Over the last month I’ve written a lot about getting past putting the important things off.
I know so many people who know they will never earn more for their family than they are today but just can’t pull the trigger at either :
a) starting an easy home style business that would add significantly to their bottom line or
b) finishing projects that they’ve started.
I can think of at least 30 people who have started books, put time into starting a website but they set it aside, “wondering if it would work.”
It does NOT work.
IT never does.
You and only you decide if IT will work.
The car does not go to a gas station by itself and fill up with gasoline. But EVERYTIME YOU go to the gas station you fill the car up with gasoline.
There is no “wondering” if IT will work.
Geezuz, if Kevin Hogan, who has no grammatical skills whatsoever (I know this is true because reviewers at amazon remind me of this all the time) can write 15 books and earn a ridiculous amount of money, ANYONE can.
I don’t know what a gerund is. I don’t know what dangling participles do. I don’t know what a direct object is. I know you aren’t supposed to end sentences with the word “is,” like the last sentence….or use lots of….pause’s…
But I never wonder if “IT” (the book) will sell.
IT never does.
Either I choose it to happen or I don’t.
And that’s just one glaring example.
Our internet web site shouldn’t make the kind of money “it” generates. I can tell you a dozen reasons why, but the fact is, that IT doesn’t generate money. I decide if it will and I put my attention there and THEN it does.
There is no question about the result.
Most people who put things off, don’t get things done once they start them…most people are pretty honest with themselves and recognize it. But it can really be helpful to quantify a future threatening problem like procrastination. That’s the purpose of this questionnaire you get to take today.
A questionnaire is not a scientific instrument. (I wish…) What this questionnaire does is allow you to take a snapshot of yourself as far as putting important things off in life.
There is no personality disorder or disease that goes along with a high or low score. This simply helps you find where you can trigger more positive behaviors…and like all good questionnaires, there is a self scoring tool that should be used as a guide.
If you find the guide conflicts with who you see yourself as, then start logging each day what you wanted to be doing when you made your plan for the day, and contrast it with what really happened.
If you want to cheat and get a “perfect score,” just check the right hand column all the way down. If you want to be a procrastination martyr just check all the things under “often!”
(Remember this isn’t a test. No one sees this. Honest self examination is free of charge and causes no pain you haven’t felt already.)
OK, let’s get to it.
|#||Question||Often||Sometimes||Rarely or Never|
|1||When I am working on a task, I start thinking about something else or I begin to daydream|
|2||I tend to focus on instant gratification that satisfies me rather than my goals.|
|3||When I anticipate the worst it stops me in the tracks, demotivating me.|
|4||I sell or represent a product or company that is of questionable reputation…leaving me to wonder if what I’m selling is the right thing to do. [KEY]|
|5||I find it hard to concentrate for long periods of time|
|6||I do things that I think need to be done whether they are the things that I have been asked or told to do nor not.|
|7||If I have a problem that I can’t get out of my head, it distracts me from other tasks|
|8||I put off things I really don’t feel like doing or things I think may be difficult|
|9||I waste a lot of time|
|10||I daydream about grand success, but I don’t see any progress|
|11||I act without thinking when there is a crisis or problem|
|12||I delay tasks until it is nearly too late to get them completed|
|13||I miss deadlines and fail to get things done – even if they are important to my success|
|14||I can’t get interested in anything unless it is entertaining, exciting or enjoyable|
|15||I put off tasks I don’t like until my well-being is threatened or damaged.|
|16||I make no significant progress toward my goals on most days|
|17||I find myself doing one thing when I know I should be concentrating on something else – but I can’t help myself|
|18||I am easily distracted by something I find entertaining or enjoyable.|
|19||If I don’t feel like doing something, I find an excuse not to do it.|
|20||I get anxious if I feel something is risky and I find it hard to continue with the task|
|21||I always think things will turn out badly or that I will fail and that stops me from going on.|
|22||I prefer to accomplish smaller things that give me pleasure than to work on important goals that would improve my life but take time to achieve|
|23||I become upset when I have to postpone things that give me pleasure.|
|24||Even if something isn’t that important, if is bothering me, I can’t ignore it and it distracts me from other, more important, things.|
|25||I often find it hard to stay on track.|
|26||I think of things that are not related to what I am supposed to be working on, and I suspend the task at hand to do something different.|
|27||I know I am going to get into trouble by putting off an important task, but I do it anyway.|
|28||I put off doing things I don’t feel like doing|
|29||I wait until the last minute to do even the most important things|
|30||I find it hard to do much more than start new projects or tasks, and once I get them started, I suspend them without completing them.|
|31||I think I should stop procrastinating but I repeat my mistakes without changing my behavior.|
|32||I try to focus on the task at hand but I get distracted before I know it.|
|33||I waste a lot of time|
|34||Your other personal challenge goes here….|
OK, let’s see what results you’ve discovered in a general form:
If you answered ‘yes’ or ‘sometimes’ to 1-10 of these questions, you are probably pretty average. Sometimes, you feel overwhelmed and find it hard to focus or start new tasks, even if they are important. But, most of the time you avoid procrastination. You’re attaining your goals and desired outcomes in life as long as you are indeed setting those goals and desired outcomes!
