Entrepreneurs Don’t Have To Be Victims Of Procrastination
I have a friend who is always doing things; not just anything, herculean things. She gets more done than anyone I know and I am always in awe! Recently her mother said that she has been like that since childhood. While other kids were resisting homework and tasks, my friend would get home from school, march up to her room and finish her homework before she would entertain doing anything else, even if it was sanctioned by her parents. She was and is wired that way.
I am not necessarily wired that way. Although I get things done, I have mastered the unfortunate habit of procrastination, and it’s not always good procrastination, you know, the procrastination that gives way to brilliant ideas followed by a surge of inspired activities. Nay, it does not always look like that. I laugh about it, but aside from the positives of procrastination, what is procrastination really costing us?
As entrepreneurs, our work seems like it’s never done, yet could this be a mindset we’ve developed as a result of the habit of procrastination? What would happen if we switched our energy from the drowning feeling of being overly tasked, to one of standing in our power, holding court over the things in our business that seem to control us? Would we continue to feel drained by the emotional state of incompletion, or would we flip that sorry state around and use a positive, more energetic emotion to position us powerfully in our business. Imagine the superpower of being like my friend—moving into the flow, getting things done, having less stress and bringing in more revenue. With benefits like these, why do we procrastinate?
While procrastination is a choice, research shows that it may also be a neural tendency, a default mechanism created in the limbic system of the brain. Some brain structures are equipped with larger amygdala’s and possibly a smaller dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the executive center of the brain. If it is true that brain structure can effect our proclivity toward procrastination, then it stands to reason that some people are more or less prone to “put off today what they can do tomorrow” or the next day, or ever. And while some of us may have a default tendency to procrastinate, we’re not stuck there. Through the use of our conscious mind (housed in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex), we can take steps to be the master of our default tendencies and actually re-write the programming of our brain. And in so doing, we can really become the master of our destiny. I believe that this requires a powerful shift in energy brought on by a desire for self awareness and a decision to change.
Proactively Resist Resistance and Overcome Procrastination
My mother used to tell me to just make myself do it. She was very disciplined; every day she had a plan and every plan had a list—she got things done. When she would encounter my resistance to school work, projects or tasks around the house, she gave me the simple yet motivational instruction to stop the mental gyrations, jump up and get it done.
She would encourage me by saying it would make me feel good. She possibly and unwittingly understood energy and the power of momentum, and the invaluable lesson that momentum is derived from an energetic choice. She was suggesting that I wrench myself from the magnetic pull of resistance, knowing that by getting started, passivity would quickly give way to the powerful flow of energy. Before I could resist any longer, I would be tackling the project, very much the same way I am now tackling the task of writing this article.
Use The Powerful Energy of Resistance to Resist Your Own Distractions
So it seems to me that in order to master our minds, rewrite our neurology and embed new habits, we need to become resistance warriors. What are the opportunity costs of resistance and procrastination for you? Imagine time passing and the feeling of having many unaccomplished dreams simply because you didn’t condition your mind to get up and get those unpleasant or difficult activities completed. Think of this as a battle with the lower neurological forces of your mind.
If faced with danger or in battle, would you want to be on the losing end? I don’t think so. I doubt most of us in truth want to be victims, so do this to get fired up and get out of procrastination; confront distractions with the intention of destroying the enemy. Proactively resist your own resistance like a powerful ninja. Imagine that your actions have an intense electrical current flowing through them, with the strength and force to create flow in your business and life. This is the power necessary to break free of resistance and get things done.
I have created my own methods for breaking through resistance barriers and upleveling my energy or state of mind into one of action rather than passivity. Many entrepreneurs, through their struggles with resistance and procrastination, have come up with a few great ideas that have addressed this. I too have developed a formula to overcome procrastination from my own experience and from the experience of others.
First of all, I am a big proponent of self awareness or self understanding. My top strategy is journaling. Do this immediately upon awakening in the morning. I spare no thought during my journaling time. If something is bothering me, it’s brought up to the holy tribunal of my journal and I don’t quit sharing until I’ve figured out the cause of what is disturbing me.
