May Do-Over: Procrastination Interferes with Fulfilling Our Potential

Happy May 7th and a shout out to my fellow educators during this National Teacher Appreciation WeekI never anticipated WAY back in the mid 1980s-1990s when I homeschooled my four kids for 11 years, that I would now be pursuing a Doctor of Education degree !

So to all past and present educators (and those currently in college or training to become teachers) – whether home school, public school, private school – K-12, college, wherever – or working behind the scenes, which is now my career focus (curriculum development, course writing, etc.), thank you for all you have done and are doing to prepare children and older students to succeed in life!

OK, I am continuing to review my series on procrastination, priorities, and purpose by repeating and commenting on the original posts from last August. For today, the focus is on this concept:

Procrastination can actually interfere with our ability to fulfill our potential!


So what does procrastination have to do with fulfilling potential–or not? Well, let’s first define the word potential (thanks, online dictionary); it means “capable of being, but not yet in existence” or “capable of development into actuality.” So the gifts, strengths, and plans we have are capable of existing, but we need to actively develop them into actuality.

A few examples come to mind to make this concept easier to understand:

*We can assemble all the ingredients for a cake next to an empty bowl. They represent the potential for a cake – but until we actively combine all the ingredients according to the directions and bake the mixture in the right pan at the right temperature for the right amount of time – we have unfulfilled potential and no cake!

*Fellow writers should be able to relate to this: We can sit with paper and pens in front of us – or blank Word documents on our computers or laptops – or empty data fields for blogs or content writing – and have all kinds of creative ideas. The potential exists for great articles, blog posts, and even books – but until we develop those thoughts by writing or typing them, they remain unfulfilled potential.

*Here’s an example for fellow quilters: We can choose or create a quilt design, gather up fabric, and even cut out the pieces to make a quilt. We can stand there admiring the design and the lovely fabrics. The potential exists for a beautiful quilt–but until we actually sew the pieces together following the pattern or design, assemble the layers, and complete it with machine quilting or tying, it remains unfulfilled potential and is not a quilt!

When we procrastinate or put off taking the steps necessary to exercise a gift, develop a strength, or implement a plan, we are unable to fulfill the potential inherent in any of those things.

Remember, the word potential means “capable of being but not yet in existence” or “capable of development into actuality.” Here’s  another explanation or example to help grasp the concept of potential:

Potential cannot manifest without form. Like concrete, it must have something to be poured in to, something to give it shape and make it useful.

To develop potential properly, you must have a plan and pray over that plan; you must have a purpose, and you must be doing something.

If you want to see your potential developed to its fullness, don’t wait until everything is perfect. Do something now.

Start laying your hand to whatever is in front of you.”

Joyce Meyer

This line in particular addresses how procrastination can interfere with potential: “If you want to see your potential developed to its fullness, don’t wait until everything is perfect. Do something now.”  To me, this speaks of taking those “baby steps” toward accomplishing a goal and fulfilling potential.

Just as a baby doesn’t immediately walk after birth, but instead goes through a series of steps and growth stages, we can’t expect to reach our full potential without taking the necessary steps in the right order. If we procrastinate and delay taking a first step, or any step along the way, we likewise impede our forward progress toward reaching and fulfilling our potential.


[REMINDER: This series is a work in progress; it is also a bit of a personal journey, combining a confession of a recognized character flaw and ongoing struggle, with a strategy to overcome this weakness. It is my hope that by sharing these sometimes painful revelations, others who stop by to read will find some inspiration of their own to overcome their own areas of procrastination or other character flaws].


A year from now you may wish you had started today. 

~Karen Lamb

So what do you think? Do you recognize areas in your life where procrastination trips you up from striving to reach your potential?

May Do-Over: Procrastination Is Being Unwilling to Finish What You Started<< >>May Do-Over: Dangers of Procrastination

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13 comments to “May Do-Over: Procrastination Interferes with Fulfilling Our Potential”

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  1. Jenna I - May 7, 2014 Reply

    My favorite writer, Pratchett, says “too many people say they want to write when they really want to have written.” I have this problem all the time. The more I know about the end result of my project, the harder it is to compel myself to do it.

