Ending procrastination and putting action into your life
Positive thinking works when you combine it with action – when you are prepared to go that little bit further to achieve what you most desire in life. If you are lazy or a procrastinator, if you lack motivation and drive, then it will always be more difficult to attract the material things in life.
It does not have to be like that. You might be a laid back person, but that does not necessarily mean that you are lazy – there is a difference and I will talk more about that later. The major problem is procrastination – putting off things that really deserve immediate action.
Sadly, the biggest procrastinators rarely realise what they are actually doing and the damage they cause – and this is why they find it so hard to succeed in everything they do. At work they are “Business Prevention Officers,” in relationships they are “Mr or Ms no commitment” and in life they are “Maybes.”
There is something very descriptive about the word procrastination – I believe it says exactly what it does on the tin. Some even have difficulty pronouncing the word. Do it right now - PRO-CRASS-TIN-ASHUN - and you will see what I mean. It could well sum up why so many people will do, or try anything to put off or delay the job in hand – the things that really matter.
Procrastination can apply to any part of your life, your work, your marriage and all your other important relationships. It stems mostly from a fear of failure which in turn creates inaction – after all, if you do nothing then there is an assumption, consciously or unconsciously, that it is impossible to do wrong.
It is another link in the chain which you probably learned from a well-meaning adult or from your parents and it needs to be broken before you pass on the same level of inaction to your children. It is the lack of faith in your own abilities which gets worse when you are under pressure to deliver.
Clever procrastinators have even been known to invent a huge range of additional activities which are designed to hide their inactions, but sooner or later the inevitable will happen – the main task they have been dreading has to be completed – and they have probably run out of time.
That means you are then going to upset people who were relying on you. You have let them down and it was probably not the first time and they are now thinking that you are no longer up to the job, no longer the partner or friend they trusted – it is like a self-fulfilling prophecy which has come to pass.
Those who procrastinate frequently fail in their careers and personal relationships and the sad thing is they have no idea of the kind of people they have become. Procrastinators are not lazy or uncaring, quite the reverse, they just lack focus and commitment when they perceive or imagine that something is a little more challenging than normal.
Every warning bell in their body then unconsciously decides that this is one job too far and urgent evasive action is now required. It will occur again and again until you accept that just maybe you might be a procrastinator and look to do something about it.
But for the moment, let’s first focus on positive thinking and set about changing the basics. It starts with that fear of failure that has always held you back and prevented you from making solid work and relationship commitments. It’s also worth mentioning that some procrastinators also fear success – worried that if they do too good a job they will be asked to do more – different problem but same solution.
Check back in your life and start to ask yourself a few difficult questions – as explained earlier, few procrastinators recognise that they even have a problem to begin with so you have to be honest with yourself particularly if you are finding it difficult to hold down a job or sustain a relationship.
Were you discouraged by parents or other authority figures not to get out of your depth? Was there an occasion when it really did go wrong and you are now afraid of a repeat? Do you find it difficult to make decisions? Successful entrepreneurs recognise such challenges or failures as experience building and you must do the same. Where do you think it all went wrong, why do you find this aspect of life so difficult and most importantly, what can you do now to correct the situation?
It frequently helps if you are prepared to tackle the problem in an analytical way – not easy for a serial procrastinator, but as there is no pressure and everything to gain then please believe me when I say it is worth a few minutes of your time.
It starts by recognising that you might just be a procrastinator. C’mon, it is not so hard - this is your opportunity to be a powerful positive person and get rid of all that indecision and start your life afresh – ready to tackle anything that comes your way. When you become that person you will then begin to experience material success, your relationships will improve and a whole new way of life is yours for the taking
Find a piece of paper and a pen and write down that you are a procrastinator. You need to admit that you could be a ditherer and indecisive – you get the idea because we are going to set about correcting all those things. As you spell out the problem you must also add the solution. Write down that you now intend to be more decisive and that if you are having problems you will not be afraid to ask for help. Assert that you will not invent other tasks as a substitute for failing to complete projects.
When you are satisfied that your specification is just right then destroy that piece of paper as it will help to reinforce the ideas you have sown in your head. You have metaphorically sent a message to the Universe that you are ready for change and it only needs to receive it the once.
You are effectively writing your own personal message and you must state that that the new you is going to be a massive success - decisive, strong, a leader and someone who others will gravitate to for advice. You will be the one who tackles the bigger problems and hardest projects first. You will recognise that if you run into difficulties you will be quick to correct them before it is too late – and you will not be worried about asking for help, safe in the knowledge that it is not a reflection of failure on your part.
Use your imagination to see that you are a huge success, delivering incredible projects. See yourself as receiving praise from bosses and colleagues for a job well done. Visualise relationships improving with more and more attractive people coming into your life. Most importantly – please do not confuse procrastination for laziness.
This is of course how many people will always view procrastination – but that could not be further from the truth. None of us are the same – there are always going to be people more motivated, more dynamic and more driven than you. It does not mean that you are less committed or care less – and it certainly doesn’t mean that you are lazy.
