Procrastination - Is It Causing You
to Lose Focus With Your Goals?

by Catherine Pratt

Wayne Gretzky has a great quote on procrastination: Procrastination is one of the most common and deadliest of diseases and its toll on success and happiness is heavy.
procrastination can cause you to lose focus on your goals

You start out with big plans and ideas towards your new desired Life Direction and have set up some goals to get you there. It all starts out well. You have lots of energy and you’re making progress. Then comes the day when your energy is a little less focused and you start to feel the pull of procrastination or you find you’re easily distracted by anything and everything (email and surfing the net anyone?).

Every day it gets a little worse and then before you know it, your Life Direction is totally off the rails and you’ve slipped back into the way things were before. Why does this happen? You might think you’re just a procrastinator or consider yourself a failure. More likely you could just be dealing with one of the following 3 factors:

1. It’s Work:
To achieve your goals, you’re going to have to take some sort of Action. Whether that’s getting out and using that new gym membership you bought, learning that new software program or updating your resume. There’s no more thinking about it, it’s do it time. This is when a lot of people can get stuck in that they want to do it but the desire to do the work is not quite as strong.

It’s time to renew your beliefs in why are you doing this?
- What are you going to gain from it?
- Imagine your new life when you accomplish this goal.

Then go and do some work on it. Even as little as 10 minutes will move you in the right direction. It’s far easier to surf the net and check your email rather than doing the work you know you need to do but if you focus on the why behind your goal it can really help to motivate you to take action. Here’s some tips:

• try to clear your workspace of distractions
• turn off your email
• let voice mail or your answering machine pick up the phone
• don’t turn on your internet unless you need that for your work
• tell yourself you just need to do it for 10 minutes.
Whether it’s exercising or updating your resume you just need to get yourself started. It’s fine if you can only do it for 10 minutes but usually you’ll find that once you’ve started, you’ll keep going for much longer than that.

Also, sometimes, you've been working hard and you start thinking, “There’s got to be an easier way” so you start researching for something. Usually, you’ll find that “No, there isn’t an easier way.” You just need to do the work. It’s why there will probably always be “Get Rich Quick” schemes. People want the final result but not have to do the work to get there.

I can give you a personal example. Some days I find it hard to write articles. Even to think about what I’m going to write about can be a struggle. I would be far easier to see if I can find some free articles to post. But that’s not what I want for my site. I want it to be original content that you can’t find anywhere else. It’s work though. The reward for me after I do the work is the satisfaction and fulfillment of the finished page. I couldn’t get that if I just used a free article. It’s worth it but it does require effort and good old elbow grease.

The other thing that can happen when you’ve been working towards your goal for awhile is that it starts to lose its newness and excitement. This is when it’s important to keep reviewing the benefits of what you’re doing and keep the end result in mind. And remember to congratulate yourself on how far you have come and how well you’re doing. Just keep going, step by step.

2. Leaving the Comfort Zone:
On the way to your new life, you’re probably learning new things. It can be tough to push yourself out of your comfort zone again and again. It’s far easier to sink back into old habits. That’s not what you ultimately want though. It’s important to remember that soon your new habits will be your comfort zone. It just takes a little bit of time to get there. It will be rewarding to have these new tools that keep pushing you to becoming better and better.

It does not matter how slow you go as long as you do not stop - Confucius

3. Not Knowing What To Do Next:
Sometimes you need to take the time to stop and figure out what would be the next best action item. Ask yourself, "What’s the next step I need to take?" instead of just blindly going forwards. You may also find that you haven’t broken the tasks down into small enough steps which can make you feel overwhelmed and not know what to tackle next. If that's the case, simply take one of your action items and break it down into the smallest pieces possible. And then do even just one of them. Even knowing you have achieved one tiny step can help you break through the barrier of procrastination as you become excited about your goals again.

Another part of this is that for example, if you decide to get organized, you don’t have to do it all in one day. Sometimes we scare ourselves off by being too gung-ho. Do it in small stretches of time. It’ll be far easier if you tell yourself you’re going to sort through one stack of paper today or that you’re going to spend one hour cleaning your desk every Friday rather than saying you’re going to keep at it until it’s done or that you’re going to spend your whole weekend cleaning the garage.

Monitor Your Focus
As soon as you catch yourself getting more interested in a procrastination activity, try to figure out why it’s happening. Awareness is the key to understanding what you need to do in order to stay on the track to achieving more in your life.

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