Last week I wrote about procrastination and how it is interlinked to your ability to withstand discomfort or the potential of failure. I let you in on my own personal battle with my inability to sit through discomfort, which has led to a pile of unfinished side-projects… Just because that last 20% of the project always proved to be the hardest part for me. The result? Another abandoned side-project, with plans to start a new one. Again.
I always thought that my “moving on” to something new, was because I just had so many ideas… Ideas that were distracting me. In reality, each of my new ideas became an excuse for me not to finish the final ‘hard part’ of projects I was working on. Thinking that my new idea was better and needed my full concentration.
Procrastination… it isn’t just surfing on the web all day, or watching Netflix – it’s doing EVERYTHING but the hard thing that you were ‘supposed’ to do.
The reasons are NOT because of laziness, or dare I even say NOT to self-sabotage; but because most of us find it hard to feel uncomfortable for a long period of time. Sticking to a plan, like finishing the last 20% of a side-project, can be extremely uncomfortable. The tasks that are usually left at this point are difficult… Sometimes we need to ask for help… A lot of the time, we don’t even know if the thing we are creating is going to be successful. Uncertainty can make you feel very uncomfortable.
How can you fight back against procrastination?
There are a lot of things you can do to prevent procrastination, but let me say one thing first: procrastination isn’t all bad! Sometimes, we need to stop staring at the blank screen in front of us and allow ourselves the time to play a silly game, so that we can come back later on with an amazing level of inspiration to seriously get going!
This is especially true for tasks that appear to be really difficult, or just seem too hard to complete… Pause and do something else: doodle, play a game, stare out of the window or go for a run…
When you return you’ll discover that your subconscious continued working on the issue without you even realise, and you’ll likely be able to complete the task with less friction.
5 Ways you can Fight Back
If you find yourself procrastinating all the time – where not even giving your subconscious space to process helps; you might find these tips useful:
- Break up those long and difficult tasks: avoid allowing them to become too big and threatening.
- If you start to feel the urge to abandon the task – stop and wait… Don’t do anything for at least 10 seconds (longer if it helps). Breath and don’t think, just experience what is going on within you. Allow yourself the time to examine the feelings of discomfort – where do you feel it within your body? How does it affect your heart rate, your breathing, the colour of your face? … Eventually the feeling of discomfort will slow down and your concentration will return. Stick with the task – even if it’s only for another minute or two. Avoid giving into the temptation of stopping right away. It’s not a bad thing to feel a little uncomfortable, but continue to persist. Without persistence, we’d still all be living in caves!
- If uncertainty is your issue: find out what you fear most. Really zoom in on it and find out how justified that fear is. “F-E-A-R has two meanings: ‘Forget Everything And Run’ or ‘Face Everything And Rise.’ The choice is yours.” – Zig Ziglar (Thanks Roos for the quote).
- Be your own best friend: We usually find it unbearable to disappoint our best friend by not keeping our promises to them… But, we break the promises and commitments we make to ourselves all the time. You’ll have dozens of new ideas all the time, so you’ll want to abandon your project every time things get hard; but… when you remember the promise you made to yourself – committed to a result: you’ll remember to be your own best friend, doing ANYTHING to keep that promise!
- Meditate: Teaching the ‘monkey in your head’ that they DO NOT run the show – you do. Learn when to restrain and control those impulses of distraction. This mental workout of training your ability to withstand discomfort might be the easiest thing you can do, so that you can yield tremendous results!
Thanks for reading you are awesome. You know that, right?!
Fight Against Procrastination and Finish that final 20%!
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