Quote Of The Week 9 – 2017
Why You Struggle Getting Things Done And How To Overcome Procrastination
“A year from now you may wish you had started today.” – Karen Lamb
Almost a year ago I started Holistic Life Transformation, and I am glad that I did. However, I am not immune to procrastination even I have seen what is possible within one year. Just like many of us, I face procrastination on a quite regular basis, maybe not daily but at least weekly.
There are simply things that we avoid to do as long as we can until time pressure kicks in. At the same time there are ways to mitigate the causes of procrastination and getting things done before it is too late.
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Why You Struggle Getting Things Done
I have identified for myself what causes me to find excuses and losing focus on doing what matters, which eventually keeps me procrastinating. Knowing these causes is the first step to overcome procrastination to get things done.
Lack of skills (“I am not good enough”)
Many people fail to get started in the first place thinking they lack in talent, skills, or both. Unfortunately, many don’t realize that life itself is about learning. Learning is about growing and growing is what life is all about. If you stop learning you essentially stop living because you are unwilling to change and adapt.
In order to achieve your goals you need to analyze what skills and knowledge you lack and then get started to close the gap. You won’t get better if you are not doing it.
Your skills are not going to improve unless you use them. And if you don’t use them you can’t get better. As soon as you start you are going to make valuable mistakes that will help you to get better and move on from there. It is just so much better to make mistakes because it shows you that you are moving!
You cannot find the right way if you don’t even start walking.
Before I started this website I had no idea how I am going to do it and how the website is going to look like. Learning to do just that has been the first and most essential step and I am still learning. Furthermore, the decision to set it up in English and not in my mother tongue in order to reach more people definitely stretched my skill level.
I am still learning how to write better posts and to improve my way of writing and surely I fail here and there. But as you can see, continued learning helped me to overcome procrastination.
Fear of failure (“This needs to be perfect”)
Some people just do things if they are 100% sure that they are not failing. Every mistake will lower their self-confidence and will be treated as a personal defeat. However, chances are that you are missing out the best opportunities in your life even they are right in front of you. Fear of failure is just another form of worrying about what other people think of you. Letting go of perfection is where perfection begins and keeping your goals secret can be best way to be successful if you worry about other people’s opinions.
If you think about it then the only failure is not doing it in the first place. Only then you know that you are going to fail. On the other hand, if you get started and keep trying then you have already a much bigger chance of success. So in the end, you have nothing to lose, because if you decide to stay where you are you have already failed.
I know that my website is not perfect at the moment, but I know that it is good enough for now at least. As soon as I reach a certain point, I am going to adapt and improve. Fear of doing something wrong would have kept me from publishing my first post. Without the first step there couldn’t be a second one and without writing that first post back then, I couldn’t be writing this one right now.
Fear of success (“How can I be better than this?”)
An even bigger fear for many of us is the fear of actually being successful. This might not be so obvious first but let me explain.
Being successful means also standing out of the crowd. Once you are there you are expected to continue to deliver good results and even perform better than you did before. This can actually be scary for many people because it means to leave your comfort zone and daily routine. With this comes responsibility not only for your actions but for your life in general.
Many people prefer to stay where they are because they don’t want to take over more responsibility. At the same time they don’t realize that they give it away and let others decide what to do with their lives. Instead of working on their own dreams they continue to work for other people and build their dreams instead.
If you are unwilling to take responsibility for your own life, then someone else is going to take it from you.
Lack of motivation (“Well, I can do it later, or tomorrow, but not now.”)
Every motivational problem will sooner or later turn into a time problem, or to say it with the words of Rita Mae Brown:
“If it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done.”
Unless you understand the importance of the task you are performing you are hardly getting motivated. Ask yourself WHY this needs to be done and try to see it from a broader perspective.
Prioritize the tasks at hand and get your motivation on the go. As soon as you start doing something you will an inner drive to complete the task, knowing why it is important, and why your actions increase the overall value of the outcome. Let the vision of the outcome be your motivator. The sooner you get done with it the sooner you can do things you enjoy.
What helps me before a workout is to just put on my sport clothes even I don’t want to. This initial effort makes me feel being half way through the session already. The alternative of changing again and doing it another day seems suddenly less appealing than just finishing what I have already started.
