Do you prefer red squirrels or grey squirrels? Have you seen a squirrel running and jumping from tree to tree? Can you remember a squirrel missing its step and falling?
When you watch a squirrel climb a tree, holding a nut in its mouth, maintaining perfect balance, only to leap from branch to branch, you can’t help but be mesmerized by the languid fluid motion. Its four claws seemed to find a place to grip, coupled with its bushy tail adjusting its weight, it looks like a force of pure effective energy. Have you ever wondered how it does it? How does it know where to place its feet? Why does it not hesitate to consider whether it will fall or not? Does it not realise the danger of falling from that great height? Does it consider all the things that might go wrong by taking that seemingly reckless action? Are all of its moves and steps finely calculated and weighed to allow maximum results? Has it considered all the downsides of making that leap?
Have you ever procrastinated doing something? Maybe it was your project that is due in two weeks. When you first received the homework, your head was buzzing with ideas. You loved the idea of this project. You knew you could excel in it. When you were actually going to sit down and do it, something happened. It usually is an ‘emergency’, like your mobile ringing or another ‘urgent’ work that needed your attention. Before you know it, you are doing last-minute work that does not reflect your true ideas, merely just to complete it.
Maybe it is a new gym membership you have signed up for as you were determined to lose that weight and get fitter. You were pumped with enthusiasm, energy, and hope. This is it. You will get the body you have been longing for for ages. You probably bought new gym clothes and shoes. You even got yourself a gym buddy, someone who will lose that weight with you. When it was time to go to the gym, it was raining, the car broke down, you could not find your clothes, you had a headache and even when your gym buddy is outside your door, you found a reason (or excuse) not to make it.
Perhaps, it was the book you have been wanting to write or the business you have been wanting to start. You felt inspired to bring that value you had to the world. You wanted to share that knowledge with others so they will benefit. You wanted to make a difference. You found a need in the market, a pain that you had the relief for and you wanted to help others. Somehow, along the journey, even when all the plans were laid down, something held you back from execution.
The squirrel does not think (too much). It just runs, jumps, and leaps when required. Imagine if it had to contemplate every move. It would not survive. It would die.
Procrastination is common. I certainly have done it multiple times myself and if I am not careful, I still do it. There are different ways of how you can procrastinate. Let’s see if you can relate.
- The Perfectionist – This is when you feel you need to know everything before doing the deed. Or in other words, you refuse to do anything until you know everything. You spend more time trying to seek out the information than doing what you need to do.
- Lazy man – You just simply lack the motivation, want, or desire to do something though you know that is good for you and you need to do it. Very often, you know what to do but you do not do what you know.
- The Grass is Greener – This stops you from doing things because you compare yourself to others. For example, if you want to lose weight, you see another very fit-looking person and think to yourself, “I can never be like that, so why bother?”
- Fortune teller – This is when you start to worry about what the future would bring after you have done what you need to need to and fearing it may not be what you want. It is all in your head.
- Distracted Listener – When you get too easily influenced by others and keep changing what you are doing. You have the Shiny Object Syndrome and keep hopping around rather than focusing on doing what you know you need to do.
- Trash Inventor – You literally create crazy and mad reasons (excuses) for not doing something. If you heard yourself, you would laugh and be embarrassed. However, when you speak to yourself subconsciously, somehow, it makes sense. Have you press the Snooze button in the morning and convinced yourself it was the right thing to do? Do you remember what you said?!
Does any of the above describe you? Perhaps one, some, or even all! I know I had fallen trap to those identities from time to time! I still do! We all have some form or another. The trick is not to feed them. When you feed them too much, you run into the mistake of thinking they are your identity. They are not!
Also, they take huge amounts of energy. Have you ever spent the whole day fighting (or being) those identities above and find that nothing is accomplished when the day ends and you are exhausted anyway? Making a list of things to do is not the same as doing it!
When you strip all the excuses, smoke, and mirrors away, it usually boils down to one thing – fear. It is the fear of getting it wrong, the fear of getting it right, the fear of getting laughed at, the fear of being not enough, and any other forms of fear you can concoct up. Remember that fear is imaginary and not real. You are real. You are more. You deserve more. Success is committing to one idea over time. Don’t allow mediocrity to creep into your life. Do that thing you know you should do!
Here are three tips to overcome procrastination.
- Just do it. Actions drive out thoughts. When in doubt, just do it. You either get it right or wrong. If you get it right, you get the expected result (well done!). If you get it wrong, you learn (well done!). They are both winning results. However, no action equals no results, you lose.
- Remember your WHY. Make your WHY compelling. Link the immense pleasure when you do it and remember the enormous pain if you do not.
- Integration, not motivation. Literally plan it in your day, get accountability partners, make it your habit and part of your life, burn your bridges. Do NOT rely on motivation as human beings are conditioned to take the easy way always.
Think like a squirrel (not much going on there but reflex!) and act like a squirrel (Just do it!). Do what you need to do. Do what you should do. Do what you want to do. Do not allow yourself to hold you back. You are more than your thoughts. Take control of your inner demons that cause you to procrastinate. Just do it.
‘Just do it’ – Nike