In this post, Director of Leadership Development for EMP, T.J .DeBolt shares with us Five Steps to Crush Procrastination for Good!
There’s some really good news for you and some simple steps you can take to CRUSH Procrastination and get into ACTION!
OK, lets get started…
If you’ve ever been stuck right at the point of attack, when you knew what you had to do, but for whatever reason you just couldn’t find the energy or the drive to do it…
If you’ve ever felt the push or the pull of procrastination…
Then this article is for you.
By the way, you’re not lazy or indifferent to your dreams!
And you are absolutely worthy of your goals and your aspirations.
Procrastination is not the disease of the lazy, it’s simply something that happens to every single one of us.
The other day I was having a conversation with one of our awesome Fast Track students and she said to me…
“You know, one of the things that’s standing in the way of me and my success is that I’m lazy.”
I thought, well that’s interesting because if you know this person, you’d know that that is not at all a descriptor of who this person is.
I said, “Well, what do you mean you’re lazy?”
“Well, the fact is, I know this is important to me. I’ve got the dream. I want to go out there and make it happen but for whatever reason, I just don’t take the actions necessary.”
So, we took a step back and realized that she’s far from lazy.
She simply has what a lot of people are afflicted by and that is procrastination.
Procrastination happens to a lot of folks
It happens to people that are very driven.
It happens certainly to people who are “lazy” but more importantly, it’s misdiagnosed as the “lazy person’s disease.”
Procrastination is a condition that everybody goes through from time to time.
We’re going to talk a little bit about what causes it and more importantly how you can get out of it.
In fact, today, I’m going to tell you five things you can begin using right now to get yourself out of procrastination.
If you have ever experienced that sensation, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
You’re at the point of taking action, and for whatever reason you’re not doing it.
Or you wake up in the morning pretty clear on what needs to happen, but for whatever reason you don’t do the things you know you need to do.
Procrastination happens to literally every single person
And here’s the interesting part…
It doesn’t always happen in the areas of doing things that you dread or doing things you don’t look forward to.
I know that sounds crazy, but have you ever been somebody who has a real strong purpose behind something?
Perhaps it’s going to the gym, and whatever reasons show up, life, kids, responsibilities, for whatever reason, you start pushing your workout off until the end of the day and then all of a sudden, the end of the day comes and you missed that day.
This literally happened to me yesterday and I can tell you that I love going to the gym.
I love working out. It’s not something I dread.
In fact, it’s something I look forward to, but sometimes life gets in the way.
Typically speaking, what happens is this…
We get stuck with a “tug of war” between priorities
Here are the Five Steps to Crush Procrastination for Good
One of the first things you have to do in order to get past procrastination is…
1. Gain clarity of purpose
You know that I talk about what I consider the four pillars of a successful life:
If you’ve got those four things in clarity, then you can show up each and every single day with a sense of what you need to do.
You just simply do what you know you need to do.
Now, does that mean that every day is going to be “peachy keen?” Absolutely not.
Does it mean that every day is going to be smooth and you’re going to be in flow and you’re going to be all those things the woo-woo gurus talked about?
The answer is, of course, no, because if you’re pursuing something that you love and care about, you’re going to have rough days.
Yesterday was a doozy for me.
There were a lot of professional challenges that came up, that seemed to be mounted on the front end of the week.
Mondays are my favorite day of the week typically.
I love every day, but I embrace Mondays.
I purposely load my weeks up so that the heavy hard work happens early.
I attack the stuff that I don’t necessarily love to do, the stuff that I might dread, and I put it up front.
And yesterday was an absolute doozy because no matter how much I attempted to get through the stuff that happened yesterday, it seemed like one thing keeps stacking on top of the other.
I couldn’t quite figure it out.
And then a friend of mine who happens to be a real “woo-woo” said…
“Oh, Mercury is in retrograde.”
I have no idea what that even means. Mercury is a planet, that’s all I know. It’s the one closest to the sun.