Lack of interest (“This stuff is boring”)
Well, this one I know very well. Either I am all in or not. When I am not interested then I am not doing it. End of story.
If we are not interested in doing something we easily get bored. And getting bored is a sign that you are not doing the things that you are supposed to do. In this case you should learn how to never feel bored again and do stuff that you are interested about.
However, there are still things we have to do sometimes. In this case it helps to see the bigger picture and why it is going to benefit you in the end.
Then just grit your teeth and get to it. There is not much you can do about it. Getting done with it keeps you from thinking and worrying about it any longer. Instead of seeing the negative aspects of it try to give it a positive meaning.
Resistance (“I am not doing this”)
Sometimes we need to do stuff that we don’t want to do. Then we actively procrastinate due to our unwillingness to perform. In this case you need to understand the consequences of what happens when you are not going to do it. Make the bad consequences or a probable reward in case of giving in a driver for your endeavor.
Whatever we resist gets stronger. By rebelling and resisting you choose to hand over control of your life to those you rebel against. You allow them to take control of your emotional state and attitude. Instead of fighting what you hate you should focus on creating what you love.
Fatigue and lack of focus (“I am too busy”)
I realized that it seems to be quite trendy these days to be “busy” Being busy gives you all kinds of excuses not being able to work on what needs to get done. Either you are very busy and need distractions to relax or you being busy makes you feel distracted and eventually tired. Time for relaxation.
Don’t get me wrong, if you plan to waste your time, then your time is not wasted because everyone needs to recharge and relax. However, the normal state for many of us is to rush through our busy lives to get nowhere fast. This keeps us exhausted and losing focus on what truly matters.
These are perfect conditions to not follow along with our dreams. Prioritize you actions and schedule your time for what matters to you in order to reach your goals. Remove any distractions and make it easy for you to get started.
Lack of overview I don’t know where I should start
Very often we get overwhelmed by the obstacles that are in front of us. Instead of seeing what is blocking your way, try to see where you want to be. Envision yourself having achieved your goal already and let it help you to make the first step.
Also take away the pressure from your shoulders and give yourself the time that you need. Realize what you have achieved already and get into an attitude of gratitude. This will shift your focus from “lacking what you need” to a “lack of need because you already have”.
Creating from a state of abundance will help you to be more at peace with the current situation.
Also, make it a habit to work daily on your goals one step at a time.
How To Overcome Procrastination To Do Things That Matter To You
Now let’s dive deeper and find out how to overcome procrastination by understanding why you do it in the first place. Then I will tell you how you can set the right conditions for you to overcome procrastination for the things that really matter to you like living your life purpose and reaching your highest goals. What makes us unhappy is keeping things unfinished after we started. So overcoming procrastination will make you more successful, and hence, your life more pleasurable and enjoyable.
Procrastination starts in your mind
All of your thoughts and excuses just exist in your mind. Realize that you are not your thoughts. Lift the veil of unconsciousness and see the illusion behind it. Your brain does not know the difference between what is real and what is just a thought.
However, the emotional response is going to be the same. Procrastination is nothing but a decision based on your emotions. Those emotions are caused by false thoughts, assumptions, and fears that are nothing but imagination.
They exist only in your head and are not reflecting the situation you are in right now. The situation is always neutral; it is your mind that judges consistently.
You are not your thoughts
Get aware of your thoughts not being you. In fact, in Kemit (old Egypt) the mind (and the voice in your head) was considered to be a sensory perception, just like seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting, and feeling. This is a very captivating way to look at it, isn’t it?
It liberates you from your false identification with your thoughts. You are the observing presence behind your thoughts. You are not what you smell or what you see, aren’t you?
So you are also not your thoughts just because you think. Is it you actually thinking or just someone communicating to you? This may sound a bit paranoid, but unfortunately this is what happens to every one of us, unless we learn to free ourselves from this. Just look at our word and the way many people behave, and it suddenly looks not that strange anymore.
Stop running away from the present moment by understanding the power of now.
Two types of thinking
There is passive thinking where you just don’t move or act and just think stuff that either distracts you or keeps you away from doing what you want.
And there is active thinking, which you do being busy like typing this very sentence, working out, or tidying up your room.
So doing something stops distracted passive thinking.
With action comes active thinking.
With active thinking comes focus.
