“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe
You know that song with the line, “The waiting is the hardest part.”? While I find that waiting can be tough, it is the starting that can be tougher still. Whether it is lack of motivation or not knowing where to begin because too many ideas are swirling around in your head, procrastination has a way of postponing your greatness.
All to often it is a fixation on perfection that get’s in your way. We use it as an excuse not to move forward, spending more time getting speculative ducks in a row than actually herding ducks. Well, you get the idea. While preparation is the key to success, the perfect time to start anything is not when things are finally perfect because most of the time they won’t be. You will never start. There is something to be learned in the stumbling around in the dark, in the making of your way and in the learning as you go. Lessons you will not get waiting on perfecting lines up ducks.
14 Tips to stop procrastinating, reach your goals and begin living your brave life today.
- Make a list or outline of steps you need to take. I am a big proponent of lists and the best ones include the steps you find yourself avoiding. Don’t just write a list and shove it in a drawer. Soon you will forget what is on the list and your back to square one. Revisit your list daily. Rewrite it often.
- Set deadlines. Time is of the essence and a key to your success. Without clearly defined stopping point you can easily find yourself in a just as equal dilemma of not finishing.
- Prioritize your steps to reach your goals. Get your highlighter out and look at your list and highlight the most crucial steps you need to take. Ask yourself if the steps you on your list will help you reach your goals or just keep you too busy to work on them. Scratch anything off your list that is not a priority.
- Break large tasks into small steps and check them off as you go. Just like in algebra you have to do some steps before multiplying and dividing others to get the correct answer. And so it is for your goals too. Algebra teaches formulaic thinking and problem solving. It never assumes that you should know the answer just by looking at the problem without taking the individual steps. If you focus on the whole you will fixate on trying to find the one answer rather than the multitude of correct answers that add up to the goal you are trying to achieve.
- Reward yourself for each achievement no matter the size. You deserve it. Constant reassurance will help you press on and a well placed carrot in the light at the end of the tunnel will do the same too. There is no better reassurance that you are on the right path than when you get to bask in the moments of reward for a job well done. Even that frothy warm Starbucks moment will do. Your reward does not need to be extravagant and you do not need to look to outside sources for every pat on the back. Be your own cheerleader and plan to treat yourself well.
- Give yourself permission to make a mistake. Fear of failure will hold you back. So often you learn what not to do first. This is a valuable lesson. Allow yourself to take it without self induced punishment and discouragement. This trial and error is the figuring out of things and keeps perfectionism at bay. The more you figure things out the easier it will be to reach your goals. Mistakes are not set backs, they are steps forward.
- Change your surroundings. Your work environment will play a role in your productivity, plain and simple. Trying to whip out a best selling novel on a laptop propped on your knee on the sofa with the television on will produce different results than sitting at a neatly organized desk. Know what you want to achieve and know that where you are sitting to do the work will have an effect on your outcome.
- Find a mentor, coach or accountability partner. This will shave years off the learning curve and point you in the right direction. Some of us work better under the watchful eye of a trainer keeping us on track and others are great without it. All of us can learn something from someone who has been there and done that. Listen closely, ask questions, take notes and tap into the wealth of knowledge that is yours for the taking.
- Delegate and ask for help. What ever made you think you had to or are the only one that can do the work. Find your resources and use them. When you can hire or ask a favor of someone else to check things off your list, you can focus on the things that truly only you can do.
- Eliminate distractions and temptations. It goes without saying, Facebook and Pintrest will gobble up your time. Trying to get a job done when the latest episode of Survivor is playing in the background will be futile. You know your vices, so turn everything off and put everything away that will draw your focus away from your task at hand.
- Visualize what your success looks like. Take a moment everyday to remind yourself why you are working so hard to reach your goals. Self visualization can be a great motivator. Allow yourself to daydream. See yourself in the place you want to be. Get used to the idea of it. The more comfortable you become mentally with where you want to go or what you want to achieve the less you will stand in your own way.
- Do something daily. Being consistent will do more for reaching your goals and preventing procrastination that anything. Making your success steps habitual will cause them to become second nature and allow you to focus on steps you may be avoiding to start or take. Nor can anyone accuse you of being a slacker. Daily steps keep you regularly engaged in your goals, help you see them clearly so that you can redefine as need and reward yourself often. Just as in the basic concept of inertia, things in motion stay in motion. As you start to achieve your goals, big and small, you will boost your self confidence and can do attitude.
- Believe you deserve it. Self sabotage is a sneaky method of procrastination that often we do not even know we are playing on ourselves. When you don’t believe you deserve to reach your goals you will do everything in your power to prevent your success, no matter how much you want it. Your belief in yourself will quietly grow your confidence as easily as doubt can cause it to crumble.
- Brag About It. Tell someone your goals, what you have achieved so far and how you plan to achieve more. Allow their knowing about it to motivate you to tell them the story of your forthcoming success in achieving your goal. Knowing others are aware of your goals whether they support them or not is a great motivator. You are either going to be saying, “I told you so”, to the naysayers or celebrating with the believers but either way you made a quiet commitment to achieve your goals when you let others in on them.
Procrastination is something that is always going to find it’s way into your life in big and small ways but it won’t rule your life if you take simple, deliberate and practical steps to avoid it.