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Strategies for Overcoming Procrastination

When we decide to make changes in our lives, one of the biggest obstacles we might need to overcome is procrastination. We want to change, yet we keep putting off the very steps that will create the desired results. A couple of years ago, we wrote about the negative effects of procrastination (click here).

Now, here are four strategies that can help overcome it:

1. Use obvious reminders – One of the hardest parts of forming new habits is actually remembering to perform the new habits we are trying to put in place! A habit, by definition, is something we do automatically. When we operate on autopilot, we might actually forget the promises we’ve made to ourselves.

The easiest way to overcome this forgetfulness is to place visible reminders in obvious places. Use reminders in your calendar, computer, tablet, or hand-held device. Or try using brightly colored sticky notes and colored markers. Stick them wherever you might need a little wake up call. However, try to limit the notes to no more than 3 or 4, and be sure to change them around frequently so you don’t become accustomed to them and begin to overlook them.

2. Envision the outcome – We often avoid tasks that we feel won’t be enjoyable. Instead, take some time to think about why you will enjoy your activities, even if it’s simply the outcome that makes you feel inspired. State your reasons aloud, and affirm the good reasons why you should get moving. For example, “I enjoy working out because it makes me feel good, I can release tension, and I get that great endorphin rush!” Then take a few minutes to visualize the outcome in your mind. See yourself with a strong, firm, healthy body. Imagine yourself having plenty of energy to run around and play with the kids or be more productive at work. After just a few minutes of these visualizations, you may suddenly appreciate the wisdom of huffing and puffing and sweating for 30 minutes and make that workout a priority.

3. Psych yourself up – Repeat after me: “I want to do this. I can do this. I deserve to do this. I am powerful enough to create the life I want. I refuse to be held back by my fears and negative habits. I am capable of so much more than I’ve done so far. No matter how successful I get, there is always room for improvement and growth. Yes I can, yes I can, yes I can!” Using affirmations like this, you will feel your resolve grow stronger, and your excitement build, and you will actually look forward to taking the steps that lead you down the path to success.

4. Consistency wins the game – Remember that forming new habits and overcoming procrastination is a moment-to-moment decision. It would be great if we could just decide to change and have it be so, but it doesn’t usually work that way. We need to become aware of our self-defeating actions, and make the effort to change them moment-to-moment, day-to-day, week-to-week. Keep this in mind when setting your goals. In the end, it is our willingness to keep getting up again after we’ve stumbled or fallen that will eventually strengthen our will and lead us along the path to success. So, if you have been struggling with procrastination, don’t despair! Simply set yourself up for success by developing strategies that will blast your excuses right out of the water.

To learn more about changing habits, read our summary of “The Power of Habits.”