Procrastinating. Something we all do. Even the most motivated and energized people in the world will still wait to complete certain tasks even though they could be doing them much sooner. Why do we do this? Why do we consistently push off tasks for later today, or tomorrow, or next week when they could be completed right now? What is it about human beings and their tendency to procrastinate?
There are many reasons why a person will procrastinate. They might be scared to fail so instead of risking that possibility, they do nothing. Or they might know the hardships that they will endure while completing the task, and they do not feel ready or capable of facing them yet. Or they simply might just not have enough energy to get started. Whatever the reason may be, they all revolve around a central idea. When people are comfortable or used to the state that they are living in, they will not feel a need to change due to the risk that they could be in a less comfortable state in the future.
Procrastination is the worst. It tells people that it is okay to waste your time doing nonsensical activities when you could be investing your valuable time into places that will help you achieve your goals. Procrastination drains people of their time, energy, hopes, and spirits. At best, it will delay you from starting your journey towards success and at worst it will prohibit you from beginning that journey all together. So what can be done?
Screw Procrastination and Take Action Now
The best time to do anything is when you first have the desire to do it. When you are devising a plan in your head, your stream of ideas is flowing. It is at that initial point when you form an idea that you have the highest motivation to do it. The idea is new, fresh, and exciting, but unfortunately for most people, they will not do anything to put that idea into action.
If you let an idea sit, it becomes duller, and more boring, until eventually you no longer have any motivation to do take action on it. And even if you do end up doing something with it you have a) wasted time letting it sit and b) most likely do not have the same energy and drive as you did when you were first devising your plan.
I am speaking very generally here, but just think about a time in your life when you had a thought or idea that you really wanted to put into action. It could have been something large like wanting to change your lifestyle to lose weight and get healthier, or even something as small as wanting to paint a room in your house. Try to remember how you originally felt about taking action on that idea at the time you devised it; the rush of energy and excitement to promote change, and then remember how that feeling changed as time passed. If you let the idea sit, did you end up completing the task in the end? If you did, were you able to complete it with the same energy you began with?
Chances are, you answered “no” to at least one of those questions. Hopefully you were able to think of one or more of these times in your life, maybe even from this past day or week, because it is a situation everyone is put in from time to time. However, we need to start being able to answer those last questions with a big “YES”
Screw procrastination. The time to do something is now. When you first have an idea your creative juices are flowing and your motivation skyrockets. Don’t cut off the stream of ideas, follow it. Don’t keep putting your great ideas off, because you may never get to them at all.
Impulsivity? No. Inspiration.
People also have another terrible tendency to fear impulsivity. When it is time to take action, they hear echos of Mark Twain in the back of their head, blaring the message of Tom Sawyer, urging them to slow themselves in their decision-making process. This is just another excuse for procrastination.
There are times to take it slows in your life. You don’t want to have the idea to buy a house and by the end of the day have a mortgage that you will be paying off for the next 30 years. But there are other times when you need to just get up and get moving.
If you want to paint a room in your house, there is nothing from stopping you from going to the store and buying some paint and a paint brush that very day. There is nothing stopping you dipping into that paint, and getting the project done. And at the end of the day, if you really hate the way your paint job turned out, it is not that hard to get some more paint and try again, but you are most likely going to enjoy your work and relish in the fact that you got something accomplished.
Acting swiftly to capitalize on motivation is not the same as impulsivity. Impulsively is acting in the absence of thought, but acting out of inspiration is due to the abundance of thought. When inspiration strikes, that is the time to take action.
Have Faith in Yourself
You may find yourself questioning every move you make all the time. If I paint the bathroom, will I regret how it looks? If I go to the gym, will people judge me for my looks? If I start on this diet program, will I be putting in effort for no gain? There are a million questions that we ask ourselves before making any action.
Questions take too much time. Too much of our lives is spent contemplating what might happen if we do certain things, but more often than not we never find out.
There are some questions we need to ask ourselves, but the most important of those questions is “do I want to do this?” If the answer to this question is yes, then most of the other answers to the other questions are irrelevant.
If you want to paint a room in your house, do not waste time debating on how it will turn out. Develop a plan where you will be satisfied with the outcome, and trust your ability to execute the plan. In this instance, you might be stuck on what color to paint the room. You want to spend some time picking out the color and considering how it will look, but once you find a color you like, don’t waste more time second guessing yourself.
Once you have a plan that is oriented towards making you happy, do not spend more time reconsidering it. Trust yourself and your plans, and just start moving forward.
The Key to Getting Started
It is often easier said than done. When I tell you to “just get started”, or “take action now”, you might not be entirely compelled because that is a very ambiguous statement. Even if you wanted take action, where do you start? You want to start small.
Small term goals are the key to getting started and building momentum in anything that you are doing. No one ever had a large, long term goal in their head, and completed that goal from going from point a to point b.
Starting out with a small, manageable goal will increase your chances of starting another short term goal, which will help you set another, and then another, and then another until your long term goal has been completed.
When I had the idea to write this post, I did not think “let me sit down and write the whole thing in one sitting”. I am just like everyone else, and it is not my nature to willingly sit down and write a 1700+ word post all at once. Instead, I set a shorter term goal for myself that will ensure that I take the first step, no matter how small. For this post, I really did not feel like writing at the start, so I made the goal to write the first 100 words of this post. If, after I wrote 100 words I did not feel like continuing, I would not force myself to because I no longer had the desire.
However, by writing just 100 words (which is less than the last paragraph), I was able to build momentum to fuel my initial fire which allowed me to keep writing. 100 words is almost nothing, so I do not dread starting this task, and by completing it, I feel more energized to write more.
This is the kind of system that you need to implement in your life to stimulate progress. No one wants paint a whole room, or write an entire blog or post, or go straight from not working out to going to the gym every day. You need these small goals to give yourself a manageable task that you can easily complete, and motivate yourself to continue towards your long term goals.
Just Start Somewhere
As the noble Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “If you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t walk run, then walk, if you can’t walk, then crawl, but by all means keep moving.”
Whatever you do, just start moving forward. Trust in your plan that you have devised, create that short term goal that is going to stimulate your growth, and just start moving forward, but don’t waste time doing it.
If you have the option to workout now or in an hour, do it now. If you have the option to start your diet today or next Monday, start today.
This website mainly has posts that relate to health, wellness, and fitness, but these tips I present are applicable to any portion of your life.
Never waste time putting something off until tomorrow if it can be completed today.
I hope this post gave you a sense of exigence to begin whatever project you have developing in your mind right now. Far too often people have hopes and desires, but they are not acted upon so they are abandoned. Don’t give up on your ideas.
As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, leave a comment below or shoot me an email. It always delights me to hear feedback or see that people are engaged with my work.
Always remember, take action now.
I wish you the best,