Maybe Tomorrow? Five Myths that Grow the Habit of Procrastination and Five Strategies That Build a Habit of Excellence by Dr. John Hackett, Ed.D.

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John Hackett

Maybe Tomorrow? Five Myths that Grow  the Habit of Procrastination and Five  Strategies That Build a Habit of Excellence

Midnight Motivation: What to Remember When Procrastinating – The ...

Are we fascinated or obsessed with goals and planning?

We buy the newest best electronic or paper and pencil planners. Every new years day, we write out business plans, diet plans, exercise plans, relationship plans, etc. we are planning and planning to move forward. Everyone one of us starts our day with a list of activities or a to-do list to achieve those New Years’ day resolution plans. We may include many cold calls, appointments, writing, working out. These goals may be short term, intermediate, or long term. These goals may be prioritized by necessity or importance. One thing is for sure every morning; we also face a thief whose objective is to dismantle all of our goals and plans. A thief, according to Charles Dickens that will steal our time to accomplish those goals. The name of that thief is procrastination.

Procrastination is the habit of not getting started on something of importance.

Procrastination is a  wily, sly thief who induces us to use rational sounding excuses to not do what we rationally know we need to. The worst part of procrastination is it can become a life habit. A habit that can affect many life situations from chores, to working out, to writing this article, to staying on a diet, to making cold calls difficult. Procrastination is an equal opportunity bad habit stealing time and forward movement for everyone and anyone if we let it.

The procrastination habit is one of the biggest reasons we don’t achieve our goal. Research conducted by Strava using over 800 million user-logged activities in 2019 predicts the day most people are likely to give up on their New Year’s Resolution for exercise is January 19. Strava calls it “Quitter’s Day.” This habit also has many side effects, such as draining your motivation, energy and self-confidence, and your self-worth.

William James, the father of modern psychology, noted:

“that nothing is as fatiguing as the eternal hanging on to an uncompleted task.”

The thing that makes procrastination so dangerous is the supposedly rational excuses you can use that perpetuate the habit. These are myths, appearing to be accurate, foster inaction and procrastination.

The habit of procrastination is really stopping you from being the best you can be and damaging many of your relationships.

There is good news here. Habits can be learned and unlearned, and we can learn to develop and grow new habits. Procrastination is a habit, and we can choose a habit of excellence. A leader in any organization has to lead themselves first. Leading yourself to unlearn the procrastination habit will be hard work but well worth the effort.

The first step is to call out the myths and look at the realities of procrastination.

Consider these five myths that perpetuate procrastination and the realities. Do any of them sound familiar?

Procrastination Myth #1. It isn’t the right time for me.

Reality #1. There is never a right time. Uncertainty is an ally of procrastination. The reality is that times of uncertainty bring the most significant innovation. One month before Mary Kay and George started Beauty by Mary Kay, as the company was then called, George died of a heart attack at the breakfast table. One month after George’s death on September 13, 1963, she started Mary Kay Cosmetics.

Procrastination Myth 2. I don’t have all the facts.

Reality #2 This is fear speaking as an ally of procrastination. Fear can lead people to flee, freeze, or fight. This pandemic has shown us that companies including in no small extent network marketers/direct sellers have thrived as they have as author Dr. Susan Jefferies says, “have felt the fear and done it anyway.” You may not know everything you do, however, know something to start.

Procrastination, Myth 3. I don’t have all the preparation I need, and I need to plan more.

Reality #3 Perfectionism in preparation is another ally of procrastination. We sometimes call it paralysis by analysis. There is no such thing as perfect as we live in an imperfect world with imperfect organizations and imperfect people. We must be prepared and know we never will know everything as we move forward. We don’t know all the answers to COVID 19  except for we are moving forward. Action, learning, unlearning and relearning  moving forward are the keys to a new habit of excellence

Don't wait until you are ready to take action. Instead, take ...

Procrastination, Myth 4. I am so busy I can’t possibly start now.

Reality #4 Busy activity can also be an ally of procrastination. This myth is especially dangerous because you are busy and busy is good, right? 

We must be careful not to confuse activity with accomplishment.

A tidy desk cleaned up for the tenth time this week looks good. A tidy desk, however, doesn’t generate sales or leads or connections; action by you does. 

Procrastination Myth #5. I can wait until the last moment.

Overconfidence is another ally of procrastination. We believe since we “know it all,” we don’t need to act to prepare. What makes this myth so dangerous is that sometimes you can get away with a lack of preparation. The biggest problem this myth is we don’t prepare; we are not as flexible to adjust when the situation is uncertain.

Chris Voss, a retired #1 hostage negotiator for the FBI, says it well his book, Never Split the Difference “when the pressure is on we don’t rise to the situation we fall to our level of preparation.” Our overconfidence leads us to procrastinate instead of move forward. Sadly we see this example in businesses that didn’t pivot their business model in response to the pandemic.

Do any of those procrastination myths sound like part of your life, your business, your activities?

There is good news here….

If procrastination is a habit, a learned behavior, we know two things. You can change your habits by choosing to change your behaviors. We can learn and practice new habits. You learned a new habit when you began to walk, ride a bike, or drive a car.

The magic to change habits is committed to action and repetition, moving forward

Take these five action steps to take one step a day to change the habit of procrastination for the habit of Excellence.

Action Step #1 Review the procrastination myths above as they apply to your life and business. Call out your myths and commit to actions to change the procrastination habit.

Action Step # 2. Recruit a training and accountability partner or a coach. A committed, honest friend to take this journey with you.

Action step #3 Develop and act on a plan of small to more substantial steps precisely practice skills prioritizing and acting. 

Action Step#4 Celebrate all progress success and learn new ways to act from both successes and failures. Act on all learnings and failures without judgment. Both are guides to your developing a habit of excellence.

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 Action Step #5. Practice, learn practice, and practice to develop a habit of excellence in your daily life habit. Nicki Keohohou of the Direct Selling World Alliance says it well “practice makes permanent.”

These five steps will help you start the process of unlearning the habit of procrastination and learning the habit of excellence. The journey can be long and hard.

Old Habits develop a shelf life and resistance to change, and honestly, they are comfortable.

Your commitment to being uncomfortable, intentional action steps, and change will make the difference. The difference will be for you as a leader, network marketer /director seller, person to be the best you can be. Your investment in yourself will also be a model for those who are watching you, team members, friends, and family. Your actions can be a model for all those you serve and lead.

How to start? Take the first step, follow the action steps, and as Nike says, “Just Do It.”

Resources

Haq Noor, S. According to Strava, this is the day to not quit. Runners Magazine, 8/1/2020

Jefferies, S.,2006, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, Holder &Stioughton, U.K.

Voss, C. with Raz, R. (2016) Never Split the Difference, Negotiating as if your life depended on it. Harper Collins Publications, New York. N.Y.

John Hackett
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