We all have those days in which we’d rather sleep in than follow our morning routine, watch Games of Thrones instead of reading a book — or watch funny cat videos on YouTube while we’re supposed to be working on our goals.
While having a day like this every once in a while isn’t that big of a deal, it becomes problematic when you find yourself getting lost more and more in this type of behaviour.
When you find yourself procrastinating often, you’re severely hindering your productivity, success and personal development. And with ‘quick fix’ dopamine-producing distractions around every corner, it’s easier than ever to fall into this ‘lazy’ behaviour that gets in the way of achieving your bigger goals.
That’s why, in this article, I’ll share 5 principles that will help you stop procrastinating so that you can completely crush it instead.
#1: Set Clear Goals & Have A Strong ‘Why’
One of the main reasons why people put off their work so much is not necessarily because they’re actually lazy, but because they lack clarity on what goals they actually want to achieve in life.
This lack of having a clear direction and a clear purpose is what leads to the lack of ‘fire’ or drive in their day-to-day lives — and what leads to laziness and procrastination.
Not having clear goals can make you feel a little dull and push you into a rut quite quickly. On the other hand, having clear goals for what you want to achieve this year (and beyond) and a strong enough ‘why’ is what sparks that daily drive and motivation to act.
When you know exactly where you want to go — and why you want to go there — suddenly it becomes more appealing to do the work and much less appealing to put it off.
Therefore, if you struggle with doing the work and put it off more than you’d like, set anywhere from one to three goals that you want to achieve within the next 3–5 years.
Make these goals highly specific and make sure they’re truly based on what you want — not what society has conditioned you to think what you should want. This way, it causes the biggest spark of motivation and inspiration on a regular basis, which helps enormously with overcoming procrastination and ‘laziness’.
Furthermore, break these long-term goals down into smaller checkpoints (such as yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly and even daily goals) so that you’re applying pressure on yourself to take immediate action and make consistent progress.
#2: Schedule and Planning
I always say that ‘whatever gets scheduled, gets done’. Most people are ‘lazy’ simply because they don’t make any appointments or commitments with themselves. In other words, they think they’ll work on their goals tomorrow or somewhere this week, but when that time arrives they still procrastinate and watch Netflix series instead.
However, when you schedule your work time in advance, you protect your time for it. You avoid that other appointments or other people’s agendas interfere with the time that your goals and ambitions require.
More importantly, you make a true appointment with yourself in advance. By scheduling your work every single day and every single week, you make a promise to yourself to work on your goals in advance. By protecting your time, you make a commitment to yourself that you’re going to do the work. This is a much better strategy than merely ‘hoping’ you’ll work on your goals.
Furthermore, I like to plan my workday the night before. I take my journal and my phone and create my ABCDE list (my to-do list on steroids) for the following day. This way, I know exactly what needs to get done the next day and I strengthen the commitment with myself to actually do the work instead of putting it off again and again.
#3: Change Your ‘State’
When we feel more inclined to procrastinate than doing the work, we are in a completely different state of mind compared to when we feel highly motivated to work and don’t even consider procrastinating.
In fact, practically every decision we make on a moment-to-moment basis is heavily influenced by the state of mind we’re in. For example, you might be a very kind person, but in an angry or frustrated state you may say or do things that you later regret.
Maybe you are passionate about health and fitness, but go on a binge-eating frenzy when you are in an emotional state of mind.
Maybe you are an ambitious person, but when you’re in a ‘lousy’ state of mind you rather play video games than work on your business, side-hustle or personal goals.
All in all, we can be certain ‘kinds’ of people with deep values and beliefs, but still act against our better judgement simply because of the state of mind we’re in.
Therefore, knowing how to change your state of mind at your command is critical when you want to overcome ‘laziness’ and start crushing it instead. Just like a boxer who gets into the right state of mind before a fight, we need to get into ‘state’ to be able to work hard on our goals.
Personally, whenever I feel myself getting into a ‘lousy’ state of mind (where I feel like sleeping in, procrastinating, eating junk food etc.) I apply certain ‘state change hacks’ that get me from a lousy state of mind to a peak state of mind almost in an instant.
Some of these hacks are:
- Moving with my body (jumping, running etc.) and doing light exercise (such as a 25 kettlebell swings)
- Reading my goals and my ‘why’
- Doing affirmations
- Doing a visualization exercise
- Watching a motivational video
- Taking a cold shower
- Read 5 or 10 minutes in a super inspiring book
- Do one or two rounds of Wim Hof breathing
Usually, I pick a few of these hacks and combine them so that within 5–15 minutes I get myself out of that lousy state of mind and quickly into a peak state of mind. From this mental place, I find it much easier to take massive action and I don’t even feel like procrastinating or acting lazy.
#4: Long Term vs Short-Term Vision
Whenever we’re procrastinating and acting lazy, we place more value on the short-term benefits of not taking action than the long-term benefits we could gain from taking action. To be more precise, we prefer avoiding the short-term pain of taking action much more than the potential long-term pleasure we could gain from achieving a goal.
This is because our ‘present self’ (the one responsible for doing the work) is not aligned with the ‘future self’ (the one responsible for dreaming, setting goals and visualizing a better future) in most cases. Where our future self wants to work hard in order to improve our finances, career, relationships or health, our present self usually wants to relax, avoid uncomfortable situations and take the easy way out.
One way to align these ‘two selves’ is by realizing that we need to become long-term oriented if we want to become more successful and avoid bigger problems in the future. We need to start linking more pain to not taking action than to taking action by fully realizing the long-term consequences of our laziness and procrastinative behaviour.
The thing is, if we continue putting off the work because we keep on falling prey to short-term pleasures, dopamine fixes and rewards, we will fail to make our biggest goals, dreams and ambitions a reality. Our future self will miss out and fail to realize its full potential because our present self prefers instant gratifications over delayed gratification.
If we can feel the future pain right now and become fully aware of the negative future consequences of procrastination, we link more pain to inaction than to taking action. This heightened emotional state is key to fuel us with the motivation necessary to stop procrastinating and start crushing it
#5: Realize This Life Is All We Get
Remember, we only have one shot. There is no practice run…
It’s all happening right now and time seems to be going faster and faster. Before you know it, your run is over.
Why waste your valuable time on things that don’t matter when you can do things that change your life forever, impacts others and contributes to a better life for all.
Don’t die with regrets.
Don’t die with unrealized dreams.
Don’t die while not having truly lived.
Now Do It
If you find yourself engaged in lazy behaviour more than you’d like, it’s time to take matters into your own hands. Start by applying some of the principles shared in this article – and if you truly want to get rid of procrastination, check out the Stop Procrastinating training course.
Remember, the only way to change is to take action — not just by knowing about it.
To Your Personal Growth,
Founder Personal Growth Lab