You might believe that success is about coming up with great ideas or doing the impossible, but most success is the result of doing the mundane. It’s doing the things that no one wants to do. Whether it’s losing weight, getting a better job, doing well in school, or saving a million dollars, the process is largely unenjoyable.
In most cases, you know what needs to be done. The challenge is getting yourself to do it.
Dealing effectively with procrastination is getting yourself to do things you don’t want to do. It’s great practice for learning how to become successful! If you can defeat your procrastination, you can accomplish just about anything.
Consider the normal process of procrastination:
1. You think about doing something. Isn’t that how you start a task? You think about doing it.
2. You notice how it feels. Every thought generates a feeling or emotion. When it feels good, we do the task. That’s why it’s so easy to get off the couch to get a bag of chips. It’s not as easy to leave the couch to go outside and paint the gutters.
3. If it feels bad, you avoid it. You have your own, consistent ways of deflecting the task. Do you know what you do when you’re procrastinating? Make a list of the things you do to avoid a task.
4. When the feeling of putting it off feels worse than the feeling of doing it, you finally take action. You will eventually pay your taxes, take out the trash, apply for a job, or work on your term paper.
This is a very common process. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work well if you’re trying to get ahead or to prevent your life from descending into chaos.
Try an alternative method for dealing with unpleasant tasks:
1. When you feel bad about a task, get excited that you’re being given an opportunity to learn success skills. This is the moment that separates the men from the boys and the women from the girls. The least successful people are the worst procrastinators. Successful people do the hard things.
2. Take a minute. Just sit with your feelings and notice them. Sit with your discomfort. Close your eyes and breathe slowly. Notice where you feel the disturbance. Is it in your head? Your chest? Stomach? Try to relax that area of your body and release the tension.
3. Spend five minutes doing the task you want to avoid. Anyone can handle just five minutes. Getting started is the hardest part, so become an expert on getting started! You’ll often find that you’ll continue beyond your five minute goal. Congratulate yourself for lasting at least five minutes.
4. Forgive yourself for failing. Somedays you win, others you lose. Working through discomfort and defeating procrastination is a challenging skill to learn. Just get back on the horse and vow to keep trying.
Procrastination is a very human habit. There’s little doubt that its origins were helpful. Poor decisions could be disastrous 100,000 years ago. Our brains had to be thoroughly convinced that an idea was worthy of execution before it would allow us to act.
Doing something today that’s unenjoyable doesn’t make a lot of logical sense if it can be put off until another time.
Decide for yourself that right now is that time. Use your urge to procrastinate as fuel for learning to be successful.