Most of us never get to live our dreams because we lack belief in our ability to achieve them. Pushing your dreams aside drains your energy, so you end up putting off the things you know you need to do until another day – tomorrow, next month, next year.
Procrastination is usually a sign that the life you’re living is not the one you long for. If your life revolves around doing things that don’t inspire you, you won’t be sufficiently motivated or energised to make the effort it takes to do them. Achieving a worthwhile goal generally means having to put in effort now for something better in the future.
Sometimes you procrastinate because it involves making big decisions, but more often than not you end up procrastinating over the smallest of things. That’s because there is a gap between the life you’re living and the one you dream of living. So how can you leave procrastination behind and start moving forward?
- Be true to your dreams.
You enjoy making great food, so you talk about opening your own restaurant, when deep down you actually want to live in the country and paint water-colours. The thought of opening your own restaurant scares you, while the thought of painting a beautiful landscape fills you with longing. So forget the restaurant, and start planning a move to the countryside. Don’t be afraid to ‘emotionalise’ your dreams to make them come alive – it works much better than rationalising them. Think about what it will mean to you and your family when you’re actually living your dream. Start enjoying the future now.
- Just get started.
Procrastination feeds off inertia. Use the emotional energy you get from ‘feeling’ what achieving your goal would mean to you, to get going. Doing something, no matter how small, gets you over the first, and biggest, hurdle – getting started – and begins to build the momentum that makes doing the next thing just that bit easier.
- Know what you need to do.
You procrastinate because you don’t know what you need to do next. By taking the time to get clarity and work out a plan of what needs to be done – in detail – you introduce some ‘hard edges’ to your project that will help you quantify what you have to do and when. That makes it easier to move forward while keeping you motivated compared to only having a blurry idea of what lies ahead.
- Think small before big.
Taking lots of small steps will get you where you want to go far faster than attempting to take giant leaps. When you are particularly stuck and liable to procrastinate, you may want to think in terms of ‘micro-tasks’, each of which is easy in itself. An hour spent researching house prices in your ideal area is both useful and inspirational.
- Learn to get on with things.
Also, accepting that some things just need to be done makes them easier to accomplish. Tasks become easier when you get rid of the emotional angst attached to them – a task is not just a task if you feel your whole future depends on it, it’s much more manageable if it’s just an item on today’s to-do list.
- Aim for completion, not perfection.
Maybe you procrastinate because you believe something has to be done so perfectly that it seems impossible to achieve, so you don’t do it at all. But something done well enough is better than something not started. It can always be improved afterwards.
- Track and celebrate your progress.
Use a wall planner, spreadsheet, diary or whatever works for you to capture evidence of your progress. Seeing yourself getting closer to your goal is a simple, powerful technique for keeping up your levels of motivation so you can overcome any procrastination that creep in.
Finally, remember that procrastination is often just a mountain of small things. So make a start, and keep going!
Maite Barón is a multi-award winning author passionate about courageous leadership, happiness and wellbeing. She is a co-founder of The Corporate Escape™, which specialises in helping professionals find their life purpose, rekindle their passion for life and reinvent themselves. She’s an international speaker and a regular contributor to the influential Huffington Post, Global Banking and Finance Review (GBFR) and Entrepreneur.