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‘Some day is not a day of the week.’ I remember reading this somewhere!  And how true this is.

Yet how many of us will start exercising ‘some day’, will start writing that book ‘some day’, will take the first step towards living the life of our dreams ‘some day?’  Procrastination is one of the main issues people struggle with, feeling completely paralysed when it comes to doing the things that need to get done, even when they know this action will benefit them immensely.  So how can you stop procrastinating and putting things off?  Here’s 10 ideas …

1 | Take action TODAY

Some day never comes, my friend – the day to take action is TODAY!  What you do TODAY is what will shape your tomorrows.  Don’t kid yourself that you’ll start tomorrow, on Monday, on the first day of next month, or on the 1st of January!  What’s stopping you from starting right now?  It’s like the sign I’ve seen up in some pubs ‘Free beer tomorrow!’  Well, tomorrow – like Some Day – never comes!  When you go rushing back for your free beer tomorrow, the sign still says ‘tomorrow’!  

In case you’ve forgotten, you only have a finite number of TODAYS on Planet Earth.  So what you do today counts.  The choice is yours as to whether you will spend it watching TV or taking another step towards your dreams and goals!

2 | Focus on your why

A lot of people don’t even start taking action, let alone keep taking action, because they don’t have a strong enough REASON to get started, or keep going.  If you want to drop 2 dress sizes, WHY do you want to do this?  Not because you love cutting out carbs and sweet treats and running 5 miles a day, but maybe because you want to feel good, have a healthy body weight and have more energy?  Focus on your ‘why’ – and this is usually the feeling you will feel when you eventually achieve your goal.  If you have a strong enough why, you will get started.  There’s a book I read many years ago that explained this brilliantly (I think it’s The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy).  If you were given the opportunity to walk across a plank placed between two high rise buildings for $20, would you do it?  Probably not!  But if you had a loved one, say your child, trapped on the other building that had just caught fire, would you walk across the plank to rescue them?  There’s a high possibility you would!  You wouldn’t put it off to Monday, would you?!  Your WHY would be strong enough to get you moving immediately.  Reasons drive results – so dig deep for the reasons WHY you want to do something.  What will it cost you if you don’t achieve the goal?

3 | Look for your pain points

Apparently human behaviour is driven by either pain or pleasure.  And also, apparently humans tend to be motivated more by pain than pleasure (weird species, aren’t we!)!  So if we look at our dropping 2 dress sizes example – what pleasure will you experience by dropping two dress sizes?  You’ll look good, you’ll feel good, you’ll be more confident, you’ll have more energy, etc.  Which is a wonderful picture to paint that will give you a warm, fuzzy feeling and hopefully one that will get you to do the things you need to do to achieve that.  Now let’s look at the pain you’ll experience if you don’t achieve your goal of dropping two dress sizes.  Perhaps you’ll keep gaining weight?  Possible ill health?  Low confidence?  Fatigue?  Usually the thought of the pain we’ll feel if we don’t achieve our goal gets us into activity more than the thought of the pleasure we’ll experience if we do.  If you plan to start your own business ‘some day’ to escape the daily grind, what pain will you feel if you don’t get started TODAY?  Can you see yourself in 20 years time, taking the same commute to work, getting your measly pay cheque that hardly sees you through the month, thinking to yourself ‘why didn’t I take action back then?’  Regret is a bitter pill to swallow.  Thinking about the pain you will suffer for not taking action today is a surefire way to get you up off the couch and doing something your future self will thank you for one day. 

4 | Work backwards

I was so moved by a talk I listened to by Les Brown where he spoke about people reaching the end of their lives and that the saddest part was not just about the person themselves dying but all their hopes and dreams dying with them.  All the things they could have, would have and should have been and done whilst they were alive.  But didn’t.  It’s not something we like to think about and tend to avoid, but one day our time will be up.  If you picture yourself at the end of your life looking back, what do you want to be thinking, feeling?  Pride and a sense of achievement for all the things you made happen or at least tried to make happen?  Or deep regret at all the time you wasted, time that you now can’t get back?  

5 | Be smart with your time

One thing that is truly equal in this world is that each and every one us – rich, poor, young, old – has 24 hours in our day.  It’s what we each do with that 24 hours that makes the difference.  More specifically, what we choose to do with that 24 hours.  How can you work, not harder, but smarter?  If you’re procrastinating over doing something, schedule it in your diary like you would an appointment with your bank manager – and attend your appointment with yourself!  Can you wake up an hour earlier, stay up an hour later, use your lunch hour, evenings or weekends to work on your goals or spend time on the things that are truly important to you?  Plan your days wisely by scheduling your key tasks, the activities you need to do to move the needle, and then let everything else fit in around that.  Keep the main thing, the main thing!  There is a plethora of information out there to help you get the most out of your most previous resource – time.  One of my favourite books on making the most of your time is The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch.