I don’t know what retrograde means, and I have no idea how it has an effect on my ability to go out and kick ass, take names, and accomplish my mission.
But I can tell you this, Mercury is not holding me back from accomplishing my mission because I’m very clear on my purpose.
And my point to this is if you find yourself procrastinating, it’s a chance for you to step back and ask yourself what is my purpose here?
- Is my purpose to stay stuck?
- Is my purpose to be frustrated?
- Is my purpose to be in neutral or is my purpose to be in forward motion?
We’re going to talk about the forward-motion part here in just a second, but it’s super important that you answer this first part at the very beginning and the onset of procrastination.
The minute you start to feel yourself get stagnant, the minute you start to feel that tug, that pull, that almost seduction of procrastination, step back and ask yourself that question.
- Am I clear on my values and am I living in accordance with them?
- Do I understand what my vision is for this big thing that I call life?
- Am I on the path to accomplishing it and what is the purpose behind what I’m here to do?
- What is the purpose behind the thing I’m procrastinating on?
I admitted that yesterday, I procrastinated on going to the gym.
I had to step back and say…
“Well, what’s the purpose of going to the gym? Is the purpose just to go? Is it just to simply get in the car and leave the house? Because if that’s the case, then go to a coffee shop for crying out loud. Go see a movie.”
You have to step back and ask yourself, what’s the purpose behind what you’re doing especially the thing you’re procrastinating on?
If you’re procrastinating on getting that ad out there, ask yourself what’s the purpose of the ad?
The ad is not for you to become public and have people shame you and laugh at you and make fun of you if it doesn’t work.
The purpose of the ad is to enlighten people.
It’s to draw attention to a solution to their pain.
See how, all of a sudden it, becomes about somebody else, it becomes about helping other people?
What’s the purpose behind that ad or the blog that you’re writing?
What’s the purpose behind the Facebook Live that you’re procrastinating on doing?
Procrastination is not about laziness!
Procrastination is typically about insecurities, fears, or confusion.
If you can help clarify those things by looking at what the purpose behind the thing is, then all of a sudden, you start to break down the barriers and it becomes much simpler and straightforward to take the action.
I’ve often said, if I don’t accomplish the following things, then my head doesn’t hit the pillow.
This is an actual list I write each day.
I call this the “Power Five.”
It’s my little way of getting stuff done.
It’s five actions that I take every single day.
And my contract to myself is that I don’t go to bed until those things are done.
I don’t care if it’s two o’clock in the morning, if those five things haven’t been accomplished, then I don’t go to bed.
Now, I value my sleep because I know how important sleep is to my performance.
I know how important it is to my health, so that’s a very high priority for me.
You have to get crystal clear on your values, your vision, your mission and your purpose and make those your priority.
When you make them your priority, then all of a sudden, showing up to do the stuff you know you need to do is not a challenge at all.
The next part to this is…
2. Take it one step at a time
Now, the reason for this is because a lot of times, procrastination has very little to do with the drive to get it done.
Sometimes, we get overwhelmed.
There’s so much to do.
Even five things can be overwhelming.
The question that I asked myself is…
“What is it that I might do right here right now to take action?”
So, if you find yourself stuck, the question that you might ask yourself is…
“What’s the one thing that right now I have the power within my scope that I can actually do?”
A lot of times we step back and say…
“Man, I would love to get that ad done, but I don’t have any ad copy. I need to have it reviewed and I need to go find a photo or an image to put on it.”
We start making excuses about our ad budget.
“Oh, we should pause the ad because we don’t want to waste money.”
We start building all the reasons, really all the excuses, for not taking the action.
But we haven’t come up with the reasons that we’re going to actually do it.
Make your answers bigger than your excuses
Come up with an answer for every excuse you have but make the answer bigger, stronger, and more robust than the excuses.
And one of the biggest answers you can have to any excuse is what’s the one small, even if it’s a small action that you might take right now that will break the stall.
