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"I know what to do. I know how to do it, but somehow I can't do it. I find myself procrastinating all the time. I put off tasks that I know are important and then scram at the last minute to get it done." These are the exact words of many people that I coach or connect with.
You're not alone in procrastinating. Unfortunately, procrastination is one of the number one reasons why many people don't accomplish their goals. In this blog post, I will teach you three reasons why you procrastinate and a simple step-by-step method to overcome this problem.
While I was researching this topic, I was surprised to find out that procrastination is not just a time management problem. But it's so much deeper than that. It is actually way more psychological than it is related to resourcefulness.
That's why solving it with better goals or better discipline or time management techniques might not work for everyone.
Procrastination needs to be resolved at the root of the problem.
There are many great perspectives to attack this issue. So let's start with the three main reasons why you procrastinate.
#1 - Negative Association
You associate a task with pain, not pleasure, and that's probably why you may use procrastination for short-term relief from that possible pain. We are mostly only motivated by pain or pleasure. At the very basic level, if a task is pleasurable, you're more likely to do it.
So, if your brain associates that same task with pain, you're unlikely to do it. Your brain is actually saying, "hey, it's gonna be excruciating to go to the gym, so let's not do it".
# 2 - Triggers of self-doubt
The task that you're about to do triggers emotions of self-doubt. The task is getting you out of your comfort zone. Which may not seem like a good idea in the moment, because your brain and your subconscious are designed to protect you from discomfort. It really triggers a lot of fears and anxiety. And that is one of the reasons why we put it off by doing something opposite by doing something that we're comfortable with.
# 3 - You are not clear about the rewards
For the said task, you don't take the time to evaluate the rewards. And if we don't know the reward, then it's almost impossible to take on an action that is already challenging or already triggering negative sentiments. This has nothing to do with how much time you have, right? It's basically a neural pathway that is embedded in us, and keeps defaulting to not doing something because of a combination of these three things. Of course, there are more factors and more research, but for the sake of this post, we're going to keep it to these three wise.
How can you use these three WHYs to help you stop procrastinating?
Take out your pen and paper and let's do a simple exercise together...
Step 1 - Write down one task that you've been putting off for a long time.
At the top of a blank page, you write the goal you have been putting off the most.
"I want to start a blog."
"I want to start working out consistently." "I want to start making better financial decisions", or whatever this task is, just write it clearly on top of the paper. It can be a task, it can be a big goal.
Whatever comes to mind, just write it on top. Now at the bottom of the blank page, let's start writing.
Step 2 - Do I relate this task slash goal with pain or pleasure?
Ask yourself going to the gym, Is it painful? Or is it pleasurable? Be honest with yourself because if you're not honest, this exercise won't work. If it helps close your eyes and think for a minute, what is my current association with this particular task? And write it down? Pain or pleasure? Chances are if you've been avoiding this task for a while, there is some connection to pain. Whether it's a pain to get to the place, pain to get started, whatever type of pain it is, there's some association with pain. So just get aware of this association.
Step 3 - How can I change this feeling from a negative to a positive one?
What pleasure can I add to this painful task?
I like to call these blocks of joy. It's simply something like playing the music at the gym, listening to your favorite book in the gym, it's a hot cup of coffee while trying to get through a challenging course.
Write down one thing that you can add to this activity will trigger joy, which will help you switch the positive the negative feeling too positive ones.
Step 4 - State 1-3 long-term rewards that this task will get you.
So if you are going to start a blog, write down this will help me build my personal brand. This will get me a speaking engagement. This will become a source of income.
If it's going to the gym, it'll help me feel better mentally and physically. It'll help me lose weight. It will make me stronger. Just write down the rewards clearly.
Just list out the possible rewards you can expect from this activity in the long-term.
FINALLY, do not try to just do it.
Write down, just do it and cross it off.
We're not going to just do it; instead, commit to taking small, consistent steps daily.
So, for example, if you're trying to go to the gym for one hour a day, I want you to go to the gym for like 10 minutes a day for the next five days. If you're going to work on your blog, start with 10 minutes a day for the next five days.
A great example of this is the co-working sessions that I've been hosting for all my clients, especially for my Believe in Your Brilliance Academy members. We get together twice a week, and we work on small tasks daily. We're right now building two podcasts; we are working on a bunch of job searches. We're also working on a couple of clarity exercises. This in my opinion is the best way to reduce the overwhelm and start that progressing consistently.
End the exercise with a short commitment:
I will work on this task for just 10 minutes daily.
I will sprinkle it with blocks of joy, and I will make sure that I don't associate it with pain.
I will also keep in mind the rewards that are waiting for me on the other side of this task.
Finally never give up on any goals due to procrastination. Understand the deeper issues associated with it, find people, coaches, mentors and resources to help you every step of the way. Remember your ideas matter, your work matters and YOU MATTER.
If you want to learn from me more about how to stop procrastinating and start progressing, then join me for my free webinar happening on March 26 at 11am Eastern Standard Time. It's totally free. It's my first free webinar of 2022. I cannot wait to see you there and teach you all the things that I know about stopping procrastination and starting your progress.
With that giving you a big virtual hug. Thanks for reading!