6 | Don’t wait for things to be perfect (they never will be!)

I took part in a fabulous workshop with James Wedmore a while ago, who trains online entrepreneurs, and there was one statement he made that really stuck with me that I always go back to when in doubt – and actually have stuck on my wall now!   ACTION CREATES CLARITY.  This is something I struggled with a lot.  I would want to know what my entire plan was from start to finish before I got started.  Kind of like wanting to see what the roads, traffic, weather and scenery would be like on every part of my journey from England to Scotland before I set off by car.  Not really possible!  If I waited for the promise of perfect weather throughout my journey, plus a completely clear road ahead with no cars, plus all green traffic lights  – I would be waiting FOREVER before setting off!  Sadly, none of us has a crystal ball to look into the future and see what will happen if we do X or Y, we’ve just gotta take that leap of faith and keep heading in the direction of our goals and dreams!  Sure, there may be setbacks, yes, there are likely to be detours along the way – but just as your satnav simply reroutes you if things don’t go to plan, so can you reroute if you come across any challenges!  There will never be the perfect time to start, SO JUST START NOW!  Here’s one of my favourite quotes:

‘Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.’ — Martin Luther King, Jr

7 | Be clear on where it is you’re going

You need to be clear on your destination; your end goal, but you don’t need to (and can’t in any case!) see every detail of the journey to your destination.   You’ve just got to put the engine on, programme your destination into the satnav and set off, letting things unfold as you move forward.  I found that one of the biggest reasons I would procrastinate was because I wasn’t clear on where I was going, what I wanted to achieve, even if it was simply knowing exactly what I wanted to achieve that day.  Now, before I go to sleep, I know exactly what I want to achieve the next day.  When I wake up, I have a clear goal in mind that I’m working towards that day, no more dithering about, wondering what I should be doing!  And of course, using my Born to Flourish planner-journal keeps me laser focused on what goals I’m working towards and the mindset I need to keep me on track!

8 | Expect more of yourself

Sometimes you just need to take a good long look at yourself in the mirror, look into your eyes and ask yourself ‘Is this really the best I can give?  Am I really fulfilling my whole potential, giving it my all?  Am I happy with the standards I’ve set for myself?  Have I even set any standards for myself?’  Humans are capable of achieving amazing things, it’s been demonstrated time and time again since the beginning of time.  Expect more of yourself.  Complacency kills so many dreams.  Raise the bar and step into your greatness.  

9 | Take Baby Steps

Don’t expect to be able to train to climb Mount Everest in two weeks, no matter how focused you are on your goal or how motivated you are!  Direction is better than speed.  You can get nowhere fast.  Or you can get where you want to be if you keep doing the do consistently, putting one foot in front of the other.  People over estimate what they can achieve in one year but often grossly under estimate what they can achieve in five years.  Again, this is something I struggled with.  I wanted results now and would feel rather dejected when at the end of a day slogging over my business, it seemed I had achieved so little.  However, I had laid another brick, and if I kept laying bricks each and everyday, eventually the wall would start taking shape.  Another quote (a Chinese proverb) I love is

‘Be not afraid of going slowly, be afraid only of standing still.’

So even if those baby steps feel like you’re moving slowly, you’re still moving!  Just keep going. 

10 | Just Do It

Stop getting ready to get ready to get ready to start Some Day.  Just go ahead and start!  Now.  With something, no matter how small it is.  Even if it’s 15 minutes you spend working on your goals, that means you’re 15 minutes closer towards your goal.  I would always feel I’m not ready, I need more this and more that, I need to be more prepared, I still don’t know exactly how things will work out, but what if this and what if that … well you’re never going to know until you GET GOING!  Maybe you just don’t ‘feel’ like it.  Be careful of feelings.  If you know what needs to be done then don’t think about it, just do it.  An elite athlete doesn’t have to think about getting out of bed at 4 or 5am to practice for hours.  They just do it.  Because they have their eye on the gold medal and know what needs to be done to get there, whether they feel like it or not.

Here’s yet another of my favourite quotes (yes, I have a huge collection!) that I’ll leave you with to help end procrastination:

‘Do the thing and you’ll have the power.’ – Ralph Waldo Emerson

In other words, regardless of how you feel, just do what you know needs to be done, and the power / energy you need to do it will come!

 

How do you overcome procrastination?