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Do you really want to fight procrastination?
I’ll show you how.
But first, a chilling real-life story that shows just how procrastination works on many of us.
In November 2006, Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian spy, suddenly fell ill and died three weeks later from the deadly effects of a slow-acting poison.
In the weeks before his death, doctors in London did everything they could to diagnose the real cause of his illness but failed. It was only after Alexander’s death did autopsy tests reveal he had been poisoned with a very rare and extremely deadly substance.
Polonium is a radioactive poison and a deadly slow killer with no cure. While most poisons kill instantly or after a few minutes, Polonium takes its time and could take several months before it finally kills its victim. In all the time it remains in the body, it destroys the body slowly, often without giving any major signs.
This is exactly how procrastination slowly kills the dreams, aspirations and potential of millions of people around the world.
This article reveals five simple but effective steps that anyone can use to recover from procrastination — if and when it poisons your dreams!
I hope I didn’t scare the hell out of you with the Polonium story. Though dramatic, I found it to have a very compelling similarity to the deadly effects of procrastination in our lives.
Almost nine out of every ten aspiring entrepreneurs you know are already infected with the ‘procrastination syndrome.’
But why do so many people easily become victims of procrastination?
Why, despite knowing its deadly effects, do we allow it to poison our dreams and rob us of the ability to take any action?
I think I have a couple of clues.
Before we look at the 5 ways to fight procrastination, let’s look at a couple of reasons why procrastination is so common in the first place…
But why is procrastination so common in our lives?
In this section, I’ll share with you two key reasons why procrastination is such an effective dream killer. Many of you reading this will easily relate to the signs and situations you’re about to read. Here they are…
Procrastination is a sweet and comfortable feeling
One of the biggest advantages of procrastination is the comfort it provides.
If you have a brilliant business idea but continue to postpone any actions that will make it a real life business, what will happen? Nothing.
In January, you said you’ll act in March; by March, you set a new date in October. Days, weeks, months and even years pass and you keep procrastinating. It’s such a comfortable feeling knowing you can procrastinate without suffering any consequences, right?
It’s this comfort that makes procrastination such a powerful poison.
It makes you believe you have all the time in the world to act. It makes you think there will be no consequences for not acting on your dreams today.
Hour by hour, day by day, it slowly steals your time without your knowing. By the time you realize that you’re being robbed, it could be too late. Lost capital can be recovered, mistakes can be redeemed, but stolen time is often lost forever!
Procrastination usually exists in disguise
Very few people in this world will admit that they suffer from full-blown procrastination. Maybe just a few people will admit it.
Why? Because most people don’t even know that they’ve been poisoned by procrastination already. They think they’re suffering from a different disease and are unaware of the real poison at work.
If you ask many aspiring entrepreneurs why they haven’t acted on their dreams and ideas, the popular responses you’re likely to get will be:
- ‘I don’t have the capital to start.’
- ‘I just had a baby.’
- ‘I don’t have the contacts’
- ‘Now is not a good time to start’
- ‘I don’t have enough information yet’
- Bla bla bla…
What do you think all these people are doing?
Yes, you’re right; they’re making excuses.
If you listen well enough, you’ll hear people come up with the most logical, intelligent, beautiful and emotional excuses. And excuses make the best disguise for procrastination.
An excuse convinces the maker that they have a very valid reason for not acting.
What a perfect lie!
The 5 Simple Steps to Fighting Procrastination
Fortunately, unlike Polonium poisoning which has no cure, procrastination can be avoided and cured.
That’s very good news indeed.
For a deadly dream killer, you would think the solution to procrastination would be complex, expensive or hard to find.
I thought so too. It’s amazing how the best solutions in life are often available for free.
The remedy for procrastination is in you. Yes, you don’t need to hire an expensive coach, therapist or ‘anti-procrastination’ doctor.
If you’re ready to make yourself resistant to this disease and find a cure (if you’re already infected), here are five simple but highly effective steps I recommend to fighting the slow-acting but deadly effects of procrastination.
1. It Always Starts With A Choice…
The first step in fighting procrastination involves getting your fundamentals right. You have to make a choice about that thing you want to do or become.
Even though you may not yet have all the information, knowledge, skills, capital or time to make your dreams or ideas happen, you still have to make a decision beforehand.
Do you really want to become an entrepreneur? Do you really want to start your own business? Do you really want to do something different with your life?
The answer to these questions should either be a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. ‘Maybe’ and ‘Not Sure’ are warning signs of procrastination, so beware!
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The biggest problem for most aspiring entrepreneurs is we haven’t made that very important choice or decision yet.
Like I said, you don’t need to have everything in place to make this choice. It’s more about belief and faith at this stage. You may not yet know how you will build that dream business but you have to commit to it by making a choice, a conscious decision.
Whatever choice you make, you must promise yourself that you will give all the hardwork and determination your dream needs to succeed.
If you don’t make this promise beforehand, it would be very easy to change your mind as soon as you meet a challenge or problem down the road.
