At the end of last year I wrote a couple of blog posts about planning the year ahead. With good planning you be able to reach the goals you set yourself.
However there are some things that can work against you and I seem to have stumbled into one of them: procrastination.
I recently submitted my product to Clickbank and they have requested a number of changes. These include rerecording some videos and making the appropriate changes to transcripts and audio files.
However my subconscious seems to have taken offence at these requests. It dug in its heels and refused to do the work. Like a petulant teenager it’s reluctant to repeat a task it’s already done, especially since an authority figure has requested it.
Or since I’m approaching the latter stages of preparing my product for release perhaps this is an example of being scared of success, of putting myself out there.
Yes, it is embarrassing to admit this and I can easily imagine the ‘pull yourself together’ and ‘kick up the ar**’ comments that will arise in my readers’ minds. However this is one of the dangers of working alone.
With no work colleagues around you or authority figures above you there is certainly less stress than I’ve experienced in the workplace, but also less pressure. That’s why I’ve said an accountability partner is often one of the best things you can organise for your business.
In trying to solve the problem of this inertia I’ve tried to understand what was going on in my head. It’s as if I’d mapped out a journey, packed the car, set off and then despite nearing my destination I had pulled over to the side of the road and couldn’t be bothered to continue.
It’s almost as if a challenge along the route had become a hazard. As if a difficult or busy junction ahead had become intimidating and I’d rather not attempt it. If only there was an easier route.
It seems to me quite natural to want to avoid things that seem intimidating, outside our comfort zone or that potentially threaten the status quo, especially if they threaten our reputation or self-esteem.
To avoid the junction we put things in our own way. It’s as if we can no longer put the car in gear or control the throttle well enough to avoid stalling the car. It’s as if we decide the journey was not that important after all so it’s okay to abandon it, or that in a fit of perfectionism we need to clean the car before it moves further.
In real life it’s checking emails or Facebook, extra research that ‘has to be done’, making phone calls, running errands or one hundred and one other possible instances of busy work that we use to distract ourselves from the fact that we’re just sitting at the roadside making excuses not to move.
At this point I believe we have three options. Two are to make the difficult part of the journey easier, either by outsourcing or by having better processes.
In this instance organising outsourcing will taker longer than doing the tasks myself, and I’ve made over twenty videos using my processes, so I don’t think the difficulty lies there. That leaves me with the third option: aiming at a more appealing destination.
When we procrastinate it’s not usually because we dread reaching the destination; we dread a difficult part of the journey. Yet perhaps the destination could help us overcome the inertia if it was more enticing.
I worked out some years ago that the nature of my goals is important. For example, I can’t just be motivated by a sum of money. I can’t get excited by imagining large figures in a bank account or a pile of banknotes in a vault. I need to focus on the benefits that come from the money.
This episode of procrastination has convinced me of two things. The first is that I need better defined deadlines.
It seems to me that procrastination is often associated with lack of urgency. If you believe there’s no urgency to attempt the challenging route there’s no need to subject yourself to it. So we hesitate and delay just to see if it is necessary. Perhaps we should consider if there’s a simpler route, or wait until there’s less traffic. Only when we believe the difficult route can no longer be avoided do we finally take action.
A definite deadline that makes sense would help with this.
I also need to further clarify my goals and define more specifically what their achievement would mean to me.
I have to make them appeal on an emotional level. Something that races the heart and pumps the adrenaline. I need goals so strong that I focus on getting through the difficult junctions so I can get closer to my goals, not the negatives associated with entering the junctions.
Well, those are my thoughts on the subject. Have you any tactics or approaches that have helped you overcome this common, ambition-threatening condition? Please share what has worked for you below.