Thursday, November 23, 2017

Procrastination: What Motivates Getting Things Done?

Procrastination: What Motivates Getting Things Done? by Damond Nollan

Hi, my name is Damond Nollan and I am a procrastinator.

Yes, you read that correctly. I often delay tasks until the very last possible minute. From as far back as I can remember, there has always been a strong urge to put off homework, chores, taxes, projects, home repairs, and even getting dressed in preparation for the day. It's systemic and it affects just about every area of my life.

Despite the negative connotation associated with procrastination, I still get things done. Ok, before you try and poke a hole in that statement, I will be extremely transparent and reveal that I have yet to finish my doctoral degree. Oh, and if you're my girlfriend, I am very aware of the endless list of tasks that I still haven't completed, like adding all my many books to the four bookshelves you bought last Christmas.

In my mind, I know there are a trillion things that I have to do, but instead of worrying about everything and carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders, I focus primarily on what's most important now. What has to be done today? Better yet, what has to be done right now? If I have time to finish it, then it can wait.

Procrastinators vs. Anti-Procrastinators

When I compare my style of task completion to that of a co-worker, I feel like such a slacker. This particular individual begins work the minute she learns about a task. She almost always finishes the assignments first, which tends to ultimately influence how the rest of us complete our contributions.

In my personal life, my girlfriend, much like my mother before her, always wants me to do stuff right now. "When are you going to finish cleaning your room?" She would inquire. "Soon!" I would reply. At this point, you can replace "cleaning your room" with just about anything and it will resemble what an anti-procrastinator would ask. Here are a few more examples:
  • When are you going to file those important papers?
  • When are you going to call the company and ask for more details?
  • When are you going to hang those new drapes I bought?
  • When are you going to clean the garage, paint the girl's bedroom, organize that closet, and get rid of all that junk?
  • When are you going to call the repairman and get the washing machine, refrigerator, sink, staircase, and front door fixed?
  • When are you going to buy a new bed, dining room table, suit, coat, and shoes? 
While each of those things are important, it doesn't require an immediate action. Most of the time, there is still plenty of time to get the issue or task resolved. For open-ended tasks, as in things without a deadline, they will get done when it absolutely has to be finished. Why waste my time and energy doing something that can wait, may never see the light of day, or serves as busy work to satisfy someone else's need for constant change and attention? No thank you! (add boyish smile here)

Bringing in the Big Guns

It was during a recent conversation that I realized how much contention our differences in completing tasks can cause. From my girlfriend's perspective, failure to finish requests within her expected timeframe meant that I didn't care. If it's important to her, it should be important to me. She argues.

This discussion prompted further contemplation around strategies for personal motivation. I always knew that if I wanted my house clean, I would just invite someone over, but how can I apply that same strategy for other tasks? This led me back to a Success Insider podcast episode, hosted by Josh Ellis and Shelby Skrhak, that focused on procrastination. That is where I was first introduced to Dr. Mary Lamia, the author of, "What Motivates Getting Things Done: Procrastination, Emotions, and Success."

What I enjoyed most about the interview was that Dr. Lamia didn't cast a dark shadow over people whose default style is procrastination. In fact, she pointed out that procrastinators are just as likely to be successful as those individuals who get things done early. She even went on to say that procrastinators may even have a higher quality first draft because we ruminate on the job long before we ever take action to complete it.

"Wow! I need to read that book." Says my inner scientist. Understanding motivation would only help me achieve more. Not only that, but I am getting the impression that I will no longer have to walk around in shame because of my default style, but instead can walk around with my head held high as I embrace the natural gifts God bestowed upon me.

If you are interested in reading the book with me or want to engage in a conversation about procrastination and motivational styles, I would love to engage with you. I do have a growing book club on Facebook that you are welcome to join or feel free to comment below.

Either way, I am excited to jump in and devour these 10 chapters:
  1. What Motivates Getting Things Done: An Overview
  2. Deadlines, Deliberation, and Distractions
  3. What Motivates Early Action or Delay?
  4. Anxiety as an Engine for Task Completion
  5. Why You Should Fear Failure
  6. Pursuing Excellence
  7. Relationships and Divergent Motivational Styles
  8. Optimizing Your Motivational Style
  9. Troubleshooting Guide
  10. Looking Back and Moving Forward
As I gain insight and contemplate how I can apply the lessons to my life, rest assured that I will be back to share it all with you. Just make sure you subscribe to my newsletter so you don't miss it when it comes.

Until next time...

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

What Is The Purpose Of Your Struggle?

"Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records." ~ William Arthur Ward

When I read that quote from William Arthur Ward, I see two messages. The first message speaks to overcoming adversity in order to achieve great things. However, the second message reveals itself in the exploration of adversity and its effect on the broken individual. In the context of this passage, being broken is a sign of weakness or a lack of perseverance. However, I would argue that being broken can actually be good for us.

