I recently read about a survey (by the University of Chicago) which suggested that those who relish challenge are more likely to live up to 10 years longer than those who spend their lives inhibited by timidity.
Trying to realise our ambitions, even if we don't always meet them, is preferable to not having the courage or motivation to take the risk. So not making any resolutions because we fear that we'll break them is having a defeatist attitude, as we allow procrastination to become an insidious habit which stops us from leading more fulfilling lives.
The following offers 10 ways to kick the procrastination habit!
1. Personal values development. Take the time to find out what you really want in life, what your personal values are. Do you want more time, more money, better health, greater self esteem and confidence, more fulfilling relationships, a different career, set up a business? When we procrastinate it's often because what we are planning to do is not really aligned with what we truly want. We may be scared of our skills (or perceived lack of) or fear ridicule from others.
2. Make health a priority. Without good health we are less likely to have the energy and dynamism needed to make positive changes in our lives and it's easier (and necessary if you're very ill) to procrastinate. So ensure that you have a nourishing diet, sleep well, exercise and meditate. Incidentally, it is thought that regular meditation helps delay the worst effects of the ageing process.
3. Visualise your life without procrastination. See and feel the benefits in your life if you didn't procrastinate. What could you do and achieve? Begin to act as if you're not a procrastinator. Write down, draw, imagine your life as a film. Use affirmations to help you.
4. Banish the Gremlin. That little voice which runs on auto in your head - that dismisses any idea that you might have. It says things like "I'm not in the mood" "I don't have time" "I can't do this". Stop running on auto, replace the "should's" "oughts" "have tos" with "want to" "desire". You have a choice. Acknowledge your choices and banish the Gremlin. Again, using affirmations can help you replace the Gremlin with more positive alternatives.
5. Overcommitment. Saying "yes" to everything - often leaves you feeling tired and without the energy to focus on what is most important to you. This leads to procrastination as projects and tasks are dropped. Identify what is most important to you and only focus on those areas which will make the biggest difference to your life. It will enhance your focus and motivation.
6. Setting personal professional goals. It's hard to motivate yourself when you don't have a good idea of what you want to accomplish. So when setting goals think about what you want to achieve in the short term and long term. Techniques for doing so include the SMART strategy. S = specific M = measurable A= Action R = Realistic T = Time based. Use goal setting software to help you in goal planning and setting.
7. Prioritize Your Goals. Develop a plan or schedule to help you reach your goals. In doing so you will begin to identify whether some elements need to be included or enhanced or dropped completely. Also remember to be flexible, revisit your goals regularly and modify or drop if appropriate. Just because a goal is written down doesn't mean that it is set in stone!
8. Divide and conquer. Once you've prioritised your goals, divide them into smaller chunks. Sometimes we procrastinate because a project seems really large that the scale of it overwhelms us and puts us into a temporary form of paralysis - you don't know where to start, so you don't start at all! Approach each project - especially large ones - on a step by step basis.
9. Reward yourself. Once you start to complete tasks, reward yourself by giving yourself something that you want. So instead of seeing a film before you complete a task, see it afterwards and make it a reward for you.
10. Just get started. No excuses. Don't wait until you're "in the mood". The mood never comes! It is a clever camouflage and a delaying tactic. What you resist persists! Start with what is easiest, so that you experience immediate success, which will give you the fuel and motivation to upgrade and take on larger projects.
Do any of the above and you'll be well on your way to Kicking the Procrastination Habit. And if you're procrastinating over doing any of the above :.), then remember that life is the biggest deadline of all!
Julie Plenty is a Personal and Business Coach who specialises in coaching self employed creative professionals to live more creative, fulfilled lives. To sign up for the Life Design newsletter visit: http://www.self-help-personal-development.com