Did you bring your bit of paper with your goal on from the last exercise?
If you missed it, find it here. Here’s what mine says:
I want to finish & deliver my online course on 1st January 2015.
And did you write your goal in your diary? I didn’t. I realised my diary only goes up to 31st December and I want to do mine on 1st January.
That gave me an ace excuse not to bother – it allowed me to procrastinate until right now.
Well, as promised, here is…
My best technique to help you abolish excuses and procrastination
…and we’ll work through it together because I clearly need it just as much as you do.
See it only takes a tiny little something to stand in the way – like my diary only going up to the end of the year, for Pete’s sake – for me to put something off until later. It’s not straightforward – I actually have to think of an alternative – and so I just have a cup of tea and check my Facebook instead.
Do you do something similar?
It can be because the task in hand is out of our comfort zone. For me, I was thrown because my diary stops at the end of December, I’ve nothing to stick a note to the mirror with, and my purse is too full to be having useful notes in it. (Old receipts and a broken keyring? Of course. Something useful? Nooo, don’t be daft.)
Whether it’s a huge goal that’ll take months (like creating my online course) or a little component of it that’ll take a minute (like writing it into my diary), it can seem ridiculously overwhelming for excuses such as:
- we’ve never done it before / we’re not sure where to start / it’s not mindlessly straightforward
- an unexpected spanner is thrown in the works
- the last time we did something similar it went wrong / we gave up / the result wasn’t encouraging.
So let’s deal with these one at a time:
we’ve never done it before / we’re not sure where to start / it’s not mindlessly straightforward
The first thing we need to do is break it down.
Into its components, I mean. What little steps do we need to take to make it happen? Let’s do this together.
Look at your goal on your bit of paper again and write down the first three tangible steps – the little ones that’ll make it happen – and roughly how long each will take. Here’s mine:
LCB step 1: Complete the planning grids for weeks 2-8. (90 minutes)
LCB step 2: Write the 5 minute introduction video script. (90 minutes)
LCB step 3: Write the 5 minute meditation script for week 1. (90 minutes)
Your turn. Keep them small! The smaller the better.
My step 1:
My step 2:
My step 3:
Don’t have me doing this on my own – come on, get writing, you’ll thank me later.
We’ve got 3 steps – ace of spades!
Now, when can we do them? Put a date on each of them. And be realistic. Think about what else you’ve got to do and give yourself enough time.
It doesn’t matter AT ALL if these three steps don’t take us all the way to our goal – what we’re going for here is to get flippin’ started! Once the first steps are done, we can do this again in a week’s time or whenever, for the next steps.
LCB step 1: Complete the planning grids for weeks 2-8. (90 minutes) – Monday evening
LCB step 2: Write the 5 minute introduction video script. (90 minutes) – Wednesday evening
LCB step 3: Write the 5 minute meditation script for week 1. (90 minutes) – Friday evening
My step 1: ……………… How many minutes?……. When? …….
My step 2: ………………How many minutes?……. When? …….
My step 3: ……………… How many minutes?……. When? ……….
Now put it in your diary! Or calendar, or on a note stuck to to your fridge or computer, or in your wallet/purse.
Next we’ll deal with an unexpected spanner thrown into the works
This could be the car breaking down, we have to stay late at work, we don’t feel well, an opportunity to do something WAY more fun presents itself, even a family member or friend criticising our efforts can have us demotivated… and this stops us from taking one of our steps on the day we’d planned.
Well, we’ve not to just chuck the towel in! We’ve got two things we need to do here:
- We’ve to remember why we’re doing it, and
- We’ve to get back on the horse.
Take out your bit of paper from the last blog post and read those three statements you wrote down about when you’ve got this thing on the road. This one, remember it?
a. My life will be better because……
b. Someone else’s life will be better because…….
c. When I’ve got this thing done (or started) I will feel……
This is why you’re doing it and your reasons will spur you on to continue putting in the effort.
And now you need to reschedule the step that got missed because of this unexpected spanner. Don’t be, “Ah well never mind, eh?” Get it back in the diary!
If it was originally in the diary for Monday but then that didn’t happen, put it in for Tuesday or your next available slot.
Now, if you find something keeps getting put back in your diary, it’s not an “unexpected spanner in the works” that’s the problem, which brings me to my third point:
the last time we did something similar it went wrong / we gave up / the result wasn’t encouraging.
We need to dig deep for this one. Think back to the last time you tried to achieve a similar goal to this one, and it didn’t go how you’d hoped.
For me it was when I put in months’ worth of effort for my Agony Aunt website ChatToCherry.com and then I got barely any customers. That was incredibly discouraging! All that work and for what?! Yes, I helped a few people but nowhere near on the scale I had hoped.
What was your “thing” that you tried before and it didn’t work out, which could be discouraging you from your present goal?
Think now. What was it?
What happened? You put in a lot of effort and didn’t get the results. Or you got the results and gave up. What was the point at which you gave up? What happened there?
For me, I spent a small bit of money on Facebook marketing that didn’t deliver any results – and so I gave up because I wasn’t experienced enough with marketing to know how and where to spend my marketing budget.
It scared me to think I’d squander my hard-earned savings on some pointless marketing activities and so I stopped what I was doing because the effort wasn’t delivering the desired results.
How about you?
And what can we learn from this, about ourselves, and our efforts?
I knew I had a great service – people said so (sometimes without me bullying them into it) – and I learned that I needed to know more about how to market it. I needn’t have just given up, I could have just learned more about marketing and got some support from someone more experienced.
Ah-ha! So that’s what I need to do THIS time! Get some marketing support from an expert so that I don’t feel in the back of my mind that all this effort will be a waste of time!
How about you? What can you learn from your past efforts? And what will you do differently this time?
- Broken the bigger goal down into the first three little tangible steps, and put them in the diary
- Learnt to reschedule a step when something gets in the way
- Looked at what went wrong last time we tried something similar, and learned a valuable lesson from it.
Now there’s a FOURTH aspect to procrastination and excuses that I haven’t covered in this post. No amount of visualizing the benefits or writing it in the diary is going to make you stick at a goal that deep down you don’t really want!
It’s all well and good striving to get somewhere but if it’s not where you truly want to be, when the going gets tough, you’ll have put a DVD on and ordered a take-away.
So, in the next post we look at formulating goals that sit in line with your own personal values so that you’re much more likely to achieve them.