Monday, April 14, 2014

Monday Motivation | Let's talk Procrastination

I don't think I've ever met a person who hasn't battled with procrastination. It's an issue that I struggle with, I've coached others on the same issue and, as a matter of fact, I just had a conversation with a wonderful reader on Sunday about the same concern. We have things we know we should do....but for some reason we keep putting it off (while feeling bad the entire time).
 One of the most powerful books I've read on this subject is "The War of Art" by Steven Pressfield. Steven is a novelist who has grappled with procrastination in the form of writer's block. He tells a story of after finally overcoming "Resistance" to complete his first novel.   He was working as a cab driver full time as a diversion as he ran away from doing what he needed to do.  Finally, one night, after years of procrastinating, he forced himself to sit down for two hours and write his first story.  As soon as he had completed it, he took the book and tossed it in the trash.   Once that was done, he looked at the 10 days worth of dirty dishes in the sink and immediately began to wash them.  As the pile of clean dishes rose, Steven noticed that he was whistling.  Why? Because he felt good.  Not because he wrote something good, but because after years of running from it, he actually sat down and did his work.

You and I go through this same cycle in our lives.  There's something that we KNOW needs to get done, yet we avoid it.  We fill our time with other non-essentials while constantly battling the inner voice that steadily reminds us of what we're avoiding.  The moment we complete it, our energy shifts and suddenly we start doing other things that we've been putting off.  Notice how good Steven felt as he washed a mountain of dishes.  I don't think he consciously said to himself "I'm going to write this novel, then I'll do the dishes."  No, I think his mind was strictly focused on finally overcoming the procrastination of finally writing his novel.  But, a wonderful outcome of his actions was the removal of blockage in other areas of his life.

Notice how Steven wasn't attached to the outcome of his book.  His goal wasn't to write a great American novel, he just needed to get it on paper.  Sometimes we stop ourselves from doing something because we fear it won't be any good.  If that is your way of thinking, please refer back to last week's post about life lessons from Chris Brown's dancing.  Over the weekend, I visited a talented Makeup Artist friend. She talked about how excited she was to launch her new makeup business.  I brought up the possibility of utilizing Youtube to expand her branding.  But the thought of it terrifies her.  I asked her a question. "Let's say you put out a few videos, and three months from now, I ask you how things are, will you say that you regret doing it?"   In fact, if she did launch a few videos, the worse case scenario is that she'd get a couple of hundred views. But is that really a "worse case scenario" or is it a good thing because a few hundred people who didn't know her work are now familiar with her.

Same with us. We avoid something because we think it'll be a terrible experience if we go through it.  Truth is, ONLY and I mean ONLY good things can come from doing what we need to do.  Think about it.  List out everything you've been avoiding. Whether it's placing a call, decluttering, writing a book, getting that certification, working out consistently, launching your business, whatever it is:

1.  You will NEVER regret doing it (but you will regret avoid it)
2. Only good things come when you do it.
3. You will also experience unexpected breakthroughs in other areas of your life when you do them.

I would like you to keep these three things in mind whenever you find yourself avoiding taking action. I invite you to do a 7 day personal challenge where you do one thing everyday that we've been putting off.  Doesn't have to be "that huge thing" you've been avoiding. Could be as simple as flossing after brushing. But do something everyday to build that muscle.  Next thing you know, it will become easier for you to tackle that big thing on your list.  Who's with me?
  1. Amazing post! I'm going to print this off and keep it safe.
    Procrastination has been an ongoing issue for me too (in fact I'm doing it right now!).
    What I find helps a lot, is focusing on the rewards at the end of the task before I start.