He drew a breath and said, "You're bigger than those stacks of papers, David. Just do it!" My neighbor's words made me feel worse. The two of us batted the topic back and forth like a tennis ball. He would say, "You have power over these things." Then I'd reply, "But I don't have power over them; that's my problem." Of course, the very next day my paper mountain grew a bit larger. As it grew, I lost even more faith in my abilities, and in myself. To be certain, I was up the creek--without a paddle or a guide. Fed up with the papers, as much as with myself, I would occasionally take an action, of sorts. I would briskly sift through the mountain, combing through it and plucking out anything that had no purpose whatsoever. These were usually things like fast-food restaurant coupons that had already expired, and store receipts from the most insignificant of purchases. Then I would begin segregating what was left over, sometimes by subject matter, other times by size. Finally, I'd re-stack the items neatly until they resembled more of a neat and well-proportioned pyramid than a craggy and old paper mountain. My work done, I would once again retire to my television set. What does this tell us? For one thing, it tells us that when a procrastinator has ample time to deal with a task that he's put off for a while, he will often choose lower-priority wants over higher-priority needs. For example: in the scenario above, the priority I chose was to half-heartedly deal with that paper mountain as quickly as possible, a want; rather than doing what I truly needed to "do," which would have been to actually deal with it until I had essentially eliminated it. Many of us aren't paying attention to the thoughts, emotions, habits, people, and things that are robbing us of energy and we're wasting it instead of using it wisely. Those accomplishing a lot more than you, seem inhuman, and have tons of energy only focus on what gives them energy instead of what takes it away. They know smoking makes them feel tired, anxious, and worthless, so they avoid it. They know drinking a lot does the same, so they avoid it. They know unhealthy food takes energy instead of creating it and so they make healthier food choices.

They know not having a sleep schedule destroys energy so they make sure to go to bed and wake up at the same time. They know negative, destructive, and unhealthy environments rob them of energy, so they choose the people and things they give their attention to very carefully. Over the last 10 years, add up all of the days you mismanaged your energy and decided to go to bed too late and wake up too late. Add up the extra hours you spent sleeping in instead of getting up early and doing something productive. What could you have accomplished if you managed your time and energy more wisely? If you went to the gym all of those days instead of sleeping, what would you look like now? How much healthier would you be? If you used those days and hours to work on a new business for yourself, how far along would you be? Would you still be working a job? What would your financial situation look like? How would it be different? We are Oscillatory and move to and from like a pendulum. We expend energy and renew it. If we expend too much energy without renewing, we burn out. If we rest too much without spending energy, we lose strength, momentum, and stamina. We become weak and lazy and don't grow. When we exercise, we break the muscle down and allow it to recover. Necessary for muscle growth. You need the right balance. I am reminded, as well, of a patient I treated who at first was evasive and resistant to treatment.

A talented financial-services executive in his forties, he was referred to me by a managing partner who witnessed rapidly shifting moods, including irritability; increasing lateness; failure to complete transactions; and covering up for failed responsibilities. The executive had been a great asset to his company, and before they let him go, they wanted to see if they could preserve him. Samuel Gold, as I will call him, arrived late for our first visit. He was a bit unkempt despite wearing expensive clothing and likely $1,000 shoes. He immediately took control of the meeting by saying he did not want to be there and was only doing so to satisfy his boss. In his view, he had no problems except an overcontrolling manager. I tried to meet him, at first, on neutral ground, asking about where he lived, his family, his work, his friends, his interests. But he was surly, muttering curt answers and saying he was busy and needed to leave. I said that he could leave anytime he wanted, but he would not leave behind the demand from his firm that he understand his problems, all observable and persistent, and take action toward solving them. Unless that happened, I imagined (and he reluctantly agreed) he would soon be packing up his desk and surrendering his security clearance. That created the basis of an alliance, not quite for treatment, but, because I held the power to prevent his dismissal, the grounds for a kind of partnership. Once I had his attention, I started to ask what he wanted for himself and his family. He liked making money but was also a responsible family man and involved in his temple and community, or at least he had been. He grasped that all that was in peril, but not that he had the power to preserve what he wanted and needed. Every individual's experience is different, of course, but it might be helpful at this stage to return to the author's experience. In the first chapter, I explained how, over a period of several years, I gradually came to feel more and more hemmed in by my feelings of anxiety. At the age of twenty-five, I found it "impossible" to set foot on an airplane, and the prospect of even taking a subway filled me with a certain degree of dread. At around this time, however, two things happened that made me want to change this situation. A job opportunity opened up that I was very excited about, but I knew that taking it would eventually require me to travel by plane. Secondly, my family wanted to take a trip together to Iceland, and I did not want to be left out.

