During a recent presentation of my keynote, “Blasting Thru Brick Walls,” I gave examples of the four types of walls people build;
I was chatting with some of the audience members afterward and one of them said, “My brick wall is procrastination, what category does that fit in?”
Instant silence. All eyes turned to me. Clearly there was more than one person who wanted an answer to that question.
Procrastination, I explained, is not a brick wall. It’s a symptom of a brick wall. I mean, think about it - if you knew that moving forward was going to cause you to bang your head against a brick wall you’d put it off as long as possible, wouldn’t you?
Here are just a FEW of the problems that show up as procrastination - I could write an entire BOOK on this, but I don’t have time for that (which means I’m going to PROCRASTINATE doing it - see how that works?) But this will be enough to get you thinking about the walls that might be causing you to “put off til tomorrow what you would have BENEFITED from doing today!”
Keep in mind that most of these aren’t CONSCIOUS “notes to self.” This is the subtext behind your choosing to fill your time with something other than the thing you know you NEED to do to get where you WANT to be.
Let’s start with examples of the wall of Circumstance - the “I can’t do that right now” statement.
If I wait I might have more… money, time, focus…
If I wait I might be skinnier, smarter, more successful…
If I wait I might be more confident, educated, credentialed…
But WAIT - aren’t those all where you WANT to go? How are you going to go there without doing what you NEED to do?
What about the wall of Style - the “I can’t do it that way” statement?
If you’ve never taken the Kolbe A Assessment(TM) you may not realize how important knowing your personal STYLE is to being productive.
Kathy Kolbe, the theorist and scientific mind behind the Kolbe Wisdom says “Procrastination is the minds’ way of protecting itself from what it does not do NATURALLY.” Her mantra (mine too) is “Change your LIFE, not your SELF!”
We’re all hard-wired to do things a certain way, and if you’re forcing yourself to do it in a way that isn’t natural you’ll keep putting it off because your subsconsious mind says…
If I wait I might discover an easier way to do it!
Of course, your “conative” abilities aren’t the ONLY style challenge you’ll have. (Conative, along with cognitive and affective, is one of the parts of the mind - it’s the striving instinct that says “do it THIS way or else.” It’s also what is measured by the Kolbe Assessments.)
But anything you ask yourself to do that is unnatural or far outside your comfort zone is likely to get put off for a LOT of tomorrows.
The wall of Consequences is a HUGE culprit in causing procrastination. This is the “I can’t do that because if I do THIS will happen” statement.
Every choice we make comes with an opportunity cost. If you commit to one thing other things get crossed off as possibilities. If you went to the Cardinals’ playoff game you missed the concert. If you bought that new couch you had to put off buying the new grill.
Every step taken in one direction is a step NOT taken in another direction.
But if you put off taking steps where do you think you’ll end up?
Which leaves the wall of Design - the “I can’t do it EXACTLY the way I have it pictured so I can’t do it at all” statement.
Oh boy - perfectionism and procrastination go hand in hand. They’re twin souls. Maybe Siamese Twins. Joined and separable only by a miracle. Right?
If it’s GOT to be a certain way, and you’re not convinced you are ready or able to make it that way, you’ll NOT do it for as long as you can get away with it.
(Ever wonder why I post so infrequently? Writing is one of the FEW things I am a perfectionist about. I go through a little agony every time I click “Publish.”)
So what to do to cure procrastination?
First step is to define the OUTCOME of doing whatever it is you’re NOT doing. Is it getting fit? Or maybe getting rich. Or maybe just getting STARTED!
Remember it is NOT getting the lawn mowed (it’s having a neatly mowed lawn) and it’s NOT having the thank you cards written (it’s one more level of relationship development with everyone who will receive one of those cards.)
When you are clear about the OUTCOME use it to fill in this blank - “What I really want is…”
Now you’re ready for the “blasting caps.”
But this post is getting long and I NEED to click “Publish.” (I promise not to let myself proof it to death - I’m teaching myself to “just release it.”)
So the Blasting Caps will have to wait til the next post.
That will give you time to diagnose your “wall.”
If you don’t procrastinate you’ll have that part all figured out by the time I tell you what to do about it. 🙂