As I think about real situations in my life, I have gone back and forth on the purpose of adversity. Yes, difficulty has the power to challenge us, inspire us, and push us to new heights, but it also has the ability to deter further action. We most certainly see this realized in the experience of physical, emotional, or mental pain and discomfort.

Here's the question, "What is the reason for our hardship?" Is it meant to break us or to propel us? Should we stop what we're doing because it's the wrong thing or should we push through the suffering until we get a reward from it?

The answer lies within the outcome. Does this struggle make us better or worse? Are we trying to increase our strength, stop a bad habit, or are we just being abused? Are we being encouraged or discouraged? Is it removing the extra baggage from our life or adding to it? Is it uplifting and positive or destructive and hurtful?

If you look at your present situation, how would you describe it? Are the trials you're experiencing forcing you to improve? While painful, scary, and terribly uncomfortable, is the experience causing you to reflect on your life and ultimately grow? If so, then I would encourage you to push through the pain and go get what you deserve. However, if the opposite is true, then it's time to consider getting away from those toxic people and destructive situations as quickly as possible.

I honestly believe that God allows adversity in our lives to either correct us, because we're doing something wrong and something has to change, or to improve us, because we have a lofty purpose ahead and we need to get ready. Come to think of it, he may allow trials in our lives for both reasons at the same time. In the end, we shouldn't run away from adversity, but embrace it for we will be better in one way or another.

When challenges arrive in our lives, and they will come, remember to keep your head up, trust in the plan for your life, and follow the guidance written in Philippians 4:8 (KJV):

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

You are a Champion!

Until next time...

Friday, November 10, 2017

Nothing Is Promised

Nothing is promised and everything can change in an instant.

No matter where you are right now, life can be different based on the decisions that you make. It can be a good decision or a bad decision, but a decision nonetheless. You can be riding high with all things going as planned, but allow yourself to make a series of bad decisions and that life could change for the worse. The opposite is true as well. You can be in the worst place of your life, but with a series of good decisions, things begin to turn around for you.

Even in those moments beyond our control, we get to decide how we will see the event and what action we decide to take next. That decision rests with us.

What decisions will you make today?

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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Attacking the Debt: My Plan for Paying Off $390,000

Attacking the Debt: My Plan for Paying Off $390,000

The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender. ~ Proverbs 22:7 (NIV)

Ouch! As I read that quote from Proverbs, I know exactly how it feels to be in debt and it's not fun. While I believed that my decisions were wise at the time, now that I have to pay it all back, I'm questioning my logic. Yes, I'm surviving but my lifestyle has and will continue to be affected until I can free myself from the shackles associated with personal loans.

In today's article, I want to begin a conversation about debt and share my plan for getting out. I would also like for this post to be a living document that I can update as my situation changes or as I learn more on the subject. In the end, I hope to look back at this time and celebrate how far we've come. While I may be telling my story, this can be a journey for us all.  

Background Story

Over the past year, I have had a number of personal situations arise that required a considerable amount of time, energy, patience, and money. To be honest, it has been an extremely challenging period of my life, but I believe that God will work it out and I'll be stronger, wiser, and better prepared for the mission (and blessings) that lay ahead. While the aforementioned circumstances go far beyond money, our finances do play a sizable role in our everyday life. As a result, I'll start by being transparent with my financial situation, but I anticipate that at some point the other lessons will find their way out as well. 

When I think about where I am in life, I know that I have been blessed. Unfortunately, even with a great job and salary, I still find myself living paycheck to paycheck. When it's possible, I try to save as much money as I can for a rainy day; however, it is an uncomfortable feeling when rainy day circumstances eat away at the financial cushion you once had. Even more unsettling is when you realize that the monetary support you expected to refill the coffers is either not coming or was far less than what you anticipated thereby leaving you feeling exposed and seriously vulnerable. Yeah, I'm feeling it!

In response to stress and anxiety, I almost always began by looking for ways to organize myself and my life. Since today we are talking about finances, I usually start the process by reviewing my budget and asking the following questions:

  • How much money will I bring in this month? 
  • What are my expenses? 
  • How much will I have left over? 
Based on the responses to those questions, I ultimately have to rethink my monthly purchasing decisions in order to stay within budget but also to start rebuilding my safety net.

Dave Ramsey's 7 Baby Steps to Financial Peace

Years ago, probably while going through another financial struggle, I found Dave Ramsey's book, Total Money Makeover. It was then that I was first introduced to the 7 Baby Steps to Financial Peace.

As I write that, I am once again reminded of how powerful our struggles can be.

"Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records." ~ William Arthur Ward

Don't get me wrong, I don't like feeling uncomfortable or going through tough times, but adversity, much like a cold shower, has a way of waking me up. I can either sit idly by and watch circumstances slap me around or I can pull myself together and start fighting back. The key, based on how I see the world now, is to embrace the struggle because it welds the power to improve us and help us reach our highest potential. When I get comfortable, I get lazy, fat, sluggish, and sloppy. When I struggle, I quickly drop what's unnecessary and focus on the goal. That explains why successful people and overall achievers adopt the saying, "Get comfortable being uncomfortable." It is through the intentional discomfort that we can finally realize our best selves.

Now that we know about the power of struggle, let's focus that energy on getting out of debt and then let's navigate our way toward building wealth. Here are the 7 Baby Steps to Financial Peace:
  • Baby Step 1: $1,000 cash in a beginner emergency fund
  • Baby Step 2: Use the debt snowball to pay off all your debt but the house
  • Baby Step 3: A fully funded emergency fund of 3 to 6 months of expenses
  • Baby Step 4: Invest 15% of your household income into retirement
  • Baby Step 5: Start saving for college
  • Baby Step 6: Pay off your home early
  • Baby Step 7: Build wealth and give generously
In today's article, I will start by focusing on Baby Steps 1 and 2. As I make progress, I will come back and update the post to reflect the remaining steps. 

Baby Step 1: $1,000 Cash for the Emergency Fund

Once again, I find myself at Baby Step 1. While I personally like having more than $1,000 set aside for emergencies, this is a great place to start. Looking at my current budget, I should be able to reach this goal by the end of the month. If I'm unable to get there by adjusting my spending, I do have a house full of things that I can sell. Come to think of it, getting rid of all those unused items sounds like a great idea regardless of my financial situation.

Baby Step 2: Use the Debt Snowball

This is where I see a great deal of time and resources being spent. While updating my budget for the month, I decided to bite the bullet and obtain a complete snapshot of my financial health. According to my records, I currently owe over $390,000.

"Whatcha talkin' bout, Willis?" 

Yeah, I know. Crazy right? With two mortgages, a number of student loans, and a few medical bills, this monstrosity makes me feel extremely uncomfortable. On the good side, I know the target number that I need to attack and I have a plan to bring things back under control.

"So, how does the Debt Snowball work?" You ask.

That is a really great question and I'll do my best to share the steps I'm taking to execute this strategy.

Make a List of the Debt

The first place I started was by visiting to get a full view of my debt. I also went to each lender's website to confirm the balance, interest rates, and monthly payments. Outside of a few medical bills, everything was already captured and calculated within

Prioritize the List by Amount Owed

Once I have everything recorded, I then prioritize the list by the amount owed. The smallest debt gets listed first. While creating the list based on the interest rate makes sense, this particular strategy builds momentum by knocking off the debt as quickly as possible. There is something extremely motivating about crossing off completed items. The goal is to get it paid off, so taking whatever steps to build and maintain momentum is key. 

Pay All the Minimum Payments

Outside of the student loans and medical bills, I am already making monthly payments on all my bills. The goal this week is to get the student loan payments back down to a reasonable amount, as $1,300 a month is just not feasible right now. Additionally, I'll need to reach back out to the medical billing company to establish a monthly installment.

Put Extra Cash Toward the Smallest Debt

Once I have all my minimum payments being made, I will take any extra cash that I have left and apply it to the smallest debt. Let's say that I have $300 left over each month. Instead of stashing it under savings, that $300 goes directly toward the smallest debt. 

As a working example, let's say my lowest monthly installment is $25. When I combine $25 with the $300, it now becomes $325 towards knocking off the medical bill. 

Let's say that after two months, the first debt is paid in full. Now, I get to apply that freed up $325 towards the next debt on the list, which is $100 a month. 

As you can see, I now have $425 towards attacking the next debt. As I pay off each loan, the monthly installment gets rolled into a growing snowball of freed money. It just keeps growing and building until eventually I no longer have any more debt. It is important to remember that in Baby Step 2, we are attacking all the debt outside of my mortgages. We'll address mortgages later when I reach Baby Step 6.

Additional Thoughts

While I have put off attacking the debt for a long time, I can no longer afford to blindly over look these issues. I have come to learn that problems, and not just financial problems, do not magically disappear because we ignore them. No, issues go away when we face them head on and take the appropriate action to usher in a resolution.

Will it be Uncomfortable?

Absolutely, this type of change will require a sacrifice. To create more space, it may mean putting on hold any extra activities outside of what's necessary. Furthermore, it won't get fixed overnight. It took time to get into this hole and it will take time to get out. The best advice I can give as it relates to the discomfort associated with debt reduction is to simply "Grin and bare it." Remember, trouble won't last always. It may be difficult now, but doing what's hard will make life easier later on.

What About Emergencies?

