How To Stop Procrastinating
For the last two weeks I have blogged about New Year’s Goals, and this week I’m wondering how many of have you taken on those goals with a vengeance, and how many are still procrastinating? Sometimes when one of our goals seems daunting, and we can’t find a way to break it into smaller, more manageable pieces, we are paralyzed by our own internal struggles. At the core of those struggles is the power of our thoughts, namely that nagging voice inside us that creates self-doubt. It asks questions like:
Is our goal is too challenging? What if we don’t deserve it? Do we have time for it?
It could be any multitude of self-sabotaging thoughts, but it’s those thoughts that stand in the way of accomplishing that which propels us forward and helps us realize our dreams. None of us wants to wake up one day and feel that we have let time slip away, or that we aren’t where we aspired to be. Life is too short to have regrets. So today, once and for all, it’s time to start realizing our potential and attacking our goals. In order to do that, we have to first recognize why we procrastinate. Though the reasons are vast and varied, fear seems to be most compelling. When it comes to self-defeating behaviors that stand in the way of our goals, fear trumps.
Do we fear failure or success?
If procrastination is a means of self-sabotage, and it is, then fear is it’s greatest ally. Fear is that ugly beast that lurks unknowingly in our subconscious and undermines our ability to succeed. Fear comes in two forms: Fear of success, and the flip side of the same coin, which is fear of failure.
Fear of Failure: Those who fear failure often don’t try at all, with the mindset that if that if failure is an option, and it is anytime we put ourselves out there, they’d rather chalk it off to lack of effort than lack of talent or intelligence. It’s when its our mind says, “I’d rather fail because I didn’t try, than put all of my effort into something and take the chance that I might fail regardless.”
Fear of Success: Often stems from the fact that subconsciously we don’t feel good enough, or we feel guilty, believing that we don’t deserve the opportunities that could stem from our success. Fear of success also comes from the fact that we might be concerned about the additional responsibility and visibility that accompanies success, thus added pressure and higher expectations from others. We may worry that our relationships could suffer, or that our success will expose us to too much scrutiny.
If fear is our nemesis, how do we conquer it?
First, we have to realize that fears are that which we create in our mind, so our mind is where we need to start. Here are two powerful ways to manage our mind and put our fears aside:
1. Analyze your fears. Write them down on a piece of paper, evaluate them, and decide whether or not they are rational. Take a realistic look at what will happen if you succeed. What are all the potential outcomes? Remember that the more you own your fears the less power they have over you. When you take a good hard look, you may find that you can make your fears disappear just by accepting that they exist and recognizing that they’re bigger in your mind than they are on paper.
2. Take the first step. Set aside a small, manageable amount of time, 15 minutes or 30 minutes at the most. Set a timer, and then start tackling your goal. Your mission here is to break down the magnitude of that seemingly overwhelming goal, and to complete one task or one objective that gets you closer to your long-term goal. When the timer goes off, allow yourself permission to move on to something else. Chances are you’ll be so immersed in your project you won’t want to, but either way you took the first step and that’s always the hardest.
One step leads to the next, and just like weight loss, slow, consistent patterns of behavior lead to long-term results. When we face our fears and take that first step, we can realize our goals and maximize our potential.
Remember, goals are the driving force behind our success and our ability to lead purpose driven lives.
Best to you in 2016!
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