Have you ever had an AWESOME idea that you failed to start, only to watch someone else take action on it, and achieve massive success?
Yep! You procrastinated and missed the boat, my friend!
How did that make you feel?
Makes you feel sh!tty, right?
Don’t beat yourself up! Not yet anyway, ‘cos I’ve got some good news for you…
In this post, we’re going to cover procrastination, and how to stop it, RIGHT NOW! (And not next week)
Before we can STOP procrastinating, we first need to know what it is...
What Is Procrastination?
Procrastination is the act of delaying or postponing a task, or set of tasks.
In other words, we fail to do what we SHOULD be doing in order to achieve a desired future result, and end up doing something else that is less scary or more fun, in the present day.
But why is this?
Why Do We Procrastinate?
1 - Time sensitivity.
For procrastinators (thats most people then...) the longer the time frame that is allocated to achieve something, the less likely you are to start working on it until the deadline is closer.
Imagine you are two people...
- Future You
- Present You
Future You is the goal setter. The one with the vision of what you would like to achieve in the future. The one who values longterm rewards.
Present You is the action taker. Only the Present You can start to take action towards a task or goal, because this is the You that is living in the present day.
Unfortunately for us, Present You is not so great at looking towards future rewards, and often values instant gratification over long term success.
Signing up for a gym membership 6 months before summer to start working on your beach bod.
Eating a donut that is right in front of you.
Future You is looking 6 months ahead. This You can visualise the rewards. 6 months of hard work to get in shape for summer. The results will be awesome!
But Present You wants that f**king donut! It's going for the instant gratification, and wants to eat the donut, right now.
Besides, 6 months is waaaaaay down the line, and you've got tones of time to get buff, right?
Present You asks yourself "Maybe I'll just start in a couple of weeks instead?"
It doesn't take a genius to realise which result would be more rewarding in the long term. But that primitive, Present You will usually win the battle, and you'll put off joining the gym until 2 weeks before summer.
By that point its too late to get any decent results because you've eaten too many donuts!
2 - Fear
Ever wanted a pay rise because you know you're worth it, but delayed asking your boss because you're scared?
We often procrastinate because we're fearful, and we think that if we delay the painful situation long enough, it'll sort itself out.
You tell yourself that 'one day' you'll be ready to ask the awkward question, or you'll catch your boss in a good mood. Or 'one day' you'll do something really worthy of a pay rise and that'll be the best time to ask.
Usually the opposite occurs, and that day never comes.
Lets face it - your boss is probably not going to offer you a pay rise unless you ask for it.
But as the days roll by, the fear only grows larger and larger, making it much harder to take action, and much easier to procrastinate.
What Happens When We Stop Procrastinating?
When we eventually start working on the task, we reach the tipping point from where procrastination turns into action.
This is a positive move in the right direction.
Have you ever noticed that when you are mid procrastination, you suffer feelings of self loathing, anxiousness, a weight hanging over you due to you in-action, guilt, shame...... you get the picture.
However, once you reach the procrastination tipping point, and start to work on the task, those negative feelings start to dwindle away. And you suddenly start feeling much better about the situation.
The problem with procrastination is not DOING the work, it's STARTING the work in the first place.
So, in order to make procrastination a thing of the past, we need to make it as simple as possible for the Present You, to get started, and to remove the friction that is causing our procrastination.
But how do we do that??
I'm about to tell ya.....
Here are 5 strategies to [STOP] procrastinating right now.
STRATEGY #1 - Create A Vision & Goal Plan - Personal Development Planning
I've written an entire blog post on this subject. You can read it here. (will open a new tab, so you can carry on reading this post)
Setting goals is relatively pointless unless you know WHY you're creating them.
Unless you have a clear vision of WHY you're setting goals and the purpose behind them, they don't have meaning, and when they don't have meaning, you'll delay in achieving them, or just put them off forever!
Personal Development Plans are a great way to gain extreme clarity on what you want, and then use your plan to take action.
Without a clear plan, your Present You will allow life to just pass you by leaving you wondering where the hell the time went, and why you've never progressed, and still doing the same old shit you were doing 5 years ago.
This FREE course that I've create is a game changer in goal setting. It will help you to set PROPER goals that truly align with what you actually want, and then show you how to achieve your goals, and allow you to start living your vision:
FREE 4 Day Goal Crusher Course
This course will help you to discover your real purpose, discover your true vision and make an impact that truly fulfils you.
STRATEGY #2 - Be Held Accountable
Being held accountable for your actions, increases the consequences of procrastination.
Because you're no longer only letting yourself down. You'll be disappointing someone else, and this usually hurts more.
You decide to get fitter, and want to start going running every Saturday morning.
You make this decision on your own, and don't bother asking anyone else if they would like to join you and commit to this weekly task.
Skipping your exercise sessions won't make too much of an impact upon your health or fitness in the short term.
You'll only notice the impact of your laziness (procrastination) on your exercise over a period of months, and this is difficult for the Present You to foresee that far ahead.
However, if you agree to go running this Saturday with Jeff, the impact of letting Jeff down is far more immediate, and besides, Jeff will think you're a dick for pulling our of your commitment. And that hurts!
STRATEGY #3 - Remove Temptations (Especially Social Media)
Realising what your biggest distractions are, is vital to cutting out procrastination.
For me, Social media played a huge roll in my procrastination.
Social media is know to be highly addictive.
When you use social media, you release a chemical called dopamine which encourages your mind to want more, to desire, seek out, and search.
Endless amounts of uploaded photos and videos are a great way to fulfil this need to search out and seek, and this rewards the Present You with a big dose of instant gratification.
Needless to say, I remove the temptation of social media when I want to get shit done. And it works!
The same goes for people looking to shed some extra pounds. If you remove the temptation of the biscuit cupboard, you increase your chances of success.
STRATEGY #4 - Take Baby Steps
It's very easy to get overwhelmed by a seemingly large task. And overwhelm is a great deterrent for action.
Building a house for example is quite an undertaking, and it usually takes months and months of preparation, and then even more time enduring demanding, physical work.
If you break the process down into smaller stages, it suddenly appears far less daunting and you're able to fulfil the gratification of completing each stage in short term bursts.
Writers and novelists also adopt this principle.
Instead of having a longterm goal of finishing a book in a certain time frame. They'll often commit to writing for just 15 minutes per day. Or have a goal of 1000 words per day.
STRATEGY #5 - Be Brave. Don't Be A Pussy.
Gone are the days of living in caves, hunting down buffalo with our spears, and fighting predators that could potentially kill us.
Back then, fear would have been vital for survival in the stone ages, when there was a very real threat to life from predators.
Fear is a feeling induced by perceived danger or threat.
But lets face it - asking that guy/girl out for a coffee is NOT going to kill us, and there is no real danger or threat to us by asking. Yet we find ourselves terrified at the thought asking them.
If the feeling of fear is overwhelming, and really is stopping you from getting anything done, I would strongly advise you to refer to all of the previous stages mentioned in this post.
First of all, address the fear.
- Figure out WHAT is making you scared of performing the task, and WHY.
- Then visualise what it would be like if you were no longer afraid of it, and how you would act without the fear.
- Then create a plan to achieve the task, and the exact steps you would need to take to overcome the fear.
- Tell someone what you're going to do to overcome this fear, and when you're going to do it. Then get them to check that you've managed to achieve the task.
Remember - Life rewards action!