You have a goal to reach but you often procrastinate. Why?
Let’s look at the three aspects of achievement, go through the process of elimination and determine where the problem of procrastination might exis so that you can get started again.
There are three aspects to reaching a goal:
1) Where you are
2) Where you want to be
3) The method to get there
Anything within these three spheres can be trip you up, prevent you from reaching the goal , encourage you to procrastinate.
Think of your goal as the far side of a lake. You are standing on this side of the lake. The lake itself is part of the journey to your goal.
Some people seem to jet ski right over to their destination quite easily. But you have barely dipped your toe into the lake, you have procrastinated.
So let’s look at where your biggest issue might be in the process of achievement.
WHERE YOU WANT TO BE/ YOUR GOAL/ THE FAR SIDE OF THE LAKE
One aspect of goal-setting and ridding yourself of procrastination is making sure that the goal is something you want. That might sound too simple, but -honestly- we’ve all been trained to believe that we should want this, we should pursue that. But do we really want those things?
Have you checked in with yourself to determine whether the goal is yours and not simply something others have told you that you should want? At times, we procrastinate because we do not want to achieve that goal and are in denial.
At other times, the problem is that what we wanted before isn’t exactly what we want now, but we haven’t noticed the change in desire.
Circumstances change. You change. The goal changes. Your attention, what’s valuable to you, changes. You should adjust as the variables shift.
Example – Let’s say you’re a bachelor who wants to climb the corporate ladder, so you work late on weekends and it’s no big deal. Suddenly you are engaged to be married. Is working on Saturday still interesting to you or would you rather use that time to become better acquainted with your future spouse?
If circumstances have changed, account for what it means and how it affects your perspective of your goals.
Write down not only the goal but the purpose for it. Review the purpose regularly to determine whether it still fits.
WHERE YOU ARE/ THIS SIDE OF THE LAKE
You have determined that the goal you are pursuing is the right one for you. Great! Then, your procrastination might be induced by a second aspect of achievement – your current environment.
Your physical space and surrounding area might be uninspiring. (Alter it to be a place where you want to live. Or perhaps it’s time to move.)
How you arrange your physical space or items can help or hinder you in your goal, they can induce procrastination.
Example – You have the goal of jogging more often. Arrange your life to make that more likely to happen. You might choose the CUE-ROUTINE-REWARD Method for this. You create a CUE or signal which reminds you to work on your goal. That signal might be to see your jogging shoes next to the bed or next to the door. Then you engage in the desired ROUTINE – jogging. Then you REWARD yourself with something that you enjoy very much – perhaps finally finishing that novel you have not made time to read. Whatever works for you. Eventually your mind and body anticipate the Reward just by interacting with the Cue. Voila! You have a habit and environment that helps you achieve your goal.
However, environment means not only the physical space.
That which you ingest mentally can be discouraging. ( Be careful of what music, movies, books and concepts you absorb. They could create self-defeating attitudes.)
That which you ingest physically can be energy-draining. (Eat the most health-giving food that you can afford.)
Those with whom you spend time can be knee-jerk negative people in general or those who find nothing beneficial in your goals. (Spend time with others who are more encouraging. You must counter-act the negativity with truth, of course, but also with the will and the team to help you see it through.)
Everything around you or in you is your environment.
You can use the CUE-ROUTINE-REWARD method on each aspect of your environment to help you create the habits you need to conquer procrastination.
THE METHOD TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOAL/ THE BOAT ON THE LAKE
You’ve decided that the goal you have set is the one you really want to reach. You have found ways to create an environment that will help launch you towards your goal.
But procrastination still has you by the throat.
Now let us consider the third aspect of achievement – the method to reach your goal. The method might trip you up.
Example – If you wish to rid your diet of all sugar, you might decide to toss out all sugar and anything else sweet from your house right now. In two weeks, you’re still craving sweets and you sneak out to a store late at night to buy a forbidden Snickers bar.
The “no sweets” method doesn’t seem to work for you, at least not at this stage. But you don’t give up.
You try a different method.
You decide that you will keep something sweet in your life, as long as it’s not sugar or chemical sweetener substitutes. You begin using exclusively Stevia Reboudiana – a naturally sweet plant with fewer calories than sugar. You hire a nutritionist to be your accountability partner.
You must continually tweak the variables that do not work for you with different methods.
Procrastination doesn’t necessarily mean you are a broken human; it simply means that the procrastinative behavior brings you something that you want. Do you want more time with your family, so you go home early, and that’s why you haven’t put in the time to turn in your TPS reports at work? Do you want not to smash your fingers again while hammering a nail and that’s why you’ve procrastinated on nailing those frames to the wall? Do you want to avoid a person at the party and that’s why you haven’t bothered to dress yet when it’s time to leave? Determine what procrastination gives to you and find another method to gain it.
Ridding yourself of procrastination and achieving your goal is like crossing a lake. How is the launching pad? Do you really want to get to the other side? What about your method to travel across the lake? Would you rather take a jet ski? A dingy? A paddle boat? Would you rather swim and test your mettle? Would you rather stay on this side of the lake –a familiar side- and make the best of it?
Understand that any one of these variables could be your stumbling block. Consider each of the three aspects of achievement, determine where the issues lie to get started again.
Above all, have patience with yourself and do not give up.
Further resources for stopping the habit of procrastination