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"Next year, I'll . . . (fill-in the blank: lose weight, save money, learn French)." Whatever the goal, for some, next year is always the best time to start.

And when next year finally arrives, they will probably have a good reason to wait until the following year.Why do some of us continually procrastinate?

Each procrastinator has a reason, be it low self-esteem, lack of time or the pull of the status quo. If they know the reason, they have probably spent a lifetime analyzing why they do it. If they don't know the reason, they have probably devoted a good deal of time and effort to trying to figure it out.

Many of my clients term themselves professional procrastinators and have shelves full of books to help them solve their problem. While it is important not to deny that problems exist, focusing only on the problem does not solve it.

In reality, focusing solely on the problem is like putting water in your gas tank. It stops you from achieving your goal. What you focus on is what you get: Focus on procrastination and you get more of the same.

If you want to lose weight, don't focus on the diet. Just get a picture in your mind of what it looks like to eat healthfully. Then begin changing the behaviors that don't line up with the picture. For instance, don't buy ice cream. Skip the candy aisle at the supermarket. And pack sparkling water instead of a cola in your lunch.

If you have trouble exercising, just keep seeing yourself as someone who does. Then talk yourself into walking to the corner. When you get to the corner your feet just might take over.

There are lots of old cliches like "it's a cinch by the inch," or "the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." The reason the cliches still are around is because they are true.

I learned this method of dealing with procrastination from a management consultant who noted that the motivating vision we hold doesn't have to be positive. Like many of us, he hates to floss. To help him remember the importance, he has hung up a little sign on his bathroom mirror. It is the same sign that appears in his dentist's office: "You don't have to floss all of your teeth, just the ones you want to keep."

- Susan Valaskovic, a professional organizer, writes this column at the Rocky Mountain News in Denver. Send comments to: Your Personal Organizer, P.O. Box 6690, Denver, CO 80206.