I have intended to write this post all week, but I have found other things to do.
If you are miserable because you cannot do what you need to do, keep reading.
Procrastination is prevalent and problematic. Studies show that it affects academics, work and other areas in life, like sleep and finances. Take finances for instance. Some do not file taxes until April and others have delayed retirement investing. The thinking is that we will get it to, but the consequences don’t really have an immediate impact changing how you behave towards the task. Procrastination is a voluntary delay in a task despite knowing the consequences. We fail to self-regulate our impulsive behavior which submits to instant gratification in place of long-term rewards. Procrastination has become a normal human characteristic, which gives rise to higher stress, poorer health and affects our behavior towards goals.
Recognize the difference between preparing and starting. You are probably in the preparation stage for some New Year resolutions right now. Narrowing down those goals such as, getting more sleep, journaling daily, and better nutrition or exercise. During the preparation stage you are analytical, gathering supplies, seeking information, tools and hatching a plan. These things could include software, equipment, memberships, etc. These things are really just a form of procrastination. You don’t need a new pair of sneakers to be running in the park or a new fitness watch to collect data. Do not overanalyze what you must do, but keep it simple instead. Tasks may become overwhelming and impossible to start because the goal appears to be far off. Do not zero in on the goal, but the process of forming a habit. Break it down into simple steps and begin. The small wins you get from achieving baby steps will increase motivation, feeding your craving for gratification and rewards.
President Theodore Roosevelt said, “Believe you can and you’re halfway there”.
I think a great deal of Teddy, but I do not believe this quote holds true. Believing doesn’t get you halfway there, starting does. I have listened to Dan Millers’s 48 Days Podcast for some years, and one trend I have noticed is the anxiety people have over starting a new job, career, or business. Dan does a great job of helping people move past fears and transition into new endeavors. Dan becomes an accountability partner for many of these people. This is a great way to overcome procrastination. Ask someone in your circle to help you stay accountable or find a professional coach. My spouse is my personal accountability partner and I also act as an accountability coach for others.
Change your Language
Another area you can aim to reduce procrastination is your self-blaming language. We have a tendency to be pretty negative minded when we do not achieve something we wanted to. Instead of being negative, address how to change and succeed. When we focus our thoughts negatively on past experiences, it then becomes a template for our future experiences. One way to do this is to mentally rehearse achieving your goal or task. Imagine the start of the task until completion, how it will make you feel and the rewards or accolades you will receive for your accomplishment. Doing this also starts to stimulate and strengthen neural connections in your brain that will reinforce positive behavior.
All you must do now is show up and place one foot in front of the other. Don’t be distracted by 24/7 entertainment and electronic devices. Often these things prevent us from going to bed on time and then we wake up late. We don’t get the right start, hitting the snooze button and again procrastinating. Once we begin, we have the tendency to keep on trucking. We begin to get this feeling of uneasiness when we do not finish something we started. Our unconscious mind nags at our consciousness telling it that we have unfinished business. We have all probably experienced that feeling of something left unfinished, but couldn’t call attention to it or stepped out the door and knew we were forgetting something.
Our lives are bogged down with tasks and demands. We rarely schedule ourselves time to have a pleasant time and when we do, it usually comes at the cost of increased stress, poorer health and not achieving our goals. We trade sleep and important tasks for instant stimulation and rewards. When we recognize procrastination we can beat it by keeping the process simple, by applying one’s mind to habit building, developing accountability and fixing your eyes upon change. These things bring about positive mental reinforcement. I challenge you to push away from the screen and start now.