2. Your Attitude Is Important. Take Charge Of It!
You see, many people haven’t taken personal responsibility for their lives. They may have made a choice, but they end up blaming other people for their unrealized dreams.
They blame the banks for not lending capital to small businesses. They blame the government for the difficulties entrepreneurs face in starting a business. They blame the politicians, their bosses, the weather or their poor background.
Some ‘interesting’ people blame their parents, evil forces and even God.
It’s true there are things that affect the realization of your dreams that you cannot change. Yes, you can’t force banks to lend money and you can’t change poor government policies overnight.
Yes, you can’t change many of these things but you can change your attitude. You can change how you react to these negative realities.
A positive attitude is ABSOLUTELY important if you want to defeat the powerful negative effects of procrastination.
No matter how the wind blows, you need to take charge of your life, your dreams and the choices you make.
The biggest disadvantage of not taking personal responsibility for our lives is that we end up blaming other people. A person who has taken charge by adopting a positive attitude to life will focus more on finding a solution to his/her challenges.
A positive attitude opens your mind to possibilities and solutions instead of focusing on blames and excuses.
What kind of attitude do you have to life and your dreams? Are you a solution finder or a blame thrower? Do you look for possibilities in every difficult situation or do you easily come up with excuses?
Which of these teams do you play for?
3. You Need To Have A Plan, No Matter How Basic
Most things in life never work according to plan but it ALWAYS helps to have a plan to start with.
Think through the steps and processes that will lead you to achieve your dream. Your plan doesn’t need to be perfect. Your plan would change as you get more information and as your dream becomes clearer.
As more information becomes available, you will have the tools you need to update your plan.
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Most importantly: Write down your plan.
There’s something very powerful and different about writing down your plan. A written plan ceases to be that vague fluff in your head and becomes something real.
It’s also a good practice to look at your plan from time to time. This simple practice will help you to update it as soon as possible and also keep you focused on the destination.
Like I said, very few things in life ever go according to plan. In real life, the road to actualizing your dreams is seldom a straight one. Unexpected roadblocks will show up, new opportunities will emerge and several things may go wrong and off course.
With a plan, you’re always ready to adapt to any situations you meet, whether good or bad.
People without a plan are far more likely to procrastinate when they meet obstacles along the way. A plan is a commitment on paper; it will help you adapt when you are in rough waters.
A wise man once said: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will lead you there.”
Start working on your basic plan today!
4. Create A Sense Of Urgency. Put A Gun To Your Head!
Sometime in 2004, I was traveling back home from university when our bus fell into the hands of highway robbers.
Thankfully, nobody got hurt during that ordeal but that day taught me a huge lesson about what human beings can do when a gun is against their heads.
Although I was just recovering from malaria and still quite weak, I was amazed at the physical strength I displayed throughout the robbery operation which lasted about two hours.
“Lie down !”
“Give me your money, fast!”
I obeyed all these orders despite the weakness I felt due to my episode with malaria.
I obeyed every command because there was a gun (probably loaded) staring down at me. All their orders required an immediate and urgent reaction without which there may have been grave consequences.
Like you read in the early parts of this article, one of the reasons why procrastination is so powerful is that it lures us to believe that ‘there is no rush; there’ll always be time.’
By believing this lie, procrastination cleverly steals our time, and ultimately our whole life.
Every successful person knows that the best time to get anything done is NOW!
Put a gun to your head by setting strict and firm deadlines for yourself. Avoid the temptation of doing tomorrow that thing you should do today.
Create a sense of urgency for yourself and execute your plan according to your deadlines!
Put a gun to your head. Not literally, of course.
5. Take Action!
After making a choice, adopting the right attitude, creating a basic plan and setting strict deadlines for yourself, nothing will happen or change until you take action.
Even if you take only one step a day, it’s better than standing in one place and making no progress at all.
Every single day, you must do something (no matter how little) that takes you closer to your dreams.
According to The Slight Edge, a life changing book by Jeff Olson,
the little steps and efforts we take everyday may not look like they matter, but they do.
By taking consistent and positive actions in the direction of our dreams, we will ultimately achieve it. Action is the single most potent medicine in the world against procrastination.
Action, no matter how small, effectively kills procrastination. Always!
Now you know how to fight procrastination. It’s time for action!
Years from today, you will be old, retired and not as strong as you are now.
Whether you choose to pursue your ideas and achieve them, or simply relax and enjoy the sweet poison of procrastination, time will still pass.
No matter what you’re doing (or plan to do), time will always keep moving; it’s a train that never stops.
And what you do with your time is entirely up to you. Your goal in life should be to achieve your dreams while you still have time.
On the other hand, procrastination’s goal is to steal as much time from you in any way possible.
It’s up to you to decide how much of your time you want procrastination to steal.
How much of your life and precious time did procrastination steal this year?
What are you going to do about this thief as from today?
Only time will tell.
So, what’s the single biggest thing you have been procrastinating? I would love to hear from you in the comments section below.