Stop Procrastinating on Your Future!

Are You Living on Auto Pilot? 3 Steps to Break the Cycle 

Life can get busy. The family, the dog, your friends, finding time for personal hobbies and more! We get up in the morning, have breakfast, get ready for work, do our job, get back, have dinner, and go to sleep. And repeat. But is there a possibility we are getting sucked into our routines, forgetting to focus and take action on our hopes and dreams? Do you regularly dedicate some time to act and make steps towards your personal and professional goals?

The other day, I read an article on Insider where they interviewed Accountability Coaches Ali Schiller and Marissa Boisvert. The article explains how Ali & Marissa have identified four main types of procrastinators. To briefly summarise, the types are - The performer who says; "I work well under pressure"; The self-deprecator who says, "I am so lazy right now"; The overbooker who says, "I'm so busy" and The novelty seeker who says, "I just had the best idea!" I found these premises inspiring and felt prompted to think: how aware are we of our procrastinating habits and, are we aware we are procrastinating? 

According to Solving Procrastination, “studies suggest that procrastination chronically affects approximately 15%–20% of adults.” We have plans, ideas, dreams, goals and desires, but we find ways to avoid pursuing them and making steps. We find excuses to avoid taking action. This often leads to an ever-increasing sense of failure and low self-esteem, which brings us further and further away from our goals. So how do we break the cycle?

 

1. Practice Self-Awareness 

As with most things in life, especially those that affect us personally, awareness is the first and foremost step. Before we can change something in our lives, we must find awareness and recognise if there is something that needs addressing. In the case of procrastination, we must first recognise that we are procrastinating before we can do anything about it. It is crucial to understand that awareness isn't about judging ourselves. Being aware simply means noting and noticing a habit, a feeling or a thought. 

Procrastination often falls in the realm of habit. Habits are often linked to established behaviours, beliefs, neurological patterns and thought patterns. In this sense, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for example, looks at how “habits are behaviours wired so deeply in our brains that we perform them automatically”. This idea gives us a pretty good clue about why it can be hard to notice our habits and patterns. To break out of the cycle, practising self-awareness is key, making a point of doing so without judgement. 

Action Step: Make a written list of your goals, dreams and hopes and spend some time every week asking yourself if you have made any steps towards these goals. Again, this is not about judging how successful you are, but about getting yourself focussed on your behaviours and actions. 


2. Ask Yourself Why 

If you find you have not made any steps (whether small or big) toward your goals, dreams and hopes, it is time to be honest with yourself. Ask yourself: why have I not made any steps? Is there something I am afraid of? Are there any memories coming up when I think about my goals? What am I trying to avoid? 

When we procrastinate, especially when we do it unwittingly, there is often a deep-rooted emotion that is causing us to avoid action. The brain thrives on ‘feeling safe’ and so does our Ego. Whenever we feel fear, whether it’s fear of failure, fear of not being good enough, fear of not having the right skills (and so on), our brain (and Ego!) work very hard to ensure we avoid the situation, which to them means keeping us safe. 

Action Step: Be honest with yourself and ask the question: what is the real reason for my procrastination? Again, this is not about judging yourself. We all have fears, we are all human and it’s normal to feel afraid or worried. 


3. Start with Baby Steps 

Once you have identified the cause of your procrastination, it is time to take some form of action. Are you procrastinating because of fear of failure? Do you feel you have ‘what it takes’ to reach your goals? Whichever the reason behind your procrastination, one of my favourite ‘cures’ is to practice success. Go back to the written list you made about your goals, hopes and dreams and write down small steps you can make to achieve them. Making small steps and accomplishing small tasks will increase our sense of accomplishment and success. This, in turn, will boost our self-esteem, which will increase our willingness to take action. 

One thing to note: At this stage of the process, it is also important to assess our goals. Lofty goals or unrealistic expectations of ourselves will not be strong motivators. If your goals aren’t realistic enough, you will not feel the drive to achieve them and instead might run the risk of feeling you are failing. I am a strong believer that anything is possible and that there is nothing that you cannot do, be or have. However, if, for instance, you are an aircraft pilot and set the goal of learning how to drive a submarine within a month, you might find yourself quickly falling short. This will lead to the feeling you have failed and you will conclude that you are unable to reach your goals. 

So, once you have assessed your list, and feel satisfied with what’s on paper, begin to implement your small ‘baby steps’. Remember every action counts. It is not about making bold statements or radical decisions or moves. We reach our goals by working every day and, most importantly, by keeping our destination in mind. Very much like the captain of a ship always has in mind the port, you steer your life in the right direction by keeping your mind focussed on where you are heading. Have faith that you are going in the right direction and that your intention will infallibly lead you there. 

Action Step: Go back to the list you made about your goals, hopes and dreams. Now break it down into small baby steps which you implement every day. Break down action steps so that they feel manageable and achievable. For example, you could create a monthly list of things you set out to achieve. Then, break the list down further and outline a weekly and a daily schedule.

Remember: Small actions are often those that lead to our greatest successes. So even if this means sending an email, making a phone call or researching a piece of work and making some notes, get started and keep your goal in mind! 


Are you planning to take your career to the next level? 

If you are a Renewable Energy or a Sustainability professional and have set out to take your career to the next level, a baby step could be contacting one of our specialists to discuss your career objectives. You could speak with one of our Consultants to gain clarity and get help with creating a plan. Finding the right people who understand our goals and ambitions is key. Get in touch with us today, if you’d like to learn more about how we can help.
 

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