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June 10, 2015

For Procrastinators: The Best Advice Ever.

Brett Jordan/Flickr

I read once that procrastination stems from low self-confidence.

We put off doing something because we don’t feel good enough to share it with the world—we tell ourselves and the world that we’re just not ready yet. We offer explanations to those encouraging us like, “I need to do this first and then I’ll be ready,”  but really, they’re excuses.

Procrastination is a curse that holds us back and keeps us stuck. It’s just a fancy word for fear.

But the truth is, we’ll never really be ready for the big, scary stuff.

We just learn to deal with it when we’re in the midst of it. The solution to procrastination is not more preparation—it’s courage.

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” ~ Anais Nin

We need to cut ourselves some slack and be willing to show our imperfection to the world. We don’t have to be recognised experts in our field to offer the same services that the experts do. We can offer our services in our own unique way.

Seeking perfection can cause us to procrastinate for weeks, months or even years, all in the name of getting our ducks in row. But if you’ve ever watched a row of ducks crossing the road, you may have noticed how that row comes together: mother duck steps out and all her ducklings line up behind her.

Only once we start will everything fall into place. But the more we prepare, the more things we uncover that need to be prepared. Left unchecked, it could go on forever. For us procrastinators, it often does…

But I’ve recently discovered a simple way to overcome this crippling anxiety:

Take a deep breath,

Say “F*ck it!” on the exhale,

And start before you’re ready.

I did this last month with a project I’ve been procrastinating over since January. I was hoping to run it in April, but April came and went and I was still making plans and not taking action. Then in May, I had an epiphany and I decided, ready or not, to just pick a start date. I announced to the world that I was going to start on the summer solstice and now, by hook or by crook, I need to have everything ready to rock by kick-off date. Yikes!

But sure enough, I finally started to market the program—at a low and subtle level, but I was putting it out there all the same. My deadline to have a sales page go live was June 1st and I did make that—although I still hadn’t recorded a sales video.

Every day this month, recording the sales video has taunted me from my “to do” list. And every day I had an excuse for not recording it. Because that’s the thing with procrastination: it keeps rearing its head—on the big things and the little—and we have to consciously choose to overcome it, again and again, until our confidence in ourselves grows and momentum starts to carry us through.

For me, deadlines help me get real. I stop indulging my fear and start scratching around for some courage. So, with only a week and a half left to market the program, yesterday I once again took a deep breath, said “F*ck it!” and just recorded something on my tablet.

It’s far from perfect, let me tell you. And if I had more time to play around with, I’d re-record it until the cows come home. But I don’t have more time and well, it’s me and it’s real. And by the time I’ve recorded 28 more (one per day of the course), I’ll be a whole lot better at it.

The first time we do anything is always a learning curve. We can’t have things be perfect beforehand—we have to just do it and learn from our mistakes.

I’m not saying to wing it without any proper foundations in place—that would be folly. But we need to reach a point where we say to ourselves, “Even though I’m not fully ready, I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.”

Back in the planning stages, when I was procrastinating heavily, I fantasized about having anywhere from 100 to 1,000 people join me on this program. And I wanted it to be perfect for all of these people.

Now, I don’t care how many or how few sign up. I’m looking forward to the experience, to all I will learn over the 28 days. I’m looking forward to becoming more practiced at recording videos and audios. I’m looking forward—hopefully—to some lovely interaction with students from all over the world.

I’m starting before I’m ready and, in doing so, I will become more ready for the next time.

And if you’re stuck in procrastination then I invite you to join me:

Long, slow inhale.

“F*ck it!” on the exhale.

And start before you’re ready.

 

 

Relephant:

7 Ways to Conquer Procrastination Once and for All.

How to Quit Procrastinating in 10 Easy Steps.

 

Author: Hilda Carroll

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo via Flickr

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