It’s okay to admit it, there’s freedom in acknowledging procrastination is sabotaging your best made plans. For you, it may be a lifetime pattern, not finishing something until the deadline is looming, or not taking care of things until you can’t stand the site of your filthy car any more, or the stack of clothes on your bed that you’ve moved 15 times now to sleep.
When you stop to consider (and I hope you have) why you procrastinate—is it because “you just don’t, or didn’t feel like it?” Now think about it, every time you walk by the thing you need to do, you see it—it waves at you, or sticks its tongue out at you to say, “Hey! I’m still here waiting for you to take care of me.” And the longer you ignore it, the heavier it gets, and the more dread and guilt you feel.
I know because I’ve done it. I am at the root, motivated by deadlines, due dates and deliverables. It’s my true nature. Yet, my home is always clean, orderly and picked up (my bed is made when I leave it, the dishes are done before bed, and you won’t find any clothes lying around because personally, I can’t stand the mess) because that is also how I roll. The little things cause clutter; the phone call you need to make, the new software you need to learn, keeping your financials up-to-date, the To Do list that is only partially completed.
I’ve been asked on many occasions, how to change a habit. Here are a few thoughts I often share.
#1 – Recognize that it is a pattern, it is how you’ve functioned…up until now.
The great news is you always have a choice, every day you get to choose what action you take, what you respond, or choose not to respond to (this include technology distractions-energy vampires)
#2 – Decide why you want to change your pattern.
Can you find a rational reason that is motivating enough for you to shift the behavior? You cannot decide to lose weight because your husband or wife wants you to. You are the only person you can change and pleasing someone else isn’t motivation – that’s people pleasing.
#3 – Ask yourself, “Am I motivated by reward or consequence?”
Are you motivated by seeing more money in your bank account, which inspires you to take the action required to earn the bonus or sale in front of you? Are you motivated by seeing yourself in the size smaller outfit you fell in love with and want to buy?
Does reward not even rattle your chain, leaving you on the couch TV surfing and ignoring what you promised yourself you would do this year? If that is the case, you may be motivated by consequence.
It goes like this, if you do not clean out your car, or finish the planning on your upcoming project you commit to do something you really dislike…or hate. You write a check for $250 or $500 (or more, something painful) to a cause you don’t agree with, or you commit to go snowshoeing with your significant other or friend, when you hate the cold and fell 29 times on the last excursion. It’s creating a consequence that will be so painful for you, you’ll take action.
A client of mine recently made a commitment to take a person at work to lunch if she didn’t complete what she had committed to do. And she did not like that person!
Changing a pattern or habit is no different that taking an alternate route home. Every day you drive to and from work (or you used to before working from home) and if I stopped and asked you about your trip or a street name on the way, it is likely you couldn’t remember it (or the color of the lights on your dashboard) because you were on auto-pilot.
When I first bought my new home, I got lost driving to it more than once because I attempted to come from another direction and wing it, when I didn’t know the neighborhood. Now? you guessed it, auto-pilot, I don’t even notice the route.
Shifting patterns isn’t that difficult. It’s the willingness to create change (oh that word again!) and improve yourself and your life. It is removing the emotion from the decision. Letting of of the “I don’t feel like it,” and executing tasks as though you were programmed to do it and it is easy. Make a commitment to read a new book, watch less TV, spend more time with the dogs, or the kids, save money before you spoil yourself, follow through on your exercise goal, and easily say no to the cookie that beckons you.
It’s time to break up with procrastination and create a new relationship with what feels lighter, what has no heavy energy and dread to carry around, meet FREEDOM, your new (and true) best friend.