I suddenly became very tired of being limited by my anxiety. I wanted to do the kinds of things I had done in the past without a second thought - things like traveling and taking up exciting offers. I wanted to do things that other people found it easy to do. In short, I wanted my life back. I wanted to lead my full life again. I started researching online about methods people had found to overcome anxiety, and I discovered the writings of Dr. Martin Seif, mentioned above. His work introduced me to the basic concepts of cognitive behavioral therapy, and the methods he prescribes worked wonders in enabling me to gradually regain my ability to travel and see the world. Unfortunately, nothing that actually required effort was dealt with, and of course, the next day I would stare at the stack again and think, "Why didn't I take care of that when I had the time? What's wrong with me?" This self-doubt and shame at my perceived inadequacies led to an even greater lack of confidence in my decision-making ability, which then led to even lower self-esteem, and to even more task avoidance. With all of this against me, should I have been surprised to find myself falling into depression every now and then? I can recall an occasion when a two-week vacation from work was approaching, and I eagerly looked forward to using the entire time to clean and organize my apartment. Anticipating abundant time and energy to mount an all-out assault on untidiness, I began formulating my strategy: Remove everything from the smaller closet, throw out what I don't want or need any longer, mop it down to remove the dust, stick a fan in there to air it out, go out for pizza, then return to put what's left back in, and enjoy the extra space! Tear apart the larger closet, do the same as day one, get pizza from a different place and make mental notes on who made better pizza while basking in the glow of another clean closet! Need I tell you what I accomplished during that vacation? I'll give you one guess ... are you ready? Absolutely nothing! So what did I do with my precious time off? Well, an awful lot of it was consumed by watching television, and by counting the days I had left in my vacation.

Not surprisingly, I returned to work feeling tired and emotionally bogged down by this defeat at my own hands. Today, not only do I find myself amazed by what I put myself through, but I've also been surprised and humbled by many individuals who have related similar tales. Habitual procrastinators often have difficulty in managing our free time, and when we do a poor job of it, we tend to suffer emotionally. Conversely, we often flourish when we're placed under rigid conditions, like final deadlines, which helps explain why some of us do well in the workplace while we do poorly at home. We're wasting energy by constantly being on edge and unable to stay relaxed. We're always worried. We're always stressed. We're always anxious. We're always upset. We're always angry. We're in a constant state of negativity. This burns through your energy reservoirs and leaves you feeling all used up and worthless. When you do this day in and day out for years, you look back and wonder why you haven't moved forward, accomplished anything, and become better. It's because you didn't have the energy and your free time was spent renewing and recovering from your destructive and negative mental and emotional cycle. Staying in a constant state of mental, emotional, and physical relaxation reserves your energy. Do your best to remain in a constant state of being "chill" and "cool" about everything and not let your thoughts, emotions, reactions, and responses reach any extremes. Remain balanced and keep everything mellow, calm, and peaceful. In every category, the highest performing people in the world are always calm, still, relaxed, and not bouncing off of the walls. They're not going from one extreme to the other. They're not experiencing intense and extreme emotions.