The End of Procrastination:
How to Stop Postponing and Live a Fulfilled Life
“A year from now, you will have wished you started today.”
It’s the one thing we’ve probably all been guilty of over the course of our lives, and that’s the inadvertent and often unconscious habit of simply ‘putting things off’.
So you can imagine my relief when I recently came across a great book by authors Petr Ludwig and Adela Schicker, named ‘The End of Procrastination’.
Whether we realise it or not our most vital resource in life is time, after all it’s the only resource that once diminished can never be replaced. However, too often than not we can easily find ourselves reaching the end of our lives wondering ‘what did I really do with my time here on planet Earth’.
It was an experience that was recently conveyed to me my one of our Leading in the Light community members who had recently found herself visiting a palliative care unit of a hospital, where an elderly man facing a terminal prognosis, took her aside to remind her of how precious and limited he felt his time had been here, and how we wished he could have lived a life that was more true and meaningful to himself.
So if you’ve been looking for a way to beat the ‘procrastination blues’ and feel that this year is the year to make a significant and outstanding difference, then here are some of the key insights, inspirations and wisdom that I gathered from Petr and Adela’s book.
Procrastination – Definition: Putting things off intentionally or habitually
We’re living in an age of ‘Decision Paralysis’:
With so more new information being generated everyday and with increasing levels of distraction, its getting harder for us to discern our truth and make decisions, this in turn can lead to greater levels of procrastination and avoidance over the things that are most important in our lives.
The cure? Train your brain to focus on what is most important by installing small daily habits that move you forward. Whether that be committing to drinking a litre of water, or taking a small walk around your block, regular consistent habits lead to long term change and increased motivation.
There are 4 Steps to Greater Personal Effectiveness:
At the core of all procrastination is often a resistance or fear to doing what is most important. Creating a radical shift in this consciousness takes a 4 step approach that includes:
 A shift in internal motivation:
By becoming more connected to our vision and ‘why’ desire something, the greater the level of motivation around it.
 Fostering greater self-discipline:
Installing small habits and taking regular and consistent actions towards the accomplishment of our goals is vita. While it often takes 21 days to embed and install a new habit or behaviour, the greatest resistance is often found at the start of our journey. Gathering momentum and taking the step forward to what we desire is vital.
 Creating a state of feeling good:
When we feel good about our self we are more apt to take actions that are in alignment with our highest good. This process starts with self-belief and is self-perpetuating, leading to greater resilience, esteem and a sense of optimism or luck.
In order to develop ourselves we need to have objective view of our personal performance and results. This will help us to see where we need skill or resource development, helping us take greater steps to what we really want to create and attract.
We Must Connect with Our Intrinsic Motivation:
According to Ludwig and Schicker, many people are still conditioned believe that the only form of motivation is the ‘carrot and the stick’. While extrinsic motivation can help us to move forward (think of your boss giving you an ultimatum to get a task done or face the consequence of losing your job, or your partner telling you that if you don’t stop smoking they will be leaving you for ever), the effectiveness of this type of motivation is not enduring long-term.
So instead of focusing on goals, they suggest that we instead find ways to connect with a greater vision. An inspired and bigger ‘why’ that literally lights us up and acts as a beacon of possibility for our life journey. Doing so helps to open-up greater states of personal flow and freedom. Instead of focusing on short-term goals we become engaged and inspired in the ‘journey’ of self-realisation. What’s more the pre-frontal cortex becomes awakened and it is this part our brain that can help us override the fears, doubts and limitations perpetuated by our ego and or limbic system.
We Must Develop Greater Self-Regulation:
Self-regulation is the skill of giving yourself an order or directive, and then following through. Every year millions of people the world over make new year resolutions, only to find themselves a few days later having broken their own commitments to themselves.
The biggest influencer of our personal and professional success is found in our human ability to master our emotions. But how can we gain better control over our emotions? How can we learn to overcome negative emotions that place us in states of anxiety, fear, flight or freeze, and gain our power back?
The key is in learning to develop our capacity to self-regulate by learning to develop the ability of our ‘rational side’ to direct and align with our ‘emotional side’. Figuratively speaking, we all have a wild elephant (the emotional limbic system) and a rider (our rational mind). And therefore we need to learn how to empower our rider with the necessary awareness to direct our elephant in the most harmonious and advantageous way. By making small commitments and keeping them we gradually train the elephant to follow our command.
