Overcoming procrastination and getting in to action

Part 1 – Know where you’re going.

I don’t know about you, but there are days when I struggle to get the motivation to tackle my ever growing to do list. Life is uncertain at the moment, my world is turned upside down, and the idea of getting those things done that have been on my list forever just doesn’t have any appeal.

To help me get moving I’ve been reading a lot of books about how to prioritise, and how to overcome my procrastination. What’s interesting about all of them is that they assume you know something else, they assume that you know what your vision for the future is, and by knowing what this is then you can use it to help springboard yourself into meaningful action.

What then, if you don’t know your what your vision is, if living in these uncertain times has meant that your vision for your life hasn’t just changed but has disappeared. Where do you start with rethinking your future direction? And why is knowing your direction important, why can’t you just get stuff done and worry about your vision later?

In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Dr Stephen R Covey) habit 2 is “begin with the end in mind”. The simple message behind this habit is that only by knowing where you’re going can you understand where you are now and that you’re heading in the right direction with each step that you take. It’s so easy to get stuck in the ongoing quest to climb the ladder of success only to realise once you have climbed it that the ladder was leaning against the wrong wall. All the steps which you have taken so much effort to do have just helped you to get to the wrong place faster.

Picture of a ladder with the quote
"It's incredibly easy to get caught up in the activity trap, to work harder and harder at climbing the ladder of success only to discover it's leaning against the wrong wall"
Dr Stephen R Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Covey is far from the only one to highlight the importance of this approach. If you move away from your personal life and into your business, the first step of creating any business strategy is to have a clear vision for the future, one which you and your employees buy in to.

A vision is extremely powerful and motivating. When it is stated objectively it can fuel us with energy and endurance. It takes us to the 30,000 foot view, allowing us to see the big picture. Developing a vision helps create clarity on what we want to create in your business or lives. A vision helps us decide where we want to focus, and where we don’t want to focus. It can help us say YES and NO powerfully.

Without one, how can you set your strategic priorities, to help you focus, make decisions and move your organisation forwards?

Now we know how important it is to have a vision, it’s time to take your first step into creating one for yourself

There are different ways in which you can do this, but most imagine stepping into the future in some way and describing what it looks like.

Why not try one of these exercises to help you get started:

  • Think about the speech given at your 90th birthday party, what would you want to be said about you?
  • Write a diary entry about your ideal day – what did you do, who did you see, how did you feel?
  • Work through a guided visualisation exercise – lots of examples can be found online
  • Create a vision board showing what you want from your life

Don’t rush creating your vision, allow your subconscious time to work through the questions. Make notes as inspiration strikes. Your vision does not need to be perfect, remember that is it is better to have something rather than nothing. Your vision will evolve over time, so for now create a working vision to aid you with your current decision-making needs. Make sure you focus on what you want, what you want to move towards, not what you want to move away from.

Think about your vision using the present tense. What do I see? What do I hear? What do I have? This is especially important. If you use the future tense then it feels far from reach, in the present tense it becomes alive, it feels achievable, and your subconscious is more able to process it as a reality.

Make sure you have created your vision in a tangible way. People who vividly describe their goals in a tangible way (written or using a vision board) are anywhere from 20-40% more likely to achieve their vision. That’s a really big difference, just from writing things down, how is that even possible? Well if we consult neuroscience, we find that writing things down has a huge impact on your brain’s ability to encode the data, to transfer it to long-term memory.  Writing things down also helps to make your brain more efficient by helping you to focus on the truly important things in it. A double whammy.

Several years ago, I completed a leadership programme called “Ignite Your Spirit”. There were a number of takeaways from the programme, but the one that stuck with me was to capture your vision in a way that you can carry with you at all times. So, turn your vision into a wallet sized image and start carrying it with you. We’ll come back to that in future blogs and talk about how to use it.

Once you have the vision, you might think that the next thing to do is to start thinking about the things that you need to do in order to get you there and start moving forwards. Well, you’re partially right. The next thing we’re going to do is to think about all the things that will stop you getting there.

By understanding what roadblocks will stop you along the way, you can determine what you need to put in place that will help you to overcome these blocks. These will be your goals, the things that you need to work on. That means that when those roadblocks inevitably happen, you will already have the skills and strategies in place in order to keep on going with your plan, they won’t derail you or your progress, instead you will take them in your stride and keep on moving towards your vision.

A picture of a road leading you to your vision, swerving around the roadblocks that you will come across along the way

This is where coaching can help. Coaches are trained to help you understand the reality of getting to your vision, helping you to break that vision down in to manageable goals along the way.

There are specific tools that your coach can use to help you, from the wheel of life, to values elicitation and the grow model. Why not reach out for a chat to talk about coaching might work for you?

If you’re interested in creating a new organisational vision in collaboration with your team, then have a look at how strategic planning could work for you:

In the next blog we’ll start thinking about how you can use your vision to help you prioritise all the things on your to do list, and then we’ll move on to getting you in to action.

Ladder Plain Clip Art – Ladder Clipart Transparent Background

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