his mother. His program told me why I was like this and the explanation made sense. It also showed me the reason why, using a great analogy that totally clicked with me and he then told me how to get this to work FOR me and gave me strategies for getting things done. I have now done a lot more of the things I WANT and NEED to do since getting this program, including finally finishing my education!
I have been on many courses in my life and found that if you could get two or three new ideas from them, then attending the course was worth the time and money. Just from the ideas and the understanding I gained, this course has been WELL worth the money and a LOT less expensive than many of those all day or all week courses I went on years ago. I currently have one of his tips sitting on the wall beside me as I write this, to keep me focused.
Get The Program In Ways That Suit YOU
The program is provided in several ways, so you can access it in the way that best suits you. You can get it on videos, as PDFs or as MP3s. All these methods are available to you, you can use them all, mix and match or listen or watch only the ones that suit you. He also provides workbooks for you to work through his ideas and get them to suit you. These are important. They don’t take long to do but they help consolidate what you will learn and understand so you can apply these methods and ideas. There is also support available, which some people make great use of because they may be social learners.
One last thing. The man who produced this program made a sales video about it. I don’t like videos because I am a fast reader but his video was so compelling, and meant to much to me in terms of how he went through exactly the same and worse than me, that I listened for the full 30 minutes, probably a record for me! You can get this program here. Thanks for reading.
A former colleague told me a story one time about a friend of his, a school teacher, who left school early on the last day of the school year to buy wallpaper and paste, so he could decorate a room in his house at a leisurely pace over the summer holidays. Two months later, on the last day before term started, he was rushing to start and finish the job! An example of procrastination at its finest?
Of course, he is not the only one. There are many examples of this type of procrastination and once you have sighed and blushed over these, I will give you Just One tip on how to avoid being one of these stories.
A recent study was run on “procrastination in schools” and the results were remarkable. Over 90% of students suffer from procrastination whether it involves tests, assignments, or exams. This tends to get worse as they grow older and does not fade away. This is often known as “student syndrome”, where the project has been given plenty of time for preparation, so the student puts off starting because they have “plenty of time” but of course, that time slips away. There is a book written for procrastinators in upper school and College for writing essays and even pulling an overnighter but you will need to know the material, unless it is a pure conjectural or fiction type of essay. I wish I had known about this book when I was in school but the author wasn’t even born then. It’s an excellent book and will only take about 2 hours to go through. You can even download it to a Kindle so you can get stuck in straight away. I have read it and used it during my doctoral studies but it is also useful for school pupils writing essays. It is called “Don’t Panic: The Procrastinator’s Guide to Writing an Effective Term Paper” by Steven Posusta.
There are a select few who can overcome this problem and continue to improve as students. The rest struggle and these bad habits continue even into academic life. Some academics in University seldom publish papers in journals (as they are required to do), they just don’t “get round to it”. There is a useful book available for them too, on writing a journal article in 12 weeks, based on a paper or essay they have already written, no matter how poor. Again, this is an extremely useful book but is aimed at academic journal articles in all fields. This book is called “Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success” by Wendy Belcher.
Biggest examples of procrastination?
Does it happen elsewhere? You KNOW it does!
Let’s take a peek at a few more stories.
1) Work Assignments
There is no better example than the employee with a major presentation coming up, and who delays preparing for it. After all, in the US, people are said to be more frightened of speaking in public than of death! You might feel comfortable about your knowledge on the topic and prefer to put off preparing. This happens all the time because people don’t want to do the work. You might know the topic, but is that a good reason to delay preparing? What if there are hitches along the way? Procrastination could lead to serious trouble, and it often does. Remember that old adage – To fail to Prepare is to Prepare to Fail.
Cleaning is another example of procrastination at its finest. People might have spring cleaning around the corner or just a general day where the rooms have to be vacuumed, and the dusting has to be done. Well, they will delay it to a point where the house is a mess, and it is hard to move around. The same goes for those who leave the dishes to the end of the night rather than doing them along the way. This leads to a pile of dirty dishes no one wants to look at.
There is a “Just One” tip below to help with this.
Ever felt like a person was bullying you? What about those were not doing their end of the bargain on a group project? It happens all the time, and certain people put off tackling it because they feel it will turn into confrontation and those repercussions can require further attention which frightens them, so they deny it is happening.
What To Do?
These are all examples of procrastination at its finest. There is a lot of risk attached to putting things off for so long, and it is rarely the right option. So what can you do?
My preferred option is doing “Just One” and I apply it to everything where I am likely to procrastinate. Just One, means exactly that. If I am procrastinating on putting the laundry away, I tell myself, “Just one item” or sometimes “just one minute”. I put away one item as I pass the laundry drier on the upper landing, even if it is only a hanky. It’s only one item BUT, it’s done, it’s away and I can do another one next time I pass. If it’s an essay, then “Just One” might mean “one minute”. I can pin a piece of paper to my noticeboard and write down 5 questions about the subject in that one minute. If someone is not pulling their weight on a project, I ask them for one minute of their time and say what I am doing, then ask for their comments. There is no confrontation and because the intervention happens with plenty of time before the project is due, it gives them a chance to overcome THEIR procrastination.
When you are confronted with a big task that you don’t know where to start, Do SOMETHING, ANYTHING, just do something, JUST ONE. You will feel freer and an awful lot better. That dread in the pit of your stomach will start to lift and you will see a way through to completing it. Maybe not right away but you will find that path towards completion.
Carrying Through a Long Project
If you need to carry through a long project with several steps, you may find this new post on how to stop procrastinating helpful. It includes a visual tool for comparing what you have done with what still is left to do and because you stick it up somewhere you will see it every day, it provides a visual reminder of the undone project, rather like a Daruma doll, only it shows you what steps to take.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.