This is part three of our Following Through series.
The first two parts covered three major obstacles that prevent us from doing what we say: overcommitment, forgetfulness and distraction. In the final part, we’ll introduce a few more obstacles and wrap things up with a miraculous technique for actually doing what you say.
Procrastination is when we put something off for an undetermined amount of time.
Putting things off feels safe. We think inaction will prevent change, which is scary. Truth is, everything changes anyway and usually for the worse. Inaction simply diminishes your power to affect the outcome.
That’s really bad! No happiness down that road. Exercising more control over your circumstances makes you happy. Procrastination is disempowering.
Things always get worse!
Everything is always falling apart and blowing up. Change is the only universal. To be alive is to constantly escape death, until you don’t. Of course it’s going to be scary and uncomfortable.
Frequently, we are seduced by the comforting voice of “self-care.” It hides a doubt, an insecurity. That negative feeling makes us apprehensive. We pull back and slow down a little bit. That opens up enough room for questions, vagueness. The voice says, “I’d better take a moment to do something comforting before I get started with this important task. After all, this task is important and that’s a little scary. I want to bring my best energy. This brief distraction is actually self-care!”
The doubt, the justification, and the distraction. This pattern derails unprepared minds. Recognize the doubt and the words you use to justify self-care. Ignore this voice.
“Oh, I just need a minute to mentally prepare before I begin the hard work.” Remember how you felt in the past when you avoided doing something worthwhile all day and indulged in a hollow distraction instead? It felt bad. It will always feels bad. It makes you feel worthless because you’re not doing anything that’s worth more.
Now, imagine the feelings you will get when you follow through and finish the thing. Connect to how you will feel when you’re done. Close your eyes and feel it. That’s the feeling you need to focus on.
The root cause of procrastination is not avoiding work, it is avoiding an uncomfortable feeling, often fear. We fear that we will let others down. We fear making the wrong choice with our time. We fear change. We fear climbing the mountain as much as we fear falling! Better cut that shit out, my dude. Time to get excited about climbing and indifferent about falling. Find a way to get excited or you’ll die on that mountainside.
Procrastination is bad. HOWEVER! There is one circumstance in which procrastination CAN BE GOOD!
That’s right, it’s Positive Procrastination. Putting something off because now is not the appropriate time. Something else needs to happen before our action. The cake needs time to bake or you’re waiting on an ingredient. In these cases, waiting is an action. We procrastinate and set a time in the future to resume the task.
Some people call Positive Procrastination “scheduling.” How boring. If you need help sorting your calendar out, contact me for a coaching session. 😉
The Miraculous Technique
CLARITY is the key to following through. It’s that simple. Visualize the next step clearly in your mind and you skyrocket the likelihood of following through to completion. Otherwise, it’s too easy to get drawn into every distraction. Doubt slows your momentum and opens up just enough space for a distraction to start. Then, it’s difficult to switch. Short-term gratifications are intoxicating, but will make you sick. Our phones make us sick.
Answer these questions of the thing you need to follow through on:
• Do I actually want to do the thing?
• Why am I spending time on distractions that aren’t the thing?
• Is the next step clear in my mind?
Write it down. Do you have it written down? What if I asked you to show me?
How do we get back on track?
You’re going to fail. Learn to be resilient. Stay positive, improve your strategy, and fail less often. It takes practice. Focusing on the feelings –good and bad– helps motivate change.
No matter how you try to tackle this issue, slow down and listen to yourself. Remember that you will only do things that you actually want to do AND that are clear in your mind. Even then, if you can’t say no to distractions, you might never get started. Find a reason. Find the feeling associated with following through. That will motivate you.
The best way to follow through is to follow through. Get whatever tools you need. You are taking responsibility for finding answers that work for you and I’m on board. Remember to be patient and love yourself. You will fail and you’re still perfect. 🙂