You have big ideas, big plans, big goals! But, first you have to check your email. Hey, your daughter needs help with her homework. The lawn isn’t going to mow itself, you know. My desk is so disorganized, I won’t be able to get anything done until I fix that. Time to update my LinkedIn profile.
Why do we procrastinate from the things we know will make our lives so much better? Why is it so hard to get started on something we really want to do? What can we do about it?
The first thing to do is make sure this really is something you want to do. Are you procrastinating because this idea/plan/project/goal doesn’t line up with your values? Is it really your Passionate Purpose?
If you know this really is what you want, then why haven’t you started?
Research shows our minds tend to focus on all the difficulties and complexities of a project or task before we start to do it. So, we tend to avoid starting big projects.
Yesterday, my youngest daughter was a perfect example of this. She was having a self-pity party over all the homework, projects, and studying for finals she had to do. She went on for several minutes and even began to cry.
We then acknowledged she had a lot of work to do, but that getting started is the hardest part. We then organized her work, decided what to do when, and came up with a manageable plan. Then we decided she would work on her first project for 15 minutes and take a break. The idea was to just get started, then she would see it wasn’t as hard as she thought.
It worked great! She ended up working much longer on it and didn’t even realize she had gone past her 15 minutes. It dawned on her that it wasn’t as hard as she thought and that she was getting a lot done.
Another great tool to get things started is to use the Zeigarnik effect to your advantage. The Zeigarnik effect is the tendency to remember projects/tasks/goals that you haven’t completed. In fact, research shows your mind keeps coming back to uncompleted tasks. So, once you get started on what you really want to do, your mind has a tendency to keep coming back to it until you complete it.
Isn’t that great? It’s almost like someone designed us to get important things done. Hmm….
I’m using this a lot right now. As I’m ramping up my professional and personal development business I often feel overwhelmed. I have big ideas for my speaking and coaching. I’m working on creating online courses for “Business On Purpose” and “Life On Purpose.” I’m writing my second book. I’m starting to play gigs again with my acoustic guitar.
Each of these ideas will take a lot of work. Many of them will require me to do things I’m not quite sure how to do yet. So, I sometimes find myself doing busywork instead of getting started.
But, once I start, I get on a roll.
I’ve found the 15 minute trick I used with my daughter works with me as well. Just do it for 15 minutes. I can do anything for 15 minutes. Then I tend to keep going.
Another great technique is to break down the task into smaller bites and just do one bite. Your little successes will lead to big ones.
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
–Martin Luther King, Jr.
You don’t need to know how to do it all before you start. Get started and you’ll learn what you need as you go.