Procrastination is a very elaborate way to prevent ourselves from taking risks. We get trapped in our fearful thinking. We obsess about everything that could go wrong and everything that already is wrong. We imagine how humiliated we might end up feeling. We decide we aren’t prepared enough, strong enough, or smart enough to even think of trying something that’s new or important. Even if that new or important action might change our lives for the better.
Because Procrastination can be so dangerous to our well-being in this way, I decided to suggest ways to encourage you to take more risks. Here are some of the ideas I have:
1. Stress less. Focus more. Since our negative, catastrophic thinking tends to keep us from moving forward, let’s not focus on those thoughts. Let’s instead turn them right around. Let’s think about what could go right. Let’s think about how much freer we will feel. Let’s think about crossing lots of things off that life’s to do list. Let’s imagine the sky is the limit, because it really is. Once we have unburdened ourselves of that heavy, negative, pessimistic thinking, we actually will gain the advantage of having greater focus when we do take action, and that will help us to keep moving in a forward direction.
2. Choose your actions based on how much impact they can have. Instead of proceeding inch by inch, envision how you might arrange your behaviors so they have larger impact. As a simple example, instead of decluttering one magazine issue at a time, decide to toss all the back issues and consider cancelling the subscription to the magazine so you don’t have to deal with unread clutter of this kind ever again. Small actions take energy just as big actions do, so I figure it’s better to go big if you are going to go at all.
3. Revolutionize things. If your past behaviors have not brought you to a happy place, change the way you do things. Consider changing the entire process. If you think about it, there are really almost no rules you really have to abide by. As I was taught when I was in training to become a psychologist, you need to show up on time, pay on time, and not do anything violent. I figure those are pretty good life rules. Everything else is up to you to design. Again, if it’s not working, fix it. You can do this.
4. Accept that you are in charge. Procrastination grows when we act in passive ways. Procrastination is like mold. If you don’t take care of it, it just takes over. The next time you have to make a decision, be mindful of whether you are acting with an active mindset or a passive one and then act accordingly. Don’t live with the mold.
5. Complete every loop that you are in, no matter how painful, awkward, or difficult. For so many of us, just finishing something is the equivalent of taking a risk. So figure out what is waiting for you, and take care of that business. Face your fears, face your frustrations too. And by the way, don’t think that completing loops always means extra work. See if there are open loops in your life that you can close by letting go of them, by deciding that these loops are not worth your time and attention any more.
6. Don’t fuss and perfect things anymore. This category too is the equivalent of taking a risk for many of us. We get stymied when we feel we can’t release our grip on work that might be less than perfect. We end up feeling like we are suffocating from the pressure of needing to have everything be just so. What’s the answer to this type of stress? Catch and release. Catch and release. Catch and release.
7. Loosen up and let other people in. When we stress too much about how we are or are not doing things, we forget how important the people in our lives are to us. Since we feel too strung out to have fun, we decide we can’t have fun. Since we feel behind in every area, we decide we don’t deserve to have happy, well-working relationships. That is just hogwash, so connect with someone you need to connect with today. Life’s greatest rewards come when we allow ourselves to take good risks in our relationships.
Let me know what risks you’re up for taking. Once you get in the habit of moving forward consistently, the things that used to feel like risks will begin to feel like interesting opportunities instead. I’m with you all the way.