First, ask yourself what you “put off” and why? While procrastination is a universal behavior, it seems we are very individual on what we procrastinate on and why we do it. Figuring out what the thinking behind your inaction is, will help you in identifying what thought patterns and behaviors need to be changed. If you can identify those thought patterns and the often-limiting beliefs behind them, you are well on your way to change.
Where do you start? Listed below are some suggested steps that will become your action-plan and if you will follow them, you can end your procrastination very quickly!
- Set a goal and write it down
- Set an end date for achieving your goal
- Break it down into small steps
- Get in touch with your feelings
- Push past resistance and accept no excuses
- Silence negative self-talk
- Face your fear or pain and push past it (3 seconds of courage)
- Adjust your self-perception to see yourself as an action-taker
- Reward yourself for progress
- Ask for help from a friend, coach or accountability partner
- Repeat this process until it becomes habit!
“I will go to the gym and work out for an hour three times a week for the next six months!”
Write down the date six months in the future when you will have achieved your initial goal of getting in better shape. Post this date on your calendar and your mirror, refrigerator, desk or somewhere very visible where you see it regularly.
Now break down your workout routine into small steps that increase in intensity gradually. You can even start with a shorter workout period and work up, just make sure to keep your schedule and if you have to deviate or slip up, get right back to it.
Examine your feelings when they come up and get a hold of “the why” behind your procrastination. Is it a fear? Pain? Prior bad experience? Knowing why will help you move past it.
You will feel resistance and this is where you need some discipline and resolve. You will need to push past it and each time you do, it will make the next time easier. Accept no excuses –so, you are tired, you don’t feel well, you don’t have enough time. Unless you are truly ill with valid symptoms, these are really just self-defeating excuses and you must push past them. This is will power and discipline, but it is also courage. It is that 3-second decision to push past whatever obstacles or fears might present themselves and just do it! Most of the time, it turns out not to have been as scary, painful or difficult or time consumming, as we were imagining it would be.
It is also helpful to change how you look at, talk about and see yourself. Stop saying, ”I am this way” or “I always do that!” or even making those sarcastic jokes that seem so funny, but can be subconsciously programming you as to who you believe you really are and what you think you can do! Be kind to your self and support yourself with the same confidence-building support you would give to a good friend.
Along the way, give yourself small rewards as you make progress toward your goal or when you achieve it. We are more motivated when we get a reward or reward ourselves, even if it is only a small acknowledgement. Everyone responds positively to encouragement.
Having a friend who supports and encourages you, a coach or an accountability partner can make a huge impact on helping you toward your goals. Hanging out with other people who are motivated action-takers can also be inspiring and helpful.
Lastly, once you have broken the procrastination habit and achieved a goal, repeat and make “not procrastinating” or being a motivated action-taker a positive and desirable habit! Make it who you are!
This process can work long or short-term. It can work on something small or that big and overwhelming thing you thought was impossible. You just have to implement and in the process, change your mindset. It really is that simple and can be that easy, if you will believe it is! Be your own “Action Hero" and just do it now!