The most common cause of failure, says Michael Masterson, is procrastination. The thief of dreams.

You’re a procrastinator if you have ever said something like…

“I’m definitely going to lose weight this year. I’ll start exercising on Monday.”

Or, “I’m going to reorganize my files just as soon as I catch up on all this paperwork.”

Or, “Once our busy season ends, I’m going to start that side business.”

If you’ve caught the procrastination “bug,” you don’t have to resign yourself to a lifetime of unfinished projects and unfulfilled dreams. Michael has a simple cure: Institute a 24-hour rule for getting started on a goal.

“Whenever I come to the conclusion that I ‘have to’ do something, I give myself 24 hours to take at least the first step toward getting it done,” says Michael.

“I write it down on my daily task list. It’s highlighted in yellow. If it isn’t crossed out by the end of the day as ‘done,’ I cancel all appointments for the following day and commit to doing nothing else. I don’t take phone calls. I don’t read e-mail. I don’t allow people to come into my office for emergency visits. I come in early – extra early – and do nothing else but work on it.”

The 24-hour rule will put an end to your procrastination. And when that happens, imagine all the accomplishments you’ll chalk up, the goals you’ll achieve, the dreams you’ll finally see become reality.

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