My name is Jan. I’m a recovering procrastinator. I can relate to those of you who never do today what they can put off until tomorrow. And I know that hideous procrastination cycle all too well.
You decide to get healthy, organize your house or any number of other changes that would make your life better if you just did them. Your motivation is high at the start. You envision your new life in vivid detail and go to sleep confident that tomorrow begins the new you.
Then tomorrow comes, and you realize it’s easier to plan your game than to play it. Perhaps you stumble a little the first day. Maybe you just realize that working out or cleaning closets isn’t your cup of tea. Motivation quickly fades into guilt and you put off the new you until tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow….
Put off the procrastination shackles for good. Here are a few tips to do just that.
1. Choose it or lose it! People often say “I always put things off” as though procrastinating was just as natural to us as blue eyes or brown hair. But procrastination isn’t natural. It’s actually a learned habit of avoidance. We procrastinate and avoid a goal if it makes us uncomfortable in some way.
Don’t let past habits define your life. Choose or lose your goals today by asking yourself WHY:
What does this goal mean to me today? Do I want it anymore?
How must my life change if I am to reach this goal?
Yes or no? Is this goal worth the effort to me or not?
If your WHY is convincing enough, then choose to make this goal happen. If it’s not convincing, lose it and save yourself the time and energy you put into procrastinating.
2. Make it manageable. We put off some goals because they’re too big and scary to deal with all at once. Instead of putting off the whole thing, break up your goals into small, manageable pieces. Start with something that you can complete in 15 minutes. Organize one shelf in one closet instead of THE WHOLE HOUSE. Walk for 15 minutes instead of running a 5K. Taking one step at a time, you’ll reach your overall goal without being overwhelmed by it.
3. Failure isn’t fatal. Procrastination is often easier than facing failure. Remind yourself that you don’t need to be perfect. No human being is. You only need to give your best effort at each step. Be gentle with yourself when the steps become difficult. Take your failures as opportunities to learn and do better next time.
4. Don’t put off celebration! Celebrating success after each small step will boost your self-confidence and make future successes more likely.