According to Tim Urban who delivered a TED Talk two years ago, there are two or three entities in a procrastinator’s brain: the instant gratification monkey and the rational one which ensures that the activities that make sense get done. The third one is the panic monster who only shows up when the deadline arrives.
He further elaborates that there are two types of procrastinators: one who is inspired with the deadline and the other whose panic monster stays dormant indefinitely because the lifetime goal has no specific target date. The second one makes many professionals and ordinary people gravely unhappy. They cannot even start taking a step towards a grand version of themselves. And that is why, here are a few insights on how to overcome the situation, and save yourself from having a lifelong regret:
Have small and clear action plan, and begin. Carina Storrs in CNN agrees with Urban in that people who procrastinate tend to look for something fun or something that feels good instead of facing a challenging task. By keeping away from distractions (like social media) or making it hard to reach them, and conversely, letting the ones that matter be near (like the exercise bike which hasn’t been touched for a decade), you can easily form habits that are explicit and give you no other choice but to start.
Know your resistance level and use it. Chris Bailey describes the feeling of 95 % percent of people who put off acts that they’re expected to do. Based on research, people don’t want to do those that are uninteresting and not meaningful on a personal level. But, there may be a way to start doing them. Suppose you are to write a piece about the lost Mayan civilization, of which you know nothing about, can you give an hour of your time checking Google for pertinent information? If that doesn’t seem possible at the moment, give half of an hour or less to learn basic details. You may even become more absorbed and focused if you don’t force yourself. In time, you may continue to read about their history and be involved in discovering more of this mysterious group of people.
Make use of both your fears and courage. It is said that if something is important to you, you’re going to have any means to accomplish it. When we want or need for a crucial thing to take place, we can either be afraid or brave, and both can produce positive results if harnessed appropriately. Margie Warrell explains in a Forbes article that when we list down the harsh possibilities if the goal is not reached within a year, we jump into action. Likewise, if you brave toward the storm every single day, you can build momentum and reap a well-deserved reward in the end. She also suggested having accountability partners to help you see where you are in the direction of your goal.
Procrastination seems like a cycle of never-ending grief. First, you deny the existence of a hard task. You tell yourself it isn’t real, believing it will go away. Next, you get angry with yourself or your situation for prolonging the activity that would have been easier if done earlier. Then, you try to bargain with the heavens above to give you limitless energy to complete the supposedly annually planned project in less than three days. You get depressed with your hopeless case. Finally, you deal with the problem and live with the fact that you’re a procrastinator through and through.
You can accept that this habit may never change. Or you can start working to see things looking up. Admit to yourself that the challenge is big and that it requires sacrifice and can be painful. Be happy for the opportunity to grow and see yourself as someone who has the capacity to go up the ladder of success. Think of rewarding yourself at the completion of the project – a dream vacation, weekend stay in a hotel resort or the most significant of all – peace of mind. Be hopeful because you are a work in progress and the work itself is proceeding nicely. At last, you see yourself at the end of a chore that has meant a lot to you. Congratulations! You can meet your deadline – a short one – and eventually, as time passes by, longer and more important target dates to achieve fulfillment from realizing your long-time dream.