Building Better Habits:
If we are truly going to overcome procrastination and step into greater levels of empowerment in our lives, then we will need to learn how to install good habits. The greatest barrier to any new habit is the body and mind’s desire to remain in the status quo. Afterall remaining in such states is comfortable.
So, if you’ve spent the last year in lockdown without exercise and now want to get fit and healthy focusing on a 10 km run straight out of the gate may be quite confronting for your ‘elephant’. However, by learning how to ‘lower the bar’ and find the smallest task/action or outcome that we can commit to we can slowly begin to train the ‘elephant’ to awaken and to enjoy the process of exercise. This might mean setting an initial goal to just walk 15 minutes a day, or to run for just 3-5 minutes daily. Gradually raising the bar after that will train your ‘elephant’ to get started, enjoy the process and know that its capable of accomplishing more.
We Need to Discover More of Our Heroic Self:
While the term ‘Heroism’ may often bring up the notion of ‘extraordinary acts’ of courage or endeavour, Ludwig and Schicker definite it more aptly as simply being the skill of intentionally stepping out of our comfort zones.
Everyday we are being offered by the ‘university of life’ the opportunity to embrace a little more courage, a little more fortitude and a little more resilience. Simply taking small steps to move beyond our comfort zones rewards us with an extra shot dopamine – as the reward centre of the brain lights up to acknowledge our growth. And its this ‘feel good factor’ that encourages us to keep growing and experiencing more of our soul’s innate potential.
So how can you become more ‘heroic’ in your everyday life? By embracing the micro-habit of heroism in our daily lives. Regularly stepping out of the comfort zone. Giving ourselves orders and directives and consciously stepping forth all activate the brain’s reward centre.
Overcoming Our Patterns of Learned Helplessness:
When it comes to procrastination we sometimes find ourselves experiencing states of learned helplessness, a belief that we somehow don’t have the capacity or resources to change the quality and direction of our lives. Often these ‘stuck states’ can lead to resignation, depression and hopelessness. In many ways we may find ourselves in an endless loop:
- A feeling of self-doubt
- That leads to states of helplessness
- That makes us resign or give away our sovereignty
- Where we don’t feel like doing anything
- That leads to feelings of guilt
- Before the cycle starts again
How do we break free of these stuck states? According to the work of influential South African psychologist Phillip Zombardo, work done with American war veterans has shown that our brains work in different perspectives:
- Past-positive oriented
- Past-negative oriented
People focused on their past-negative orientation often remained stuck in their patterns. While those who could start to see the negative past as a gift and blessing, were able to release the emotional energy associated with it, freeing themselves up to embrace a more positive future. The first step is to increase your future orientation by understanding how the challenges of the past can positively influence your future.
How Can We Stop Procrastinating?
While we all have a limited time on Earth, it is the quality our small decisions and actions that will ultimately shape the destiny of our lives. In ‘The End of Procrastination‘ you will find a wonderful and compelling narrative of key insights and practices from the fields of neuropsychology, personal growth, science and management that can help you awaken more of your innate capacity to create a life of significance.
Additionally, what I found refreshing with this book was that it was not only easy to read, but it is also founded in a depth psychological research and practice. Most of all the authors have included simplified practices and tools to help embed these practices into our daily lives, while also providing engaging diagrams and working models to help simply the learning and engage more of the right side of our brains. And its why I would highly recommend this book to any purpose-driven leaders, business owners and individuals who are looking to break-free of procrastination, fear and doubt, in the pursuit of greater happiness and fulfillment.
Ready to Switch on a Greater Light?
Les Price is a transformational coach, author, speaker and intuitive who works with aspiring individuals, heart-centred business owners and purpose-driven leaders who want to expand their purpose, presence and influence, and make a bigger and more significant difference in their world.
If you’re in a place where procrastination, self-doubt, fear or helplessness is holding you back from realising the life or business that you know you were born to live, then make sure book an obligation-free 15 minute discovery session with Les to learn more about how we can help you move forward on your journey.
Additionally, you may also want to learn more about our Ignite Your Inner Light program and our Leading in the Light online community.