“A goal is a dream with a deadline” – Napoleon Hill
Some of you all may have saw a guest post title “You Made The Choice of Procrastination.” In that post, the author did a wonderful job of explaining why a person may procrastinate. But in this blog, I’m gonna offer what I consider to be a viable solution to this evil that is procrastination.
But first, let me define why I believe a person procrastinates. I believe that it has a lot to do with a person’s desire to remain in their comfort zone. Let’s face it — change is scary often times and we use our comfort zones as a source of retreat. The comfort zone to which I’m referring can be defined as a person’s habitual way of living. If an individual is used to sitting around the house all day, that is their habitual way of life and the thing that brings them comfort. To do anything outside of that is usually very uncomfortable for that person. Taking action, doing what needs to be done, would be the equivalent of stepping outside of the comfort zone and as we’ve already established, stepping outside of the comfort zone is scary for most. Therefore, procrastination kicks in.
Procrastination in a lot of cases can’t be the result of laziness because as you may well know, your average person has no problem doing the things they’re used to doing without hesitation. It is usually the new things with which they have problems doing. Now the question that may naturally arise is — how do we solve this problem? I’m gonna offer you a solution that has worked well for me. Believe it or not, I was the ultimate procrastinator. I would make plans to do a thing, and would put it off until necessity made action a must. I’ve paid the price for that way of living, both monetarily and personally.
1. Make a habit of writing your plans on paper. Trying to remember what you’re going to do the next day or whenever isn’t going to suffice. Writing, by hand, is mandatory. You should place your to-do list where you will surely see it every morning. As you begin this new action, try not to overwhelm yourself with a ton of new tasks. Start by doing small, simple things that you have not been in the habit of doing and work your way up to more advanced tasks.
2. In beating the habit of procrastination, the keyword here is HABIT. By doing a thing enough times, it becomes a habit…a mental track. Think of this way — every action you take is the same as walking through a forest and creating your own pathway. The next time you walk through that forest, you will naturally take the path you’ve already created. That’s the same way it works with your mind. Every action in which you engage leaves neural pathways in your brain, making it easier for you to engage in that action the next time around.
Before, I’ve tried breaking the habit of procrastination by going cold turkey. Meaning, I’d try to give up my old ways by simply quitting them, but that never worked. I would stick to it for a few days and eventually go back to my old habits. The trick was to replace old habits with new activities. For instance, if you have a habit of smoking, you wouldn’t quit smoking unless you found an activity that would replace the smoking activity. In the case of procrastination, you want to involve yourself in activities that will take you out of your comfort zone, to the point where those new, desirable activities become habitual. Going cold turkey almost never works because doing so increases the probability of relapse. You’re essentially trying to get by on will power alone. Therefore, I’d never encourage using sheer will power in order to break a habit, instead, faze out the old habit of replacing it with a new habit.
3. Is it absolutely vital that one understand that tomorrows are not in infinite supply. Every task that we put off until tomorrow only means that we have one less tomorrow here on earth. There’s no need to procrastinate because there’s no telling how many tomorrows we have left. I eventually came to the realization that one of the major reasons I procrastinated is because I believed (whether I knew it or not), that there would always be another tomorrow. Again, every tomorrow which you put something off, that is less time that you have to accomplish whatever you are seeking.
Nobody’s time is unlimited. Every second lost is gone forever. What it took for me to do was look back on my life at all of the time I’d wasted and to realize that that time is something I’ll never get back. That realization almost brought me to tears. While there was nothing I could do to change the past, I could certainly make sure that I didn’t waste time in the present and future.
4. Another method I employed to beat procrastination was self-suggestion. I would constantly suggest to myself the habits I wished to develop. Every time the desire to put something off would spring up, I would simply tell myself that I can’t afford to put a thing a off. It also helped to talk constantly, whether in meditation or in the silence of my own mind or even aloud, in order to drill these new principles into my subconsciousness. There was a time when I wouldn’t even a crack a smile because I was so serious about constantly remaining on-guard mentally to ensure that I wouldn’t slip back into my old ways. If that’s the way you have to be — do it.
Conclusion: Procrastination is a deadly disease that kills dreams. Fuck putting it off until tomorrow. The same way I fought every urge to put something off until tomorrow, I suggest you do the same. There are some self-help gurus who would tell you to act only when it feels good, but that’s that bullshit. Take ACTION, whether you are in the mood to act or not. You can’t permit any excuses…it could take just that one excuse for the old conditioned mind to creep back in and sabotage your results.
Remember this — there will come a day where you will have to pay the piper for the time that you’ve procrastinated and the bill is going to be huge. Begin to view every day of procrastination as you creating a deficit in your life — every second wasted means that you’re moving backwards, entering negative number territory. But, by taking action RIGHT NOW, you could begin to move forward, get back to zero, enter positive terriory and create a surplus in life.