Sometimes we are our own worst enemies. We have this idea which we will further our career or business, and yet we don’t act on it. Either we get distracted by another bright shiny object or justify that we’re too busy or too tired to work on this idea.
What we don’t realize is the huge cost of procrastinating – it keeps us from accomplishing our biggest dreams, we end with having to live with frustrations and jealousy.
I should know because I procrastinated big time -and this is on one personal project that I could have done in a few weeks considering that I write for a living.
I always wanted to become a publisher. I love the journalism profession and choosing online publishing as a side business is to me a natural progression. When I put up a travel site providing advice and inspiration to solo female travelers, I knew that in order to drive traffic and progress to selling travel and lifestyle guides online, I needed to build an e-mail list.
Knowing, however, is different from doing. I procrastinated for far too long (a year I think) before I finally decided to sit down to write a free downloadale e-book that will build my list, establish my expertise as a solo female traveler and nurture my community.
That I tend to procastinate is nothing new – most writers do as writing is both mentally and emotionally taxing. We procrastinate if only to avoid the aggravation. But it’s unusual for professional writers like myself to actually procrastinate for months !! And I can’t even say that life got in the way, because well, I’m usually very goal-oriented and motivated and never let anything stand in my way when I want to accomplish a major goal (friends and family be damned).
In the end, however, I managed to get past procrastination and self-published an e-book that was downloaded several times, boosted traffic to my site and helped me to move forward as a mediapreneur.
There’s no magic formula to banish procrastination. But there are some tactics that I managed to employ to move past procrastinating and achieve my goals:
1. Set a target date and commit to accomplishing that goal on that time
Journalists are trained to to beat a deadlines – daily deadlines, hourly deadlines (as news consumers are now demanding to get updates all day). We know how to write stories in a very short time, knowing that we need to beat a deadline.
You don’t need to be a journalist to “condition ” yourself to beat a deadline. By setting a a specific time to accomplish something, the goal becomes more concrete – not just some abstract concept . It gives you a sense of urgency, you have to do this no matter how, no matter what.
When I decided to publish the e-book I decided that I willl ship it at November 11, 2011. aka 11-11-11. Not that I’m into numerology, but last year, I was an active member of this online woo-woo community, and in its very active forum, everyone were talking about the auspiciousness of 11 -11- 11. I figured, 11-11-11 is good enough for me as I want to be number one. So I commited to ship on that day and scheduled everything – writing, editing, designing, marketing – in such a way that I will be able to ship by 11-11-11.
I did ship in 11-11-11 and it was a success!
2. Set your intention for the day, every day, including weekends
One of the reasons why we tend to procradmated is we tend to get overwhelmed by the big goal that we set for ourselves. We look at our goals and we thought: Oh god, I’m soo tired and stressed, how will I even find the time to build a side business or accept that project so I can get a promotion or get new clients for my business.
The key is to break down your project into several smaller chunks a.ka. micro tasks and then commit to do just one micro task each day. Make this your intention for the day – you can meditate on it or write it down in your daily journal
In writing my e-book, my intention was to do one thing a day – send an e-mail to my designer, edit a 1,000 word post or writing a very rough draft of an intro.
3. Get an accountability partner
Since this is a self -published book, I can’t rely on an editor to breathe down on my neck, nagging me to finish this e-book asap. So I looked for someone who I can be accountable to – someone who will remind me – pressure me- to finish this whatever happens.
That’s why, in the end I joined a mastermind group of women entrepreneurs. This is an international online group composed of self-motivated and ambitious women and mentored by two successful women entrepreneurrs themselves. The group had a very active online forum, and that’s where I post my progress, holding me accountable.
4. Do some inner work
Fear is perhaps one of the biggest reasons why we procrastinate. Fear of failure, fear of rejection.
I refused to admit it then, but it was ony later that I accepted that fear has kept me from writing and publishing that e-book. Fear that I’m not good enough, that people won’t read my e-book so i’m just wasting my time, of being ridiculed for baring my soul, of being dismissed as a wannabe.
I learned to face and get over these fears by doing a lot of inner work. Meditations, journal writing, mind and body exercises (like yoga) – the all calmed me, and built my confidence. The confidence to own my gifts and achievements, to honor my voice and to honor my writing. That have the right to write this e-book, that I have a message and this message needs to be heard, that I accomplished so many things in my life so definitely l deserve to be heard. That knowledge, that confidence pushed me to finally just do it!
You don’t have to be paralyzed by fear. Fear and insecurities will not disappear from your life, but you can do something to face it and get the confidence that will accomplish whatever your goals are. Yes, it will involve a lot of inner work, but the time and energy spent on it are well worth it.