“Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today.”
– Benjamin Franklin
Procrastination delays life. It’s a major reason for shame and self-frustration. Sometimes, we wonder why we can’t just do what we need to do. The answer is simple, but it isn’t quite as simple as “just do it.”
Not many realize this, but with deep roots that tie into perfectionism, procrastination is impervious to most surface-level attempts to thwart it. It is not a motivation problem. To stop procrastinating, we must think very targeted thoughts that attack its roots. Here are five thoughts that stop procrastination from the source!
1. “It can be flawed.”
Say you’re procrastinating on writing your book. It’s probably because you want the book to be really good. A secret that all seasoned writers know is that the first draft is never pretty. This creates a dichotomy between what you can do and what you want to do. Until this discordance is resolved, you’ll stay inactive.
To empower yourself to do amazing things in life and to conquer procrastination most of the time, all you have to do is give yourself explicit permission to be and act imperfectly. This closes the gap between what you want to do and what you can do and enables you to take action.
Procrastination is rooted in perfectionism, so when you stop aiming for perfection, the floodgates of productivity will open for you. Try it and you’ll see.
2. “What’s one good thing I can do right now?”
Procrastinators are perfectionists, and one way that substantiates is the desire to choose the very best task. With nearly unlimited options, trying to pick the best course of action can paralyze us. By thinking in terms of something good you can do right now, you take off some of the pressure to make the perfect decision.
Doing something good beats thinking about doing something great.
3. “How can I make this easier?”
The solutions so far have been targeted thoughts to decrease internal resistance to action. One of the most basic ways to decrease resistance is to make your target behavior easier. And the best way to do that is to shrink it!
- Instead of aiming to write 2,000 words, aim for 50 (you can always write more).
- Instead of pressuring yourself to find a wife, try to find a friend.
- Rather than attempting to build a profitable business, attempt to sell one item or service.
Everything is accomplished in steps.
“Small steps are not weak, they are precise.”
~ From Mini Habits
4. “Process and progress are everything.”
The final, potent procrastination-killing thought attacks result-based thinking. When we get too focused on obtaining a certain result, we lose sight of the process. This is lethal to our success!
For example, if you’re obsessed with getting a six pack, then you’ll think about how one workout today isn’t enough to accomplish that. If you’re obsessed with having a New York Times bestselling book, all of your marketing attempts will seem futile. Ultimately, this discourages positive action and causes procrastination.
Forget about the result you want from your actions. Switch your attention to the process—what steps will lead you to a better place than you are now? When you focus on the process, you’ll make the most progress, and progress in any amount is worth celebrating! Life is challenging, and to be the type of person who is constantly moving forward will set you apart.
Most people wrestle with procrastination every day and they can’t figure out how to beat it. Day after day, they let their perfectionism, massive goals, and results-based thinking prevent them from taking simple steps to improve their lives. Think these four thoughts when procrastinating, and you’ll watch your resistance melt before your eyes like a snowman in Florida.
- What’s one good thing I can do right now?
- It can be flawed.
- How can I make it easier?
- Process and progress are everything (don’t worry about the result).
If this intrigued you, you would love my latest book, How to Be an Imperfectionist. It exposes the many problems that perfectionism causes—including procrastination—and provides doable solutions to reverse this harmful way of thinking.
I’m Stephen Guise, the founder of Deep Existence, a blog about creative strategies for lasting change. Click here to get 3 exclusive gifts and insightful life tips from me every Tuesday morning.
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.
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