“Damn, I cannot tolerate my job anymore,” said Adam as he closed his laptop shut. “I will start my business venture soon,” he mumbled as he walked to the fridge to grab himself an energy drink.
As he sipped on the beverage, his mind ran wild. He had some ideas for his startup, which he believed had the growth potential.
Adam pulled out his phone and texted a couple of his close friends. “It’s a brilliant idea, let’s talk about it soon,” they said and passed imaginary hi-fi smileys on the Whatsapp.
Happy with his progress, Adam tucked himself to sleep to end the tiring day.
- The cycle of planning and postponing
- Why do people keep postponing their goals?
- How to stop waiting and start doing?
The cycle of planning and postponing
Guess what happened the next day? He went back to his old routine, and so did his friends.
Everyone completely forgot his plan for starting the business for a few weeks. When he hit the next point of frustration with his job, he suddenly remembered it again. He texted his friends about his startup idea and clinked glasses only to forget it the next day. The same cycle followed.
Frustration – Idea – The plan to begin – Back to routine.
Day turned into weeks, weeks into months, and months into years. Yet, Adam was still where he always was – complaining about his current job with a plan to start a business of his own.
Does Adam’s story sound familiar to you? Many people plan on chasing a goal in the future but never begin. The dream remains what it is – a dream.
The cycle of false planning follows the loop shown below.
When you’re frustrated you think of an idea to get out of it. Motivated by the idea, you come up with a mega plan to achieve huge targets. But, in no time, you slip back to your old routine.
Why do people keep postponing their goals?
You feel like postponing your goals for two significant reasons:
1. Fear and uncertainty
Chasing your goal involves some amount of risk. For example, starting your venture requires an investment of time and money. Choosing an alternate career might lead to a lower income.
The fear of losing what you have and the uncertainty of your success makes you take the safer route of sticking to what you have.
2. Preferring to stay in the comfort zone
Chasing your goal requires a great deal of effort, energy, and time. While your current situation might have some issues, you prefer the comfort zone instead of putting in hard work.
Though you know that you will reap the returns in the future, you prefer staying in the comfort zone today than the possibility of luxury in the future.
How to stop waiting and start doing?
Here are five simple tips you can start implementing today to start taking action:
1. Don’t emphasize on specific future dates
“I will start next ..” The sentence ends with week, month, quarter, or year.
By setting a future date, you’re only lying to feel good about yourself. Do you know that more than 80% of the people give up on their new year resolutions before the end of January?
Do not fool yourself into starting at a future date.
The first best time to begin was in the past. The next best time to begin is now.
Yes, right now. It doesn’t matter whether you are eating a bag of chips on your couch or taking a flight to Iceland. You can take some action right now to proceed one step further towards your goal.
“If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.”Jim Rohn
Not every day will your motivation run high. On certain days you’ll feel no adrenaline rush to make progress towards something you genuinely care about. And that is normal.
I am passionate about writing and growing my blog, but on some days, I hate the feeling of writing. But if I write only on the days I feel like, I will fail to accomplish my goal.
Whenever my shoulders are drooping, I use the cookie jar method to imbibe motivation within myself. This method was devised by David Goggins, the man who ran a 100-mile ultra-marathon without regular practice.
Goggins suggests making a mental note of all your triumphs and victories in advance. No matter how big or small, recall all of them and place them in an imaginary jar.
Consider each of your accomplishments as a cookie. Whenever you find yourself lacking the enthusiasm, take a fictional cookie out of the jar and eat it. In other words, you must remind yourself about winning a comparable battle before.
The thought pumps in extra energy into your veins to keep going, no matter how hard the current obstacle seems like.
3. Use the 5-second rule
The hardest part of completing a difficult task is taking the first step.
- Want to wake up early? The most challenging part is sitting up.
- Want to work out? The most challenging part is getting ready.
- Want to start your own business? The most challenging part is performing the first action after planning.
Mel Robbins wrote a book called the 5-second rule to overcome simple forms of procrastination. The rule is all about making a mental countdown 5-4-3-2-1 and immediately doing what you plan to postpone.
When the alarm sounds, count 5-4-3-2-1 and sit up. When the episode on Netflix ends, count 5-4-3-2-1, and get to work.
As simple as the technique sounds, it is highly effective in beating procrastination. The book explains various scenarios where you can apply the rule based on Mel Robbins’ experience.
4. Make daily progress on long term goals
When I had made up my mind to start working out, I had a long term goal of having ripped abs. The funny part is, a couple of years went by before I actually started exercising.
Often, you set your eyes on the final outcome and postpone the first step of action. Unless you break your goal into actionable daily steps, you will reach nowhere.
Take your final target and ask yourself, “What can I do this year to make it happen?”. Based on the action you come up with, ask yourself again, “What can I do this quarter to move one step forward.”
Keep asking the question until you come down to action items for the current week or the day. Keep track of the tasks you need to work on each day/week and knock them out of the park.
5. Approach your day with a plan
I had a habit of showing up at work and then going through the day based on the tasks that came up.
A lot of emails today? No problem, I will spend more time answering them all.
Fewer tasks today? Wait, let me scratch my head and figure out what long term task can I work on today?
Such an approach curtailed any progress towards my long term goals. I solved the problem by drafting a short plan at the start of each day.
If I asked you in the morning, “What are the important things you must work on today?”, will you have a clear answer? Most people don’t.
If you approach your day as it comes, you will leak time one way or the other. Having a to-do list does not suffice because it grows in size over time.
At the beginning of each day, you must be clear about the top 3-5 things you will work on, which help your long term goals. If you don’t, random tasks will take over your schedule. Before you realize what’s going on, the end of the day will arrive.
When the same routine persists, you enter a never-ending cycle of bumping from one task to another, which does not help you achieve your real goals.
Making a plan to chase your long term goals means nothing unless you start.
Following your dream is not about having a sudden enlightenment one night, informing people, turning excited, and going back to the old routine the next day.
To achieve your dreams, you must stop waiting, move a step beyond planning, and start doing.
“Your Life Is Happening Right Now: Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Be brave and take risks. Your life is happening right now.”Roy T. Bennett
Maxim Dsouza has spent over a decade experimenting and finding various time management techniques to improve his productivity. He strongly understands the fact that time is a limited commodity and tries to make every second count. He has extensive experience in leadership in startups, small businesses, and large corporations.
He has helped people of different professions and age groups gain clarity on their goals, improve focus, revise their time management skills and develop an awareness of their psychological cognitive biases.