The purpose of the Emergency Fund is to help cover any unexpected issues that may arise during the process. I personally feel uneasy about ONLY having an extra $1,000, but remember as we pay off the debt, we are freeing up more money. Should the time come that the Emergency Fund is not enough, we can put our debt reduction effort on hold long enough to address the issue. Additionally, if we ever go below the $1,000, make sure to replenish that fund before going back to Baby Step 2.

Well, that's about it for now. Thank you for taking the time to read and hopefully you'll join me on this journey. 

Until next time...

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Sunday, October 29, 2017

Building Deep Within Your Passion Is Better Than Building Wide

I was listening to a talk from Gary Vaynerchuk this morning and something he said really resonated with me. While he was talking primarily about social media platforms, video, marketing, blogging, podcasts, and entrepreneurship, he advised this young man to stop worrying about the numbers (going wide) and start going deeper (focus on the value add content). What are you passionate about doing? He asked. Whatever the response, he advised that we should go do that.

My interpretation of his message meant something to me because I was already thinking along these lines. In fact, I had a similar conversation with a co-worker last week about this very thing.

In this article, I want to take a few minutes to further explain the lesson that I'm chewing on in hopes that it brings you an awareness in your own lives.

Over the past few days, I've spent a considerable amount of time trying to understand the expansion of readers for my blog articles. In other words, how can I continue to grow my audience? I've tried a few things these past weeks, but none of it gave me the satisfaction that I was looking for. While the numbers of readers has exploded, I was missing the engagement and depth associated with real people who are genuinely interested in the message. The lesson for me is that I value depth over width.

Yes, it's fun to say I have X, Y, and Z number of followers and readers, but in the grand scheme of things, it means very little when the relationships are not there to support the numbers. It feels empty and shallow. Meaningful relationships take time to develop.

While I initially found the lesson in my blogging effort, the same lesson rings true in other areas of our life. We may have X, Y, and Z number of "friends" on social media, but how many of them are real, managed, maintained, strengthened, mutually beneficial, or satisfying?

Again, it's fun to say that an individual has amassed some number of success, but if it lacks the depth of genuine relationships, is it really success? Who really wants to reach the pinnacle of success alone? Sure, there is probably a momentary high associated with "winning," but when the lights turn off and the crowd stops cheering, who is still there waiting for you?

In the book "Networking For Mutual Benefit", by Teddy Burriss, I walked away realizing that relationships should be mutually beneficial. While I would love to have the capacity to engage with everyone, I don't. As a result, I have to be selective about where I spend my time and with whom I invest my energy.

One easy way to determine that answer is by identifying those things that are of interest to me. What are my passions and desires? What drives me? What feeds me? What encourages me? Who is pushing me forward to become the best version of myself? At the same time, are they getting something in return?

As I write this, I can imagine that some of you already have this figured out, but you just need a friendly reminder. Maybe, you were like me and just needed permission to do what you already know is the right thing to do. Go forth and be great at what you were created to do. You have permission. In fact, it goes beyond permission. You have been given a directive and are held responsible for doing what you were placed on this Earth to do.

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. ~ 1 Peter 4:10-11 (NIV)

Each one of us has been given a certain amount of time on this planet and we cannot afford to waste it doing those things that are not of interest to us or inline with our calling. What value is it to do something that brings forth no fruit? It is by going deep, not wide, that we allow the roots of our tree to find strength and support. It is by those roots having the opportunity to dig deep, that the tree can produce healthy and life giving fruit. It is by focusing on being the best that we can be that we first, bring glory to God, but then bring real value to others. Even if those others are few.

To bring this lesson to life, it means having deeper engagement and relationships with the right people who are aligned with where we are supposed to be. It means focusing on creating life-giving fruit and sharing it freely with those who genuinely want it. It means writing more, engaging more, building deeper friendships, and investing our time and energy into those things that are congruent with the mission.

Take a moment to just marinate on that and then answer some questions. What is your purpose? What mission are you on? What were you created to do with the time given and are you doing it?

If you find that maybe you have been distracted and focused on the wrong things, let's take this opportunity to adjust and get back to where we are supposed to be. Take whatever lesson you can acquire from your time away and embrace it as a gift toward a better you. If you are still here on God's green Earth, then you still have some work to do.

Let's not focus on what we don't have, but focus on what we do. Understand that where you are is where you are supposed to be. Be a good steward of what's been given and seek to maximize on it to the best of your ability. Only God knows how and who will be affected by your work. Be happy in the journey and never grow weary in doing the right thing for He will sustain you.

It is a powerful, overwhelming, and humbling place to be when you get back to doing what you were destined and designed to do.

Make today a very great day!

Until next time...

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Damond L. Nollan, M.B.A.

Toll-free: (919) 912-9121
E-mail: Contact Me


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