The First Step is the Hardest Part

Last Monday, I took the whole day off work. I turned off my computer after making just a couple of phone calls that couldn’t wait, and didn’t respond to any emails or work on any client matters for the rest of the day. Instead, I tackled all the projects that I’d been setting aside for weeks.

My to-do list included tasks such as cleaning out closets and my pantry, culling through clothes and toys my children have outgrown, changing the hardware on some of my doors, and contacting my insurance company to figure out why my premium wasn’t being automatically drafted even though I had filled out the necessary paperwork.

Unpleasant, right?

And that’s why I kept procrastinating. My life is busy. The last thing I wanted to do with my scarce free time was deal with chores like these. Going to my sons’ baseball games, shopping with my daughter, enjoying the great weather, and entertaining friends seemed so much more appealing.

Unfortunately, my to-do list kept growing. And worrying about these dreaded tasks were weighing heavily on me. So I took the first step and just got started. And guess what?  By the end of the day, I had crossed off all but one of the items on my list. Despite dreading many of these tasks for weeks (some for months), it turned out that getting started was the hardest part.

How about you? What tasks have you been setting aside?

If you’re like most Americans, you’ve probably procrastinated on getting your affairs in order. Statistically, about two-thirds of Americans don’t have even basic estate planning documents in place, such as wills or powers of attorney. After all, there are few tasks that seem more unpleasant. The process forces us to confront our mortality and consider heartbreaking subjects like who will raise our children if tragedy strikes.

So it’s not surprising that many of us procrastinate. We reason that time is on our side; that death and incapacity are something only much older people have to deal with. And we resolve to consult a lawyer next month, or next year, or after the new baby is born. Unfortunately this leaves many families vulnerable in the event of a tragedy.

In a recent testimonial, one of my clients said “once we made the decision to invest time and energy into putting our thoughts and desires into words, the hard part was over.”  Taking the first step truly is the hardest part.

Making estate planning decisions may be unpleasant, but they are essential to making sure your wishes are followed and your family is protected. And the process is not nearly as uncomfortable, expensive or time-consuming as you probably imagine it will be.

So quit procrastinating, and just take the first step. You’ll be glad you did.

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