I’m just going to get this out of the way – say it out loud for the world to hear: I am a procrastinator.
The first step is admitting that you have a problem, right?
One good example: the five blog posts I was supposed to write prior to November, so that I could get through NaNoWriMo without having to worry about writing blog posts on top of my 1667 words per day – yeah, that didn’t so much happen.
Or, the fact that it’s Tuesday and I’m just sitting down to write this post.
I could go on, regaling you with tales of the times that I slipped in just under the wire, but I’ll spare you the gory details. Instead, I want to focus on how I intend to change this, and share another lesson from my mentor.
One of the things that he taught me is that momentum is the key to success.
We can hide behind large to-do lists and complain about all the things that are keeping us from doing what we really want to do…
or, we can stop bitching and take the first step.
Leo Babauta of Zen Habits is one of my favorite bloggers. I met him in Portland this year at the World Domination Summit, and in one of his sessions he talked about habits – how by doing one thing for even just a few minutes a day, repeated every day, you can easily build or break them.
So often we sit down and look at the project that we just agreed to, or the fun thing that we want to accomplish, and we get overwhelmed. As we look at the big picture or at the desired end result, we can’t figure out how in the world we’re going to get there.
Here’s where it all goes downhill: if you’re like me, you put the project down and tell yourself that you’ll pick it back up later when you’re feeling more motivated. And then it’s tomorrow and life gets in the way. And then it’s next week. And then you have a deadline bearing down on you; you leap into action and run yourself ragged as you sprint for the finish. Or, worse yet, you give up on the project altogether.
Here’s how I propose we fix this:
Stop. Take a deep breath. Look at the project ahead of you. Pick one step that you can take right now (it doesn’t even have to be the first step – start somewhere in the middle if that’s what motivates you to get started), and do it. Right now.
Tomorrow, take another step. Repeat.
Before long, with each small step that you take in the right direction, you will be gaining momentum. If you stumble in the middle, get back up and keep going. Hold on to that momentum, and let it push you toward completing that project.
And maybe, just maybe, when that deadline starts to loom large and previous versions of you would be pulling out your hair and losing sleep… the new and improved you will be able to sail on through to the finish line without breaking a sweat.
Who’s with me? I have a whole laundry list of things that I want to accomplish before the end of the year. Let’s take that first step, kick our procrastination habit, and gain some momentum!