How many times a day do you put off doing something that you really want or need to do? A chore, a desired goal, an important conversation, or even something to enhance your life like exercising or reading a book? How many of those “somethings” can you look back and see trailing behind you like a ball and chain?
Yet still you put them off, procrastinating your life away. There is always a good excuse why we don’t take care of business right then and there. You are tired, you haven’t the necessary enthusiasm or focus, too many other things still need to be done, or simply that the moment’s not right. You want to start on a Monday, or a new month, or even a new year.
But the longer we put something off, the more daunting it appears. Even though we know there’s no time like the present, still we take no action. Instead we stress over these neglected tasks/goals, allowing them to weigh us down. We make lists and more lists, hoping that written organization will help lighten the load. That’s a good start, but we drop the ball on taking action from these lists.
It comes down to this: what’s stopping you? Procrastination! The dictionary definition is: to defer action; delay; to put off doing something, especially out of laziness…to procrastinate until an opportunity is lost. Why do we procrastinate? Because it’s easier. Taking action is scary, and more importantly, it’s hard when you are already spent to exhaustion.
Many clients have sought my help in teaching them how to end the vicious circle of desire vs. time vs. drive vs. knowledge. In other words, they have a desire or need, but feel so inundated with obligations they have no perceived time in which to tackle the new desire/need. If time is not an issue, then they have no motivation (drive) with which to handle the task. Lastly, they cite lack of knowledge as a stumbling block. How, where, when to begin?
While there are a lot of ways/tools that I can teach you to become a proactive “do-er”, here are a few quick tips to help you overcome procrastination:
1. Organize: Create two lists of all tasks/goals. Designate which are NEEDS and which are WANTS. Make sure that your goals are realistic and achievable.
2. Prioritize: Now create one prioritized list of your needs and wants. It is good to have wants interspersed with needs so that your time and energy is not exclusively spent on needs. We tend to feel a better sense of accomplishment when we take care of want to’s along with must do’s.
3. Start Fresh: Clean up your environment. Piles of papers, or disorganized drawers, cupboards and closets, should be your first line of attack. Sort the piles, throwing out everything truly unnecessary. Place the remaining into neat labeled piles (i.e., filing, receipts, projects, etc.). Organize rooms, desks, cabinets, closets – one at a time until your space is in order. It may seem overwhelming, but just grab a trash bag and start the process. If you organize just one room or space a day (a single drawer counts too), then before you know it your house is in order. This alone will go far in keeping you motivated for more aggressive goals.
4. Start Small: Tackle each task one at a time. As you get better at prioritizing and time management, then you will be able to multitask and handle more than one goal at a time. If any particular goal is multi-layered, break it down into manageable chunks. It is always better to have a week of mini successes rather than forging ahead towards one big achievement months down the line.
5. Stay Positive: Focus on what you accomplish rather than what you do not achieve. Remember, the cup is half full, not half empty! Crossing items off your list is a visual confirmation of successes.
6. Just do it: To quote Nike – JUST DO IT. Get up, take a step, and do what your brain and body is fighting against. Pick up the phone, grab that book, clean out your closet, go to the gym – whatever it is, just one foot in front of the other and do not accept a NO from your brain.
Please understand that resisting procrastination does not mean you must constantly be in action. It’s important to take time to relax and rejuvenate. But ultimately, nothing elevates your mood more achievement and completion. The opposite of procrastination is urgency. Urgency motivates us to achieve. So if you need rallying, just reclassify that need or want as urgent, and ask yourself what’s stopping you?
Change is scary. Change is inevitable. Change is good – when we make it happen. Nothing ever stays the same. Change is a fact of life that starts the minute we’re born. The question is, do we fight it, do we become victim to it, or do we grow and learn? There are three basic types of life changes that we deal with at any given time.
Change that is thrust upon us;
Change that happens around us which we then evolve with; and
Changes that we actively create or pursue.
It is this third type that I wish to address. Changes that we make happen.
Creating a major life change is simultaneously the most intimidating and rewarding experience. To dream of a goal, set on out the daunting path towards it, and then, often against many odds, achieve it – there’s nothing more satisfying. Unfortunately, more often than not, nothing comes of those dreams. Why? In a word, fear: fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of rejection. Those fears manifest in excuses such as not enough time, not enough money, or lack of confidence.
As a Mom there’s an even bigger reason why you have not achieved certain dreams and goals. There’s already too much on your plate! Between caring for the kids, possibly working an additional full or part-time job (the kids are already a full time job), cooking, cleaning, running errands – Mom’s needs always come last.
But no matter how packed your world of responsibilities is, you must make time for yourself. Not only because you deserve it, but because actions speak louder than words. Showing your children that Mom’s time and needs are just as valuable as theirs, teaches them to do likewise when they are parents. (I’m not saying that it should become “all about you,” I’m simply advocating the personal growth and health of every individual in the household.)
Now, while you may know you need to make a change, you may not know what to change, or how to change. The what and how are easier than you might think. It starts with defining the what and then detailing the stops of the how. Then all you have to do is take baby steps of action!
1. Write down your top three goals or dreams. Don’t judge them, or label them impossible. Just word them simply, make sure they are a true goal you have passion for. Be sure to always state them with a positive outcome (i.e., I want to run my own business instead of I want to stop working for someone else, or I want to run a 10k race instead of I wish I had more time to exercise).
2. Now focus on one goal at a time. Choose the one you feel is the easiest achieve at this time, or the one that you currently have the most passion for. Then list the pros and cons of that goal. The obstacles in your way are the cons, and the enrichments/rewards to you and your life are the pros.
3. Next, place the pros list in a prominent location where you can see it on a daily basis when you need motivation. Visualize these stated “rewards” happening to you. Visualization is a powerful tool toward achievement, don’t underestimate it!
4. Finally, take the cons list and tackle one obstacle at a time. Baby steps. One obstacle, fear, or uncertainty, at a time. Just commit to that one little change until it’s no longer in your way. Then move on to the next. Might take a few days, or months. But it’s movement vs. stagnation, and it’s a positive approach to being in charge of your destiny.
Whether your goals are weight loss, improved relationships, or a change of job or career, attainment is within your grasp. There is no failure in the attempt. Failure is only in lack of trying.
If one thing that holds you back is money (or lack thereof), at the risk of sounding trite: where there’s a will there’s a way. Being cash poor is not an acceptable excuse to keep you from your dreams. Goals definitely take longer to accomplish without money, but it can be done. Just look at millionaires like Oprah Winfrey or J.K. Rowling (author Harry Potter) who all started with nary a penny.
Lastly, to all you Moms out there, be sure to involve your family in this. If your children and spouse understand your motivation behind this desired change, and see your conviction and passion, they will support you whole-heartedly. Family and friends will rally to your corner if you just reach out and communicate.
If you need more specific help, find a mentor. Someone who’s been there and done that. Or take a class at the local rec center or community college. Educate yourself. One class in your goal subject can do a lot towards boosting self-confidence and progressing you down that list of cons.
Do not be intimidated. This is your life, and it is yours to change. Just one step at a time. Make plans, set goals, take action. Remember, change is inevitable. Change is scary. But change – that we make happen – is good!