You might be more laid back than most and you might like to take time to consider what needs to be done – that doesn’t mean that you are lazy either – so welcome the type of person you are and let’s move on, but be ready to give yourself a break because there could be other things that are holding you back right now.
Could be that you are feeling very tired at the moment. Maybe it’s been a bad week, month, year or even longer when everything has gone wrong. It’s your problems we are talking about here – anything from divorce, ill health, finances, depression – so an understandable lack of motivation is probably OK right now and we will talk more about that later because these things will pass.
The real problem is procrastination because some people will avoid action of any kind by looking for distractions. This also has nothing to do with laziness as we have already discussed – so could it be that you are simply unwilling or unable to do a particular job or you have no idea what action to take. May be you could be worrying about the potentially embarrassing consequences of a failure on your part.
Depression is also the direct route to inaction. When all you can think of is how bad you feel and how bleak the future looks then it’s not surprising that you feel demotivated. In such circumstances, the last question you need to ask is why am I so lazy?
Feelings of hopelessness and low self-esteem are massive factors for inaction. Add them to all the other reasons already stated – and if these apply to you – then you are not a lazy person, just someone who needs to think differently.
That could mean turning to mindfulness or meditation which is known to correct thoughts and can be very powerful in cases of negativity, but most people have no idea how to go about this and they do not have the time or the inclination to make it work.
There is really nothing new about Mindfulness. It has been around for thousands of years, practiced and passed down through the generations by Buddhist monks and it works by keeping people in the NOW – focussing on things at this precise moment.
The practice has been clinically proven to fight depression and anxiety – and according to some medical reports, up to 20% of individuals taking part in trials have benefitted - and there are a growing number of organisations willing to offer courses and advice.
Does it work – yes? Is it good for your mind and body – without doubt? So what are the downsides of Mindfulness? The short answer is time. You must be willing to invest part of your day – you will need, according to the experts, at least 15 minutes to meditate, some say up to one hour. This allows your thoughts to be put into perspective in a non-judgemental way - and in a modern fast moving world, most of us are sadly unwilling to make that investment.
It’s the very same reason why most people fail to get the results they need from self-help books, particularly those that involve daily exercises and affirmations and why most New Year resolutions fail by mid-January. You will be pleased to know that we do not recommend such things – because you do not need them.
That doesn’t mean to say that you cannot introduce Mindfulness into your life and daily routine and you can do it on the go, as you travel to work, during you lunch hour, as you tidy up the house, clean the car or whatever it is you are doing at that particular moment.
The secret is learning to control your thoughts and living in the now, enjoying this precise moment accepting that everything is how it should be. Let the dozens of thoughts coming into your head pass into the ether without comment or analysis – they are random and however pressing they may seem you can choose to return to them when you are ready ensuring that you dominate the agenda.
A good start is to forget about the past mistakes – there is nothing you can change as much as you might want to beat yourself up over it. Simply vow to learn from the experience however painful it was because it is now in your past and only causes you distress when you relive it. That simple process of acceptance alone will take you forward into the process of mindfulness.
As for the future – if you are practicing Powerful Positive Thinking then you will already have a strategy to take care of what comes next or you will have by the time you finish this article – so all you have to do is concentrate on what’s happening now.
Enjoy the moment and if you are sitting on a train or a passenger on a bus or simply lounging in a café, take the opportunity to look around, smell the coffee if you like, metaphorically and literally, look at the surroundings, take notice of colours and textures and as you do, thoughts will stream into your head and you will have an opinion about what your senses are telling you.
To achieve mindfulness you must control these opinions. It doesn’t matter whether you hate the colour of someone’s curtains or whatever else you are looking at. It doesn’t matter what you think about anything really at that particular moment – stop being judgemental, acknowledge the thoughts without any additional mental comment and let them drift away.
This is the lazy way to mindfulness because without realising it you will be in a mild state of meditation, it’s doing you good and you can do it any time it takes your fancy. Analyse it a bit further and you have probably allowed yourself unwittingly to relax in the same way on numerous occasions. It is just common sense – another key part of Powerful Positive Thinking.
You can do this during even the busiest of days and here comes the good bit. Because you have not locked yourself into a rigid programme of meditating at a certain time then mindfulness becomes a pleasure when you are ready to switch off and not another chore or duty you have to include as part of your 24 hour schedule.
This way you will slowly learn how to control your thoughts, you will become less judgemental, gradually you will learn to let go of the past and slowly – step by step – you will be living in the NOW – and that’s exactly where we all should be.
By living in the now you can correct your thoughts away from procrastination or laziness and focus on what needs to be done immediately. You will see the way ahead and the task in hand, you will not be afraid to ask for help if it is required.
Do not feel you have to practice all the time, just take a moment to relax, the odd few minutes here and there and slowly but surely you will become more positive, more incisive and you would have made another step forward towards personal and material success – so chill. You have vowed to be less of a procrastinator and most importantly, you have taken another step towards a more positive you.