Remember, if you’ve taken one small step, it counts.
Think of it this way.
Let’s say my goal is to get to Antarctica and I know that Antarctica is exactly that way, that direction.
Let’s just say that it’s due south.
Let’s say that I’m facing south right now.
Then I know that I’m at “point A” but if I take one step forward even if it’s just two inches then all of a sudden, I am one step closer to my dream.
Now, it’s a small step.
It’s not necessarily something I’m going to throw a ticker tape parade for and it’s not something I’m going to sit there and celebrate all day.
But at least I did something.
At least it’s better than standing here and being overwhelmed and allowing that excuse to pull me under.
When you take one small step, you are no longer procrastinating and that’s something to be pretty stoked about.
One small step makes a huge difference because you are no longer in procrastination, period.
You’ve solved it.
Now, in order to stay out of procrastination, you have to keep moving forward.
Do the heavy lifting early in the day, early in the week like I was talking about.
My hardest workouts happen on Mondays.
My biggest tasks that I’ve got to do for my business and my profession, those things happen on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.
I start to kind of ramp things down on Thursday and then Friday is an admin day.
But my point is, is that if you do the heavy lifting first, and the hardest stuff early, the rest of the day, the rest of the week seems like a breeze.
Now, this brings me to my third step and I want you to pay close attention to this because it’s one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to entrepreneurship and that is…
3. Stop the Addiction for Motivation
Professionals do not need to be motivated, amateurs do.
If you find yourself procrastinating by going on YouTube and watching videos and listening to rah-rah speeches, stop it.
That stuff is not going to help you.
In fact, if anything, it’s holding you back.
That motivational crap is like getting drunk and going driving.
Nobody in their right mind does that.
The whole point is when you look at a motivational thing, you get a dopamine hit, that dopamine serves to bring you down.
It actually relaxes you.
It settles you down.
It tells you, “Hey, everything is cool, don’t worry about it.”
Instead, I would rather you be a little bit irritated.
I’d rather you have a little bit of a fire under your butt.
I’d rather you say…
“Listen, I don’t need motivational crap. I don’t need to listen to the videos. What I need to do is get into action mode.”
One small action will be far more inspirational and far more beneficial than any motivational meme, video, poster or quote could ever be.
I’m not saying that you’re an amateur but if you’re addicted to motivation, realize that’s a behavior of an amateur.
Professionals don’t need to be motivated.
Professionals are driven by taking action.
It’s a very important differentiation, folks.
If you want to have success in your business no matter how you define success and no matter what scale you want for your business, drop the addiction to motivation.
What does that mean?
What do we do in replacement of that?
Well, guess what?
The fourth step is…
We talk about the fact that you’re going to be doing just one thing, one small step.
Get away from the addiction to motivation and then value execution over results.
It’s one thing to take action.
It’s another thing to take the action and then stop and go, “Did we get the result?”
If I drop and do a hundred burpees and I stop and look at myself in the mirror, guess what?
I’m going to see very little if any change whatsoever.
But if I am committed to the execution, if I’m obsessed with the execution, if I’m obsessed with the idea that…
“Hey, I did something, I took that one small step,” then guess what happens?
Suddenly, I begin to see the value in the action as opposed to putting value on it only if I get the result.
The other day, I was talking to somebody about this and she said…
“Here’s the thing, nothing is working in my business.”
I said, “Well, that’s interesting. What do you mean nothing is working?”
She said, “Well, I’ve got this ad running and I’m getting a few leads but the leads are trickling in.”
I said, “Well, that’s a result.”
She said, “Yeah, but it’s not the result that I wanted.”
Okay, spoiler alert.
That’s going to happen…
The fact of the matter is…
- First, this person has an ad
- Second, they committed an ad budget to it
- Third, it’s actually running
- Fourth, it’s actually working because it’s getting leads
Now, it may not be working at the scale that they want it to yet.
