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Procrastination preludes the problem

F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- Things arise in our everyday life that can, and probably will, affect our futures. Those tasks, challenges or issues are things we need to overcome to forge the best life we can. Whether it's deciding our next career move or changing the oil in our car, waiting to take care of a simple task could cause a greater issue.

Now I don't mean you should take care of everything that pops up as soon as you notice it. Time management and having goals are the best, and probably the only, way to truly know how to effectively handle issues.

Recently, I learned that the key to success, or maybe just not getting old before my time because of stress, is to avoid procrastination, especially with something that could get in the way of your future aspirations.

Well, aspirations, both future and present, include traveling for me. It's something I enjoy, though I've never been able to really go out and explore the world to my liking. To fix that, I have a list of places I've always wanted to go.

The first stop on my wish list has always been New York City. Being from a city, although smaller than NYC, I wanted to experience firsthand one of the largest cities in the U.S.

To change NYC from an entry on my mental wish list in to a reality, I started planning what in my mind was going to be an awesome trip. However, what is important to note is that months prior to the trip even forming in my mind, I was tasked to complete my mandatory career development course.

You see, education is important for military members, and at the end of this course, you take the CDC test, which is one of the ways your leadership and the Air Force can ensure you know your career.

I always felt I handled the large challenges in my life well. However, that idea swiftly crumbled when my plans to travel were threatened because of poor time management and foresight on my part--my career and my life goals were now in the cross hairs.

The longer I waited to begin studying, the more responsibilities I received in my work environment, leading to one of the most frustrating moments in my life.

A year later, I was reminded that my test needed to be completed as soon as possible.

I could not visit NYC without passing my test, and I had already purchased my tickets.

Talking with my supervisor was the only way I would have realized the mistake I had made and was also what gave me a fighting chance. Without my supervisor in the loop, things would have gone south fast.

The test was required to be finished by the end of March and my trip to NYC encompassed most of the week prior to the due date of my test.

The race to prepare for my test began and was full of long days of after-work studying.

With the allotted year, taking the test would not have made me worried; I would have studied for months. With no more than a dozen weeks to study, I feared for my career along with my aspiration to travel.

After much anxiety about this test, thankfully I did pass and was able to visit NYC though the test was the day before my flight, so I was nervous to say the least. Even though I did well on the test, I learned a valuable lesson - one that will stay with me.

Procrastination can lead to extremely uncomfortable and difficult situations. Knowing what you want and handling issues that can affect your goals, career or leave a negative impact on your life in any way are steps leading you in the right direction.

Don't be someone who fails because of the misconception that you have enough time. Life tends to get in the way. Instead plan, set mini-goals when applicable, and take action now because later may be too late.