    Right now I have stories that are fully formed in my head that I can’t get out because I already know them, so it’s tedious to create them. So to some extent I think my procrastination is due to my need for instant gratification: I want it to be do be done now and I can’t get over that part of my brain that is telling me, well, if you want it done, you need to start doing it! The back of my head is just whining, but I want it done noooow.

  2. Karen - May 7, 2014 Reply

    Thanks for the reminder Karen. I am so guilty of procrastinating it isn’t funny. I think I can come up with a few excuses WHY but what I think it boils down to, for me, is pure laziness. I know what I should do, need to do, want to do, it is just doing it <3 I am a work in progress and I will get it right

  3. Ken Weliever - May 7, 2014 Reply

    Excellent post! I believe it was John Maxwell that once said something to the effect that we all procrastinate. But the one who procrastinates the least, has the potential to more successful.

    I have found when I use my Franklin Day Planner and write down my daily task list, I am more efficient and overcome most of my procrastination.

    Thanks again for a wonderful reminder and a well written post
    Ken Weliever recently posted..Gene Robinson Divorces “Husband”

  4. Marilyn Thompson - May 7, 2014 Reply

    Excellent point! We are all full of potential but few take action.
    Marilyn Thompson recently posted..Choosing Your Words

  5. Marya - May 7, 2014 Reply

    Great post – thanks for sharing!!
    Marya recently posted..Honey Cinnamon Paneer & Pear Crepes for Meatless Monday

  6. The Great Gordino - May 7, 2014 Reply

    Great post! I am finding that setting a timer for one hour sessions is a good way to get over procrastination as it forces me to take actioin, which breeds its’ own momentum.
    Happy Teacher Appreciatioin Week!
    The Great Gordino recently posted..Ray Harryhausen – Goal Achievement At 24 Frames A Second?

  7. Ed Herzog - May 7, 2014 Reply

    I have some definite procrastination issues. I know that the internet is definitely a cause/factor. When I was in psych grad school (pre-internet days), I was much more focused. Of course I can still be focused but I normally need some sort of external pressure.
    Ed Herzog recently posted..The Purpose of Work

  8. Alana - May 7, 2014 Reply

    My husband and I both are procrastination experts. We are experts in doing anything except what we need to do – until we get close to a deadline. If I wrote a blog post on procrastination, it would probably serve as a type of procrastination for me – trying to escape something else I need to do. So right now, I am going to do something I need to do instead of reading blogs!
    Alana recently posted..Spring Things – Spring Things Are Made of This

  9. Sojourner - May 7, 2014 Reply

    Great post! I think I’m finally getting better at beating procrastination. It’s such a tricky trap.
    Micro-lists help me prioritize and focus. The television has to go off and I have to unplug my internet connection. If only there were a way to unplug my two year old 🙂

  10. Stephanie L. - May 7, 2014 Reply

    I admit, I am a procrastinator, particularly when I am feeling uninspired. Those blank pages and Word docs are almost as frightening as those that are filled with articles that still need to be written…

    Although, I do think that potential must be manifested, it has to have a place to seed and harvest itself beyond a physical form. Setting intentions and self acknowledgement of that potential seems to help get me off my keister! Great piece!

  11. Sophie Bowns - May 8, 2014 Reply

    I love your excellent point and wise words. I’m procrastinating at the moment. I have bathrooms to clean, but instead I am reading other people’s blogs!
    Sophie Bowns recently posted..Teddy-Chapter 7

  12. Ana - May 8, 2014 Reply

    I am good at putting off things like getting fitter and dieting by having the idea in my mind that it is something I can do any time I want – the potential is there. But somehow tomorrow becomes next month and then next year. I need to fix the idea of “do something now” in my brain!
    Ana recently posted..Marriage Tip: Are You Doing Too Much?

  13. Misty Spears - May 9, 2014 Reply

    Wonderful post. I need to send the comparison of writers to my husband who is the biggest procrastinator when it comes to writing!
    Misty Spears recently posted..Comparing Yourself to Others – It’s All Apples to Oranges

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