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The next morning when alarm rings at 6:15, your inner brat says to you, "Just press snooze button. You didn't really intend to get up till 6:30 anyway." And 9 minutes later when alarm rings again, your inner brat says, "Just one more time. It's not 6:30 yet."
You might press snooze button 2 or 3 more times. By time you do roll out of bed you feel a little rushed, but you convince yourself that you can still make it out door by 7:30 . . . 7:40 at latest.
Oops -- what have you just done? You have inadvertently allowed your inner brat to negotiate. The 7:30 departure time is no longer firm. Now it's moved to 7:40. Plus, you have opened door to further delay as you get closer to 7:40.
As your morning routine progresses, you find several little things that didn't seem urgent last night or day before, but which need to be taken care of *right now*. Checking your watch (which you've set 10 minutes fast) you see that it's 7:35. "It's really only 7:25," you remind yourself. Your inner brat adds that you have at least 15 minutes, since you can still make it to work on time if you leave at 7:40, providing traffic is not too bad.
Next thing you know, it's 7:55, and you go flying around looking for your shoes, your keys or that recipe you promised to Gladys at work. Now there's no way you're going to be there by 8:00. But tomorrow for sure . . .
How did this happen? You can see that problem is not lack of time -- you have enough time to get ready.
The problem is what you do with time. Your inner brat distracts you, makes excuses about urgencies of nonessential tasks, or rationalizes that you don't have to conform to a rigid schedule.
And it's not just work or other obligations that your inner brat resists. It also balks at preparing for things that you're looking forward to. Just as with work, getting ready for positive events requires focus and blocking out distractions. Since these involve effort and concentration, your inner brat wants nothing to do with them.
As you can see, if you want to be successful at mastering your chronic lateness, it's not enough to merely rearrange your schedule. You must also understand how your inner brat sabotages your best efforts to be on time by distorting your priorities. Once you get to know your inner brat, you'll be on your way to breaking your lateness habit.
Pauline Wallin, Ph.D. is a psychologist in Camp Hill, PA, and author of "Taming Your Inner Brat: A Guide for Transforming Self-defeating Behavior" (Beyond Words Publishing, 2001)
Visit http://www.innerbrat.com for more information, and subscribe to her free, monthly Inner Brat Newsletter.