Some recommend a hand written journal, but I prefer digitizing my words and locking them safely under the protection of a password—I want to be able to say anything and everything, otherwise I find that journaling is not as effective a tool to get to the depths of self awareness.
I also frequently do a review of my values during the journaling process, particularly if I am feeling emotionally obstructed to getting things done. If you find you are mentally or emotionally obstructed in getting a task done, it is helpful to ask yourself if there are any underlying values that are competing with the goal of the task that you are trying to complete. If you dig deep (the more pain you feel the deeper you will go), you will get clear on this so that you can move forward with full charge. I also recommend hiring a coach, one who really understands mindset and can motivate you to take action.
7 Energy Infused Steps to Overcoming Procrastination for Good
Here is the formula I have found to be the most powerful motivating force in my life:
1. Make a decision to get started and just do it.
Think of movement as energetic thinking vs. passive or magnetic thinking—one has a positive charge, the other, negative. Choose to tap into the power that is available to you. Remember my mother’s words; just make yourself do it. When you make yourself get started, passivity quickly gives way to the powerful flow of positive “take charge” energy and before you know it, you’re tackling the project. Now you are psychologically equipped to power up against passivity with proactive force and you get to work effortlessly.
2. Continue making powerful decisions and decide to avoid distractions at all costs
During the time I have been writing this article, I’ve already ignored several calls and texts—trust me, the impulse to pick up has been very strong, but then I remembered my decision to get one article done. A better idea is to put your devices in another room with the ringer off and exercise impulse control.
3. Be a doer and celebrate when the task is done.
Visualize yourself being on the winning side. Use positive words like I’m going to do this, I choose to do this, and avoid victim energy words like “I have to” or I “need to”. Own it and take charge.
4. Focus on the long game.
Ask yourself what is in it for you if you get things done; is it a larger client roster, increased revenue, less stress, more ease, a better life, more time with your family? Firmly attach your view of the long game to the values you acknowledged during your morning journaling.
5. What are three larger things you want to accomplish (I call them rocks)—write those down, then chunk them into smaller actions so that you can reduce overwhelm.
Each day prioritize three of the smaller actions that you must get done and do those, just those. The rewards of getting those three small goals done, at a minimum, are going to create powerful momentum for movement and you’re going to want to do it again and again. Celebrate how good you feel for completing those steps. Do this everyday and within a week’s time, you’ve got fifteen small tasks done, and you are that much closer to completing your bigger goals.
6. If you got started on a task and find yourself in the flow, great!! Don’t stop
Use this energy to accomplish as much as you can. However if you are sputtering and not connecting to the task, i.e. finding yourself procrastinating, then start out slowly by doing the simplest of actions—one foot ahead of the next. Do this in 15 minute increments. For example, open up that mounting pile of research notes in your document folder, review the list of ideal clients to contact or start by creating one, review your sales script and client messaging—do a quick rewrite. Now take the next step, what is that? Keep going, you are making progress—soon you will be tackling the project and be happily in the flow. And if not, go back to the journal and figure out what is standing in your way.
7. If you find passivity setting in again the next day, journal about it first thing in the morning and then get the energy moving by doing something physical; running, push ups, etc.
Get the blood flowing and put that proactive resistance to use combatting the biggest dream killer in our lives—passive resistance. And then start over by implementing step one.
A Final Note
Procrastination is an ingrained habit that requires focused strategies in order to overcome. The latter are the most powerful strategies I use to catapult myself out of procrastination. I post a copy of this formula on my wall above my desk, because believe me, sometimes the overwhelm of resistance and procrastination is blinding and we forget what to do next. Instead of relying on memory, create processes that are posted in plain site.
But the most important thing is to simply make a decision each and every morning that you are going to battle the tendency toward putting things off. Set a powerful intention and know that you are going to win this. Be on the winning side and make your life and your business great. No regrets.