If you are like me, chances are there have been things in your life or business that you have been putting off. These things could be as mundane as deciding to wait another day to do laundry, or perhaps deciding to eat out because you didn’t feel like going to the grocery store. Other instances could be a little more serious such as avoiding a difficult conversation with someone you care about, or avoiding an annual check-up at the doctor’s office.
For me, interestingly enough, it was starting my magazine. I had the domain name and sat on it for a couple of years because I didn’t feel “ready” to do it.
So why do we procrastinate, and is it always a bad thing?
Mel Robbins wrote an amazing book called The 5 Second Rule. I have done Facebook Lives about it and have recommended it to a number of friends, and a few of them actually bought it as well. She discusses two types of procrastination. One is productive procrastination, which can turn out very well. A great example of this is during the process of writing a book, or creating something—whatever that is for you. There were times when I was writing my first book about student leadership when I wasn’t inspired, so I stopped for quite awhile. At times, feeling stuck might be a good signal to get up and walk away from that task for a bit and come back to it with a fresh set of eyes. Chances are that break could be the best thing whether it is for several hours or even a few days. In my situation, the book turned out much better than it would have if I had forced myself to finish immediately.
The second is destructive procrastination, which is the one we tend to think of more often. We aren’t really putting things off. Rather, we are putting off the feelings associated with procrastination. Perhaps we are afraid of failing at something, so we don’t do it even though we should. Conversely, we might actually be afraid of succeeding. Why? Because the next level version of yourself will take you out of your comfort zone. It might mean doing things you haven’t done before, meeting new people, or going places which are unfamiliar. It also could mean leaving behind the people, places, and environments you have been accustomed to your whole life.
To address this, Mel Robbins outlined a three step process for beating procrastination.
Step 1 is forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for putting things off, forgive yourself for allowing yourself to get into your current situation. If you are in a job you hate or in a relationship that isn’t working, don’t beat yourself up for being in that spot. You can’t change your situation permanently if you don’t feel deserving of a better solution.
Step 2 is visualize the future version of yourself, and ask what that version of you would do in your situation. For example, if I envisioned the billionaire version of myself, what would Billionaire Brian do right now?
Step 3 is just do whatever future version of you would do. Using my example again, what steps would Billionaire Brian to do fix his business if things weren’t going well? What would he say YES to, and what would he say NO to? Just move in the direction of your ideal self.
If you haven’t read The 5 Second Rule, I strongly recommend it. Anything you truly want is within your grasp. The only way to get it is to start.