Eight years ago, one of the nation’s largest publishers, John Wiley & Sons, asked me to write a book about one of The Oxford Club’s investment strategies. I agreed and they paid me a sizable advance.
Unfortunately, I didn’t make the first deadline. Or the second. As the third one loomed, Executive Editor Debra Englander was on the phone. And she was not happy.
Was I going to write the book or not?
I said I was. But when? I was already buried in other research and writing projects, meetings, investment conferences, and trips.
I tried knocking out deadlines early in the week so I could turn my attention to the book later on. Yet things kept piling up, and “later” never seemed to happen.
It wasn’t because I was lacking in enthusiasm. And I had plenty of material for the book. I just felt too exhausted after putting out small fires to tackle such an important project.
One afternoon as I traveled through Italy with a group of investors, I finally conceded that trying to write a book on top of all my other commitments was just crazy. I decided I would return the advance to Wiley and maybe try again some time when things weren’t so hectic.
With me on the trip, however, was Richard Nelson, an Oxford Club Member from Tennessee who had recently published a book of maxims. As we boarded the coach for the airport the next day, he handed me a copy.
I opened the book and my eyes fell on this quote: “There is no shortage of time, only a confusion of priorities.”
I felt like I had been struck on the head with a ball-peen hammer.
If I wanted to do that book, I had to stop wishing I had the time and start making it. When I got back home, I went to war. I put off all nonessential projects. I delegated a few responsibilities to my colleagues. And no matter what was on my schedule each day, it had to wait until I had spent at least a couple hours working on the book.
Within a few weeks, I could see it taking shape. With the excuses gone and a genuine commitment made, I worked at a fever pitch and finished the book in six months.
The Gone Fishin’ Portfolio quickly became a New York Times best-seller, and Amazon chose it as one of its Top 10 Business and Investment Books of the year.
Yet it never would have happened if I hadn’t stopped deluding myself that I would get around to it “eventually.”
Nothing in my life changes for the better until I change something I do every day. I think this applies to virtually every aspect of our lives.
Want to rise in your business? Start coming in earlier, leaving later and learning more about your organization… today.
Need to put together an estate plan for your family? Call your attorney and make an appointment right now.
Want to lose 10 pounds? Throw out the junk food and start eating healthier. Not tomorrow, not when you get “one thing” out of the way. Today.
As Gary Buffone writes in The Myth of Tomorrow:
The very fact that our time is finite makes living precious. When we exclude the recognition of our end, when we lose sight of the real stakes involved, life becomes impoverished. It becomes easier to develop ‘mañana syndrome’ and constantly postpone authentic living. People who presume there is always a tomorrow waste away in unproductive and meaningless jobs, joyless relationships, pointless worries and vague plans for some distant future.
Don’t be one of them.
If you need encouragement, author John Maxwell offers this helpful prayer:
So far today, I am doing alright. I have not gossiped, lost my temper, been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish or self-indulgent. I have not whined, cursed or eaten any chocolate. However, I am going to get out of bed in a few minutes and I will need a lot more help after that.
We create success in our lives by focusing on today. It’s the only time we really have. It’s too late for yesterday – and you can’t depend on tomorrow.
That’s why today matters.