Is procrastination is stopping you from moving forward in your career and life? Then let Andrew’s story inspire you to reclaim your joy and focus. While searching for a fulfilling career, most people are still working in a job that is not aligned with their strengths and values and doesn’t feed their soul. Andrew (not his real name), who is exactly in this situation, came to his coaching call wanting to learn how to stop procrastinating. Even though his goal is to eventually leave his current job, he wants to perform at a higher level to grow his confidence and feel better about his current work and himself.
Andrew is the type of person who gets energy from interacting with other people. His extroverted nature does not receive a lot of nourishment in his current career of computer programming, hence his desire to find a more fulfilling career path. Andrew spends long hours in his cubicle behind a computer screen writing scripts and coding data. One of his challenges is staying focused on the task at hand. He easily gets distracted and finds himself browsing the Internet. Learning how to stay focused and how to stop procrastinating was his goal for this coaching session.
To Andrew’s surprise, I suggested that we explore the things that bring him joy. He told me about his past joy of singing in a choir and how energized he feels socializing with people. He shared that he loves going to parties and that phone calls and coffee dates give him a lot of energy. As he was talking about these interactions his voice changed and I could feel his energy shifting.
I asked whether his Internet searches might be fuelled by his innate desire to connect with others. Andrew had not thought about it that way, but as I posed the question, he agreed that this may be the reason for his frequent Internet explorations.
When I asked him to compare the joy he gets from browsing the Internet to the joy he gets from singing in a choir or going to a party, Andrew just laughed. “It’s a sad substitute for what I really long for,” he exclaimed.
Andrew realized that his lack of focus wasn’t the real problem but rather that some of his social needs weren’t met at work. He committed to reach out for some true human interaction every time he feels the urge to browse the Internet. His distraction has become a signal for him to recharge his social tank. Sometimes he calls a friend or a relative, sometimes he walks over to the water cooler to chat with a colleague. Once he does, he gets back to work with renewed energy and focus.
How to Stop Procrastinating Step 1: Notice Your Procrastination Habits
Take a moment now to notice your own procrastination habits. What are the activities that draw you in without really filling you up? What are things you do that you that leave you feeling disappointed? Awareness and acknowledgement is the first step towards creating positive change. So, take a moment to write down your procrastination habits.
How to Stop Procrastinating Step 2: Get CLEAR on What You Really Want
Now consider that the procrastination habits you have developed are mere substitute for the things you truly long to do. If that is the case, what might be the real things that you are longing for? Most likely these are things that bring you joy and energize you. Maybe you haven’t experienced real joy in a long time. If that is the case, sit up straight, take a deep breath and simply ask the question “What brings me joy?” Then listen up and take some notes. As the poet Mary Oliver writes, “You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.”
There may be some real practical reasons as to why you haven’t engaged in these joyful activities. Andrew, for example, was too busy with his computer programming job to socialize, or re-join a choir. However, calling a friend for a quick chat or talking with a colleague at the water cooler where practical ways for him to bring little sparks of joy back into his work day.
How to Stop Procrastinating Step 3: Brainstorm Possibilities
What small step could you take towards making the real things you long for part of your every day life and work? Brainstorm possibilities and write them down. You may want to ask a trusted friend or your coach to brainstorm with you. Look at your list of ideas and select one or two that you feel most drawn to, the ones that give you a boost even as you contemplate them.
How to Stop Procrastinating Step 4: Commit to Inspired Action
Habits are activities that we engage in without consciously making a decision. Once set up the habit repeats itself automatically whenever the trigger is provided. In Andrew’s case the trigger was a feeling of distraction with the task at hand, which led him to develop the habit of browsing the Internet. Once he became aware of the trigger, he used it as a signal to initiate the new energizing habit, which was to make a phone call or seek out real live conversation with a colleague. Once recharged he returned to his screen with renewed energy and focus.
What’s the trigger that starts your procrastination habit? What are you noticing just before you begin procrastinating? Are you feeling tired, bored, frustrated? Becoming aware of your trigger makes it easy to use it as a signal to kick-start for your new energizing habit. Commit to acting on the ideas you identified earlier, each time you receive this signal.
How to Stop Procrastinating Step 5: Set Yourself Up for Success
When initiating a new habit, make it easy for yourself to choose the new way. Andrew blocked the Internet on his computer with a password, making it more difficult for him to browse unconsciously, he also put a photo of his best friend on his desk as a reminder to make a phone call.
The answer to the question ‘How to stop procrastinating?’ is to make it more difficult for yourself to engage in the procrastination habit and easier to engage in your new energizing habit.
To set yourself up for success and put a barrier in place to prevent the automatic procrastination pattern, also put a friendly reminder in place to help you choose the energizing activity instead.
Once you create recharging habits that spark a feeling of joy in you, they will support you on your journey to finding the career that truly feeds your soul. For additional support on this courageous adventure, take one more powerful step NOW and request your free career clarity consultation.
Julia James is a certified life coach and award-winning author of the book, The Mini-Retreat Solution. With over ten years experience coaching people through positive career transformations, Julia is passionate about helping people connect with their true calling.