The foregoing article was originally written by Haoting Chow of Conquer Publishing and has been posted here with permission. To view the original article, click HERE.
Every action we take is made based on the decisions we make. We make these decisions ourselves (even if unconsciously). So the first thing you need to know about why you procrastinate is that..
You procrastinate because you choose to.
Yes, it is your fault. There you go, now you know the big secret. Now you simply need to choose NOT to procrastinate and you would have beaten procrastination. You are welcome.
Jokes aside, do think about it. Whenever you push a task aside and spend your efforts on some trivial distraction instead, isn’t it because at that moment in time you rather procrastinate than get down to work? You chose to not get the important tasks done, you chose to procrastinate.
Now that you realize that your procrastination is your choice, you can turn it around any time you want. All you need to do is choose to do so.
You need to make a choice.
But I hear you, choosing not to procrastinate is easier said than done. If it was so simple, I would not have needed to write a whole book on beating procrastination.
Why do we choose to procrastinate?
Let’s imagine for a moment that the decision of action vs procrastination is made based on a weighing scale with each decision on separate ends of the scale. Whichever side that weighs more in the end emerges victorious and is the behavior that we exhibit.
I was part of the school basketball team on the last year of high school. I remember myself often wanting to improve my game so much and wanting to hit the gym during my free time but somehow I always ended up in front of the computer battling aliens and fighting dragons in a fantasy world.
I really wanted to be good at basketball but I did not get much better, not without hitting the gym and training my basketball skills. Why didn’t I simply do what I was supposed to do so that I could get what I wanted?
On one side of the weighing scale, I had the decision of action – the decision to train and improve my basketball skills. It was motivated by:
- The pleasure of action – If I trained, I would have got better at the sport I love.
- The pain of procrastination – If I didn’t train, I would never improve my skills and thus would not play well for the team. This would affect the performance of the whole team and the possibility of us losing games increased. Did I mention that I hated losing?
This side of the weighing scale is looking pretty dam attractive, right? Then why did I still procrastinate?!
Let’s examine the other end of the scale, the decision of procrastination which is motivated by:
- The pain of action – The pain of physical training and all that hard work on the court after a long day of school. The way my body ached the next morning after rigorous physical training. Oh yea, let’s not forget the pain of not being able to play all those awesome video games.
- The pleasure of procrastination – Who doesn’t love just kicking back and relax on a big armchair while smashing bad guys and saving the world with a keyboard?
Well, the odds look pretty even right? Then why did the demon called procrastination win? The answer lies in the time frame.
The rewards of procrastination are immediate. In this fast-paced world that we live in, we want everything to be fast. We want faster cars, faster computers, faster Internet speed and faster results. And procrastination gives us almost immediate gratification. There is no way taking action stands a chance against it because the results of taking action is too distant. It takes time to get better at the sport as it takes practice.
Moreover, while the rewards of taking action is so distant, the pain of taking action is immediate. I could feel the burn in my muscles as I exercised. I could also feel the queasiness in my stomach which made me want to puke when I did sprints up and down the court. Let’s not forget the aching body that happened the next day. The pain of procrastination, on the other hand, is so remote. It hides and dwells in a dark corner in the far future and thus makes it so easy for us to ignore it.
Now can you see how procrastination is so seductive?
Unfortunately, human beings can be so short-sighted and we need to be able to ‘bring the future forward’ so that we can see the rewards of action before it happens and let it motivate us forward. This is where visualization works its magic.
Another way around is we need to rewire our thinking to link procrastination to more pain and action to more pleasure. I could have constantly remind myself that the burn that I felt during exercise means that my body was getting stronger and I was becoming a better player. Just because I did not see the rewards did not mean that the rewards were not happening. And as I sat on that chair playing video games, my muscles were deteriorating and my basketball skills were slowly slipping away.
Just wanting the results is not good enough. We need to want the journey that leads to it. And if we want the journey, we will walk down the road willingly and easily, appreciating every single step. This is effortless motivation at work.
Look at the greatness of Michael Jordan, the flair that he exhibited during games led him to his fame but his career and success was built on his fiery passion during practice hours.
Of course, it is easier said than done. Conscious thinking takes.. conscious effort. Most importantly, it takes practice and trust me, it gets easier. Before you know it, you will be summoning effortless motivation at your will like clockwork.
But I told you, didn’t I. Before that can happen, you first need to make a choice.
If you want to take the next step of your journey and learn advance strategies to beat procrastination, check out Hoating Chow’s Kindle book: Beat Procrastination: Take Action and Get Things Done Effectively and Immediately