When you do stuff, your attention is directed to the present moment. This is where your mind is actually very useful. Once you are in the flow, or in the “zone” how I like to call it, then the actions you are conducting need all of your attention. You produce instant solutions and corrective actions in order to fulfill your task.
For example, when I moved out of my old apartment I had to stack all my stuff in a bit too tiny van and had to really use every little space. It would not have helped me to sort it out in detail before. I knew I had to start with two big and heavy pieces, the rest just followed afterwards due to active practical thinking. I just kept packing and kind of automatically arranged everything just in a way that everything got in. I believe that each one of us has this practical intelligence and that you can only develop it by being active.
It doesn’t matter whether you arrange words, furniture, code, equations, or dishes, you have to be focused to do it. And when you do it right then you are in the “zone” where nothing can and will distract you because you won’t allow it.
How to get in the zone?
Preparation! Make sure that everything is in reach and then get started.
Set the entry barrier very low so that you can start right away. What I need to write my post are my headphones with some ideally non-vocal music, my notes and a pen and then no further distractions. Then I just keep looking in awe at the prompt producing one letter after the other.
But why should I start?
You have to have a very good reason and vision of your goal. Know your why!
But how can you get over and over in a highly productive state of mind where you actually get things done?
The key is to make it a daily commitment which is nothing else than forming a habit.
Change your habits
With a habit you run on autopilot, your subconscious mind. You are not using your willpower in order to do what you have to do, you just do it out of habit. Fortunately, it works with good habits as it works with bad ones.
Change your habits to the good ones in order to reach your goals on autopilot.
There is basically only ONE thing that you have to do to change your habits.
What is that?
I am glad that you asked.
You have to understand what happens in our brain when we are developing habits.
The term neuro-plasticity describes the brain’s capability to reconnect neurons with each other. What happens is that in some regions we have more connections whereas in others we have just a few depending on what we focus on.
Think of it like a highway in your brain. The effort for your brain to perform a habit is like driving on an empty straight highway, sun is shining, and you just glide down the road, enjoying very much what you are doing. However, there could be much more cars on the highway and you still could go smoothly your way.
Rewire Your Brain
Now when you decide to change your habit you have to leave the highway (comfort zone) and go the small tiny road. It will take you longer, it is more exhausting, and you could get stuck easily. You need a lot of willpower to take the long route instead staying on the fast lane.
But the more you and other cars use the small road it will have to get bigger in order to keep up with the traffic.
So in short: You have to create new connections in your brain for a new habit. You need to overwrite the existing program in your head. This takes a lot of willpower at the beginning to get started and even more to keep going. The keyword is repetition. Repeat what you do over and over again.
Keeping your habits
Once we think we have beaten procrastination we start to let down our guard. We miss to do it once, yeah, not a big deal. Then we miss it a second time. Well, I am still in good shape, I am getting right back in the morrow.
After a while you realize that you have got out of your new habit and procrastination has you all back in its claws.
So another way to overcome it is to keep track of your actions.
Make a check in your calendar each time you performed that action and then don’t break the chain. The longer it gets the more likely you are going to stick to it because you don’t want to break it. This definitely works. The only problem is to make it also a habit to start a chain in the first place and to actually stick to it.
One day you realize that you just need much less willpower than before, it has become a new habit.
Is there an easy way to change your habit?
Stop procrastination with hypnosis
Well, there is. And besides mere repetition you can do hypnosis. At least this is what I use. This of course requires repetition as well but with hypnosis you make your brain starting to rewire by just telling it to do so.
Hypnosis is a natural brain state in which you are not fully conscious what is happening around you but very receptive for what you focus on. In essence your body could be asleep while your mind is fully awake. Examples of light hypnosis are watching TV or reading a captivating book.
So How To Overcome Procrastination?
The best way in my opinion to stop procrastination is to do all the things I described above plus listening to an eliminate procrastination audio hypnosis track.
Since I use self-hypnosis to overcome procrastination I have become way more productive and it is actually a lot of fun. The same applies to other areas in my life where I use hypnosis.
So there you have it. I hope you enjoyed reading this post. Let me know what makes you procrastinating in the comments below.
Start your holistic life transformation and change your life today to become your greatest version. Let’s make this world a better place by stopping procrastination and doing things that matter to us and others.
Have a wonderful week my friend.