You Always Think You Have Everything Under Control… Until You Don’t (How Ignoring My Procrastination Almost Spelled Disaster)


John Hamilton here, and I’m writing this as someone lucky to have a roof over my head and to be sure I’ll actually have enough to eat tomorrow.

Growing up in a blue-collar family, I always had a healthy work ethic and go-get-‘em attitude. I knew there were no shortcuts to success, as I’d watched my parents work their tails off to raise me and my two sisters. I didn’t exactly set any academic records in high school, but I was no slouch – that is, when I bothered to apply myself. Truth be told, I was much more interested in sports and other activities than I was my schoolwork.
One thing was for sure: I didn’t see myself going to four years of college after twelve years of schooling. I wanted to get out there and make my mark on the world.

After working construction out of high school and seeing my parents put in thousands of hours of hard work that largely benefited their bosses and those above them on the food chain rather than themselves, I was determined to be my own boss. Going into business for myself seemed like the most logical option to eventually raise a family of my own.

I had always had a good head for this sort of thing since I’d been mowing lawns and doing light landscaping in the neighborhood from the age of 14. So, I figured I could build on that and carve out a niche for myself around town as the go-to guy for that sort of thing and use that as a foundation to expand into more specialized areas.

Sounds like a plan, right? Well, as you know, going into business for real – beyond a teenager’s part-time gig, requires forethought, planning, and completing the proper paperwork in the proper way. That’s where my problems began.

See, when it came to plugging away at paperwork, I had a bad habit of waiting till the last minute to get it done. Whether it was pulling an all-nighter to finish an English paper or scrambling to make a registration deadline, I could be counted on to get it done just in the nick of time. My parents and teachers all counseled me that this would come back to bite me one day, but I blithely ignored them and continued going through life confident that I could always squeak through somehow.

Taking Care of Business

So, when it came time to get my business off the ground, things started out normally enough, for me, that is. I couldn’t afford a lawyer to do all the paperwork involved, so I got online and researched what I would need to do to create an LLC and do all the things that need to be done to start a business. Meantime, I was still working construction every day. Combine working a strenuous job and having to complete a mountain of paperwork – some of which I didn’t entirely understand – and you’ve got a perfect storm for procrastination. I didn’t care about dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s; I just wanted to stop working for the man and start working for myself.

So, that’s exactly what I did. By then, I had some friends who I knew were reliable, so even though I didn’t have a registered LLC to limit my liability, Hamilton Lawn and Landscaping began operations. I figured I’d finish up the rest of this piddling paperwork as I went along.

But of course, once I started operations, I was even busier than I had been working construction. Further, I was responsible for my team getting paid. Finding work wasn’t the challenge; I was relatively well known in town and did good work, so word quickly spread. The problem was finding enough time in the day and the week to do everything that needed to be done, and as you can imagine, that paperwork was at the bottom of a long list.

Just One of Those Things…

The price of procrastination really came home when my buddy stepped in a hole and fractured his tibia and fibula. One of those things that can happen to anyone, except it happened on the clock, which made me liable. In short, because I hadn’t finished setting up my corporation and insurance, the 30+ thousand dollar medical bill was mine to pay. Worse, this alerted the State that I was running a business without a corporate license. This gave them the right to seize my equipment and shut me down unless I provided the required documentation forthwith.

So, not only did I have the hospital coming after me for unpaid medical bills; I had the State ready to literally come in and take away my equipment in a matter of days. My parents had just retired and moved out of town; no way was I asking them for help getting me out of a calamity that I had created all on my own. Meanwhile, I had let down my friends who were counting on me to pay them their share. All this was happening because I couldn’t be bothered to submit some paperwork!

Out of The Fire

Fortunately for me, one of our clients was a guy named Ralph, an attorney who specialized in small-to-medium businesses. With his help, I was able to settle with the hospital and give the state what it needed so at least they wouldn’t shut us down. His price? I had to present him with a plan that detailed how I would comply with business regulations going forward. Just telling him I would be more careful wasn’t going to cut it.

This forced me to confront my procrastination head on. But this is something I’d been doing since as far back as I could remember. I had no idea how to go about changing my mindset so that something similar wouldn’t happen again and put it into a form that Ralph would accept.

Then, I stumbled on a website that seemed like it was built for someone like me. It asked a bunch of questions about my approach to life which directly exposed my continuous procrastination in certain situations. It was called Virtue Map, and before I knew it, it had created a custom plan designed to help me to change my mindset to one that precluded procrastination. This was the closest I’d ever come to defining in black and white why I was the way I was, so I showed it to my attorney.

Ralph had his doubts that what I presented to him would really be enough to overcome my toxic habits, but he basically ordered me to give it a go, or else. Far from an exercise in futility, the Virtue Map plan involved completing tasks that actually had a direct affect on my daily life.

In just 15 or so minutes a day over the course of a little more than two months, I was able to replace my old, arrogant mindset that had led me to where I was with a much more mindful point of view that left no room for procrastination.
For some of us, like Ralph, this kind of thing comes naturally. But if you’re like me, this will open your eyes to a much more efficient approach to life that will serve you well no matter where you are now or where you want to be.
If it could change my outlook – someone who always thought I could handle anything – it can help you.

First thing’s first: Click below to take a short quiz to create your own custom plan to crush procrastination. Take it from me, you’ll be glad you did!

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