Mañana. Tomorrow. That’s when I’ll start my diet, go to the gym, quit sugar, dump my boyfriend, apply for a job that makes me happy... you name it. We've all said these things to ourselves at one point or another, but 'tomorrow' never really comes and suddenly it’s been months, even years, and you’ve still not made the step.
Waiting for the perfect circumstances to be in place, before we act on something is so common. This procrastination – the action of delaying or postponing something – consumes energy, valuable energy, so why would you do that to yourself? What’s getting in the way? Well, for the most part, many of us procrastinate for good reasons.
Why do we procrastinate so much
Perhaps we feel unprepared – perhaps we are limiting our choices based on what we have achieved in the past. Personally, I am definitely guilty of this too – making choices about not acting because I have nothing to 'prove' to myself that I am capable of actually doing it! Hey I’m a scientist by training and I want to know that if I commit to this, something will change.
Perhaps we procrastinate because we are lazy – shifting the status quo appears to require more energy than maintaining it. Or so it might seem when we have not yet acted. Often though, taking steps in the direction of your dreams, changing your life for the better actually shifts the energetic requirements because we are acting for what we really, truly want in our lives, which is easier than staying where we are unhappy, unsatisfied and unfulfilled.
Maybe we procrastinate out of fear – the 'I can’t cope failing' procrastination. It sounds trite but when you get to a certain point in your life, you regret what you didn’t do, not what you did do! It’s somewhat similar to looking at your face in the mirror. No one else stares that closely and critically at your face. Like your life – no one else stares that closely or critically at your life. Just go out and live it! And, if you do fall face down, remember this quote: Let your mistakes refine you, not define you.
How to fight procrastination and laziness
When you notice that little procrastination genie raising its ugly head, here's how to stop it in its tracks:
1. Take the first step
Commit yourself to the process (e.g. joining the gym, getting an accountability partner). Every journey begins with the first step – the one outside your head!
2. Show up for yourself
Open your calendar and create appointments with yourself for doing this thing (e.g. having the conversation, writing your memoir, applying for new jobs). It doesn’t have to be a huge commitment – remember consistency is the key to beating procrastination.
3. Don’t complain without change
Did you know that recent research showed that regular complaining reduces the area of your brain which is involved with creativity and problem-solving? That's proof enough that taking action and the right steps can help you stop being so lazy and accomplish your goals.
4. Don’t give yourself the time to out-think it
Our brains sabotage our actions on a regular basis. This happens when we give ourselves the time to rationalize ourselves out of acting. Mel Robbins, TED speaker and psychologist, articulates this beautifully with the first action of the day. When your alarm goes off, just get out of bed before you have time to think and press the snooze button. She calls this '5-second rule' the small space where idea and action are connected, when if you slow down and think, it becomes overthinking and before you know it you have not acted!
Now go on and make that list and know that you have the right tools under your metaphorical belt to accomplish your dreams and live happier and healthier!
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