As I sit down to write this blog post, I’m procrastinating. I don’t feel like writing it for a couple of reasons. One, it’s my birthday and I’d rather do something else, but I can’t because I have too many other things I have to get done between now and when this post is due to publish. Two, the words for this post aren’t coming to me as I’d hoped.
While I don’t usually procrastinate, there are times when I do. And this is one of them.
Another time I was reminded of this morning was when I was a junior in high school. I had an English class assignment to read a book entitled A Walk Across America and write a journal entry for each chapter of the book.
I did read the book. But I was procrastinating on the journal entries. I told myself I’d go back and do them after reading through the entire book first. This was not a good idea.
After reading the book, the journal entry portion of the assignment now seemed too daunting. I never did finish the full assignment. I only turned in three or four journal entries and therefore did not get a good grade. Twenty-nine years later I still remember this.
Better late than never
About five years ago, I decided to re-read the book and maybe even journal on some of the rest of the chapters.
In doing so, I learned the author, Peter Jenkins, now lives near me just outside of Nashville. I contacted Peter and told him the story above. He got a good laugh out of it and of course said, “Better late than never!”
I often wonder to myself, “What if Peter had procrastinated and never took his walk across America?” He surely wouldn’t have high school English instructors using his book to teach young minds about the importance of pursuing goals and adventures.
How to stop procrastinating: get to the root of the problem
Procrastination isn’t a good thing. But it’s even worse if it’s causing you to put off your dreams and your goals for your life.
How many years (or decades) have gone by where you never did what you said you wanted to do? How many more years do you want this to continue happening? Make this year, 2019, the last year you say next year. Here’s how!
You first have to get to the root of what causes you to procrastinate, especially if you’re a chronic procrastinator. So let’s first figure out your reason for procrastinating.
1. Is your goal not urgent enough?
If you don’t think your goal is urgent, then ask yourself if you’ll be disappointed again if you haven’t completed it by this time next year. If the answer is yes, then your goal has now become urgent.
Look at some of the other goals you have for yourself and ask the same question. Then choose the most urgent of those you said yes to, and commit to beginning it now.
2. Do you feel like you don’t know where to start?
Well, whether you realize it or not, you’ve already started just by reading this post and determining which of these reasons are causing you to delay your goals. And if you’ve read last week’s post (“Are You Happy With What You Accomplished This Past Decade?“), you should’ve already started with the first few steps in the complimentary 8-Step Goal-Achievement Plan. If not, go back and do so.
Now you have a place to start, so you can no longer use this as an excuse.
3. Are you afraid of failing?
You won’t be considered a failure if you at least give your goals a try. It’s when you don’t try at all that you’ll be seen as a failure.
I’ve written a lot in my blog about the fear of failure. If this is your reason for procrastinating, I suggest you type the word “failure” in the search box of this blog and read what pops up!
4. Do you work better under pressure?
This might be about the only legitimate reason to procrastinate, but be honest with yourself about it. Is this really true about you? Or are you just saying this because you don’t want to admit any of the other reasons might be the real reason?
If you know this is true for you and you honestly produce your best work having a tight deadline, then keep working this way (since it seems to work for you!). But go ahead and set your deadline for your goal.
5. Do you just not want to do the work that’s involved?
If the amount of work it takes to accomplish your goal feels overwhelming, choose some other goals you’re excited about and won’t easily get either bored or overwhelmed with. Start with those.
Once you see how you’re able to accomplish these goals, you’ll find it easier to accomplish your other goals.
How to stop procrastinating: take action
Now that you’ve figured out which reason or reasons for your procrastination, next set and prioritize your goals. Again, use the free 8-Step Goal-Achievement Plan I gave you in last week’s post.
Then, find an accountability partner. Someone who you can report to periodically on your progress (but not someone who’s going to nag you about it). Someone who wants to see you succeed but doesn’t necessarily have a personal stake in the results of your goals.
Also, write down dates in your calendar and set alarms on your phone for check-in points (either every month or every 90 days).
I recommend using a Passion Planner since it’s specifically designed to help you accomplish the goals you’re most excited and passionate about. I’ve used one every year for the past four years and just started filling out my fifth one for 2020. I honestly don’t think I would’ve accomplished as many things as I have in the past four years without my Passion Planner.
Finally, at the end of each quarter in the upcoming year, look back over what all you’ve accomplished thus far. This will give you the confidence and the momentum you need to finish out the remaining steps and tasks for your goals.
“The truth is 2020 won’t be any different than 2019 if you don’t make the choice to change.” Yasmine Cheyenne
By this time next year, instead of saying, “I’ll do it next year,” you’ll be saying, “What’s next?!”