By Colleen Kettenhofen

“Be like a postage stamp. Stick to one thing until you get there.” ~ Josh Billings


In 2010, I conducted in-depth conversations with hundreds of managers to find out what they consider to be the most important traits their people must possess. Among bosses’ top 10 desires in terms of what they want in employees are consistently hard workers and organized, proactive people who practice effective time management. You may already be someone like that. But sooner or later, life happens.

It’s easy to become preoccupied with procrastination. Sometimes this results from perfectionism, not laziness. I have a feeling you can relate. As you know, a correlation often exists between procrastination and perfectionism. If you’re like me, you think doing anything at all requires doing it perfectly.

Or, let’s be honest: people procrastinate because a task is unpleasant to do and sometimes out of deep-seated fears – especially fears of rejection. Unfounded, mind you, but fears nonetheless.

After all, what if you do that “hard thing” and then fail? You learn from your mistakes by looking at them from a new perspective. Adversity arms you with increased wisdom, ability, and experience – not to mention increased self-confidence once you’ve overcome your perceived challenge.

Yes, the key word is “perceived.” Everything depends on perspective. One person’s passion is another’s peril. I love speaking, traveling, and writing books. But for some, the worst career they can think of is giving speeches while having to fly in the sometimes not-so-friendly skies. If you present to people who don’t like your organization or message (thankfully I don’t) it can be more of a challenge not to take criticism personally. And some would recoil from the numbing isolation that can attend the task of writing.

What If You Fail?

If you do fail at first, think about failing forward. Now, we’ve all heard that phrase a number of times. That is, each time you fail, you discover how to do something better than before. Learn to see your failures as stepping stones in your personal progress, like babies learning to walk. The first few times they stumble and fall. But they keep moving forward – both literally and figuratively – until they can walk without thinking about it. Motivational speaker Tony Robbins said it best: “Repetition is the mother of skill.”

Let’s say, in your situation, you receive a less-than-stellar performance review at work. Ouch. Rather than acting out of control, ask how this criticism can contribute to your success. Have you heard similar feedback before from others? That’s a clue. Decide what you must change and focus on that. Keep your antenna up lest you fall back into former habits and face further criticism.

The key to failing forward is humility, hearing what others have to say, and being honest with yourself. Don’t get bitter; get better.

Overcoming Procrastination

Pressing past your fears can dramatically improve your morale, productivity, and value to your employer. Here’s a quick motivational tip to get you up and off your assets.

Pay attention to the 80/20 rule, or the Pareto Principle. You’ve no doubt heard this before, but do you practice it? This principle says that 20 percent of the activities on your to-do list will produce 80 percent of your most desired results. It held true for me in writing, “Secrets Your Boss Isn’t Telling You,” as well as my second book due out soon, “Adopting Joy: Hope, Happiness, and the Healing Power of a Rescued Puppy.” I knew that between my coaching, consulting, speaking, and traveling, I had to make time for writing. Why? I felt compelled to share important information I knew would help people – and until I took time to write, many of my newfound discoveries would languish. On days I didn’t feel like writing, I kept reminding myself of the advantages that would arise as a result of being an author. Then my writing zoomed to the top of my to-do list!

What do you want to accomplish? What are those activities you must do? The ability to identify those tasks and then complete them on time can have more impact on achieving your goals than anything else. Make good use of the 80/20 rule.


“Everything you procrastinate today only compounds tomorrow’s pressure.” ~ Colleen Kettenhofen


This new article is excerpted from Colleen Kettenhofen’s new book, Secrets Your Boss Isn’t Telling You. Colleen is an award-winning speaker, author, media veteran, and devoted animal lover who has presented keynotes and seminars before thousands in 48 U.S. states and five foreign countries. She has conducted more than 1,100 programs on leadership, dealing with difficult people, presentation skills, and change/stress management. Colleen is also the creator of 10 unique audio programs. For more information, or to sign up for Colleen’s newsletter, visit Or, call (971) 212-0479.