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I thought I would break.

I felt overwhelmed. Over my head. I thought the pressure to deliver on my own promises would engulf me.

I don’t even remember what I was working on at the time. All I wanted to do was curl up in bed until everyone forgot about me and what I said I’d do. Which would never work, because the only person who was actually tapping her foot and demanding more results was me.

That night, I attended a party where we were all instructed to write notes of encouragement to our future selves. The party organizer would return our letters in six months time.

Frankly, it all felt a little hokey to me, but I played along.

Here’s what I wrote:

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You’re stuck. Again.

You’ve been trying to make yourself work on that book/your fitness/decluttering the house for what seems like ever, but the harder you try the harder it is to resist the siren call of Facebook or Twitter. Before you know it, you’ve run out of time — and steam.

Funny, isn’t it, how much work it is NOT to do the work we’re resisting? It’s exhausting. If you had just put all that time and energy into your goals, imagine where you would be by now.

But you know that. It’s not as though you don’t beat yourself up about your procrastinating ways every day. How’s that working for you?

Don’t feel bad. We all do it.

Why do we resist? Because there is something we fear about the task at hand.

It could be as simple as a fear of the aches and pains of starting to exercise or the discomfort of doing a chore we dislike. It could be as obvious as a fear of failure. Or it could go deeper than that, like a fear of success.

Well, good news: I have battled procrastination all my life and in the process, I picked up a few tricks.

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You’ve wondered, right?

You thought setting and achieving big goals would make you feel better, happier. If we’re being honest, maybe even a little invincible.

There’s more to it though. Behind the thrill of setting big goals is also a little anxiety. You don’t talk about it much, but there’s that nagging voice. What will people think of you if you fail? What will you think of yourself?

It’s exactly that fear that keeps you head down and focused. You want to land that dream job. You want to finally pay off your debt. You want to lose fifteen pounds so you aren’t embarrassed to wear shorts in the summer.

You worry that any distraction, interruption, or lack of discipline is going to send those goals down the drain, never to be seen again–and your chance at a better life will disappear with them.

So you turn down invitations, but stay up late. You eat junk food to get you through the days you feel worn down. You’re crushed by all the things you feel need to be done that just aren’t making your list.

At some point, you might stop and wonder: is it worth it?

Congratulations. That’s the first step.