That’s the key word – “yet”
So, if you say, “I haven’t made a sale,” follow it with the word “yet.”
If you say, “I haven’t made my return on my investment,” follow it with the word “yet.”
Find out what that does for your overall well-being but more importantly where your focus is.
I’m telling you, this is not a mind trick.
This isn’t some woo-woo crap.
This is the truth.
If I look at my balance sheet of life and I say to myself, “Well, here’s what I want, here’s what I got,” and there’s a gap.
The question I say is, “Well, what I want and what I don’t have is a ‘yet.’”
We don’t have that yet.
We haven’t built it to this scale yet.
When you take that approach, the focus is now on, “What might I do next?”
And that really brings me to the fifth step.
5. Don’t obsess over the results
Don’t throw yourself the ticker tape parade every time you take an action.
But more importantly, celebrate consistency.
Listen, if you can obsess over being consistent, you will be unstoppable, literally unstoppable.
Because suddenly, it’s not about being paraded across the stage and given an award because of something you did.
It’s about being acknowledged personally, internally by yourself for the fact that you show up on a daily basis.
The thing to celebrate is not the result.
All the result is, is a metric.
It’s just an indication of the quality of your plan and your execution.
That’s all a result is.
And yet we freak out over that stuff.
We’re like, “Man, I got a result,” or “I didn’t get a result.”
And suddenly, we make that part of our identity.
Well, stop doing that.
Procrastination happens when we can’t clearly see the value in what we’re doing
Procrastination happens when we fear or make something bigger than it needs to be or we put too much on our plate.
This means we have to get very clear on the purpose behind everything we’re doing, not just the big business, the actual steps we’re doing.
If we’re proofreading and rewriting our blog post, there’s a purpose behind that.
And if that’s the thing you’re procrastinating on, get clear on what the purpose is.
Number two is to get clear on just one thing, one small step you might take right here right now to break the stagnation.
Number three, motivation is for amateurs, so drop the motivation.
Instead, find that internal drive in yourself.
That internal drive comes through execution which is step four.
Execution over results.
Like you say, “Hey, I really want to do this. I know I’ve got to do this.”
That is the moment you actually take the action.
The more you can shrink that distance between those two points in time, that is where you become much more effective.
It’s not about productivity.
It’s not about motivation.
It’s about being effective.
I have a little notebook that I chart certain things whether it’s writing emails, going to the gym, or getting a good night sleep.
I make a small handwritten, pen and paper calendar.
And every time I get one thing done, I cross it off.
If I miss one, it’s a big red “X.”
And dude, I don’t like the color red anyway but I really hate red X’s when it comes to my execution log.
If you adopt that same thing and you say to yourself…
“Today is not my day to procrastinate, I’ll procrastinate on procrastination. I’ll put it off until tomorrow but today is about execution.”
If you take that attitude and you’ve got your little log where you keep a handwritten calendar and you cross off everything you get done in black and every time you miss one, you cross it off in red.
If you can get to the end of the month without any red, you are a winner.
If you get to the end of the month and you see some red and you say to yourself, “Well, what might I do?”
You’re a winner.
But if you sit there and look at the red and say…
“Well, it’s not so bad, I’m just a procrastinator.”
Then you’re going down the path of somebody who’s going to stay stuck.
You’re better than that.
You’re worth more than that.
Give yourself the investment of your time, effort, and focus into finding ways to get through your procrastination.
If these five tips work for you, put them to action right away!
Procrastination happens to people who care about what they’re doing.
Procrastination happens to people who are driven and sometimes, it happens to people who are a little bit burned out or overwhelmed.
Next time you find yourself procrastinating, get clear on your purpose.
Pick one thing and get after it.
Make sure that you’re not being addicted or sucked into the addiction of motivation.
Make sure that you’re committed to the execution as opposed to obsessing over the results.
If you must obsess over anything, obsess over the execution and obsess over the consistency.
Those two things, execution and consistency, are what will help you move forward and get past procrastination for good.
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