Procrastination is a part of life. And while I realize there may be people who NEVER procrastinate in any area of their lives, I have yet to meet one in real life. However, I HAVE met people who are extremely good at not getting caught up in procrastination. And I would suggest that they all have a couple things in common:
They care deeply about a goal or desired outcome.
It is SUPER easy to procrastinate around things that aren’t that important to us. But it is WAY harder to argue against taking actions that lead to things we REALLY, REALLY want for ourselves and our lives. For example, if I thought it would be cool to make some extra “fun money” on the side by creating something, it might be much easier for me to get sidetracked than if I knew that not taking action would result in the loss of much needed income for paying bills. Or, if I wanted to lost a little weight so I’d look cute in a new dress, I might be more easily tempted to indulge in sweet treats than if I knew I was showing symptoms of a serious health condition that would be exacerbated by sugar. See the difference? When we have a sense of urgency or significance around our choices, it is easier to make the right ones. Understanding that, how might you create a sense of urgency or deep caring around the goals you have set for yourself?
They don’t use setbacks as excuses.
Failure happens. Setbacks happen. If this weren’t true, we would never grow! The thing is, when they do inevitably occur, we get to choose how we deal with them. For those who embrace procrastination, setbacks become a cautionary tale as to why we should proceed with caution…or perhaps not at all. In order to avoid setbacks, the procrastinator also avoids possible opportunities as well. On the flip side, the person who is able to overcome procrastination looks at setbacks through a growth lens – What can I LEARN here? How can this knowledge INFORM my next steps? How can I GROW and IMPROVE from this negative experience?
Do you ever feel like there are two versions of your life, one where you’re super-focused and productive and one where you don’t seem to get anything accomplished? If so, you’re NOT alone! Let’s call the first scenario, the one where it seems nothing happens despite our wishes to the contrary our procrastination life. In this universe, we THINK about the things we want. We TALK about what we wish life was like. We may even LISTEN to experts who are telling us how to get it. But do you notice what we’re NOT doing? The DOING!!! When we’re stuck in our procrastination life, we are great at thinking, talking, and listening….but we’re terrible at DOING. Instead, we spent our time and energy coming up with reasons to justify why we aren’t taking action! Don’t believe me? Let’s think about it…
On a focused day, I get up at 5am, complete a morning routine, then go to my office to start the tasks of the day. On these days, I accomplish more by 9am than virtually anyone I know. But on the days when I’m living my procrastination life? I still get up at 5 am…but at 9am I’m usually on my couch watch something on my dvr…and I haven’t been in my office yet…and I probably haven’t completed my morning routine. So what’s the difference in those two days? Why is it that the days start exactly the same (with a 5am wake-up) yet quickly move in such different directions? The difference is simple. The difference is ME.
Because I KNOW that as soon as I lose sight of my goals and how my daily actions connect to them, I will start looking for alternatives. Suddenly I REALLY want to catch up on that show I have on my dvr that I don’t have time for. Or I REALLY deserve to lay on the couch with the dogs and relax…with the tv on in the background, of course! And the thing is, these things are not bad…but in my procrastination life, I allow them to be a distraction that takes me off course.
Think about something you have NOT been moving forward on that you really want to be. What is holding you back? What hesitations or fears are you clinging to, and how can you rewrite that story? Ask yourself this question: If this goal is something I care deeply about, how can I use my past experiences, including any setbacks or missteps, to help move me forward toward what I want? Now Journal it out! Start with “I am not moving forward with _____ because…” Then reframe the story beginning with “But I am going to change the story I’m telling myself because I want… And I plan to go after what I want by…” Then, take ACTION on the plan you have outlined.
And if you get stuck? Reach out and let’s see if we can get you back on track!