If you answered ‘yes or ‘sometimes’ to 11-20 of these questions, you have a challenge, and you should look at the areas in your life where you most often procrastinate, or the types of things you tend to put off. Get to the root of the problem and use the ideas I gave you last week to eliminate procrastination.
If you answered ‘yes’ or ‘sometimes’ to 21-34 of these questions, you are a person who really cares about yourself! You took the time to take a hard look at yourself and honestly see what is up in your life. You spend a lot of your time trying to catch up, doing things at the last minute – and not very well – and explaining your way out of jams. You should seriously consider the things you find difficult to do and determine what is holding you back. Use this information to establish a personal plan to prevent procrastination.
It’s easy to say that self sabotage is at the root of most procrastination. Maybe all procrastination. But that is so ambiguous to a lot of people, that we can break it down in a slightly different way.
Procrastination typically comes from one or more of these issues:
|Motivation||You feel this task is irrelevant and has little or no meaning for you|
|Knowledge||You feel you do not have the training, skills, or knowledge to accomplish this task, or you are uncertain about taking on something you have not done before.|
|Standards||You are afraid you will not perform the task well, or, perfectly|
|Obligations||You may not be able to fulfill all of your obligations because you have so much to do|
|Assumptions||You believe that if you avoid or ignore the task it will evaporate, or perhaps you assume that it will take less time or effort to accomplish|
|Fear||You are worried about how others may evaluate or judge you…or you may judge yourself because you sell something you know is not a great value to your customer’s|
|Avoidance||You just hate doing this particular task.|
Think about the things that may be at the root of each of these issues. How many of these apply to you?
- Self Esteem – You struggle with feelings of incompetence, and poor self worth.
Maybe you insist on an extremely high standard of performance though you feel you are incapable of achieving this performance. Or maybe the project is just outside your comfort zone and you don’t believe there is any reason to even try and take it on.
(The fact is, there is very little reason most projects, tasks, jobs, careers ..won’t “work” for you…that exist outside of you. There are exceptions, but not many!)
- Pressure – You use procrastination to deal with the pressure of daily life and all the competing obligations and tasks.
You know that if you get this task done, someone will just give you another task to perform. (You get paid the same no matter what!)
- Control – You use procrastination as a means of control.
You don’t like to be pushed around and you feel that you should decide what to do and when to perform the task.
- Justification – You feel that others do not understand how busy you are and how complicated your life is.
Perhaps it isn’t so much that you procrastinate – it’s just that others don’t understand your problems.
Maybe, you often feel like a victim and you are frustrated that others don’t see how unfair it is.
The more often you put important things off…things that could give you a great future, the more you reinforce the behavior, and the harder it is to interrupt the cycle.
For every task on which you procrastinate, you reinforce:
|Inaction ….. instead of… Action|
|Avoidance… instead of… Proactive Participation|
|Current State instead of Improved Life and Meaning|
|Fear.. instead of… Confidence|
By doing some self analysis as to your own style and “reasons” (conscious or unconscious) for procrastination, you can choose the techniques you feel will work best in your situation.
Remember, the chart I showed you for the possible issues at the heart of your procrastination?
Let’s start by looking at some of the ways you can address these issues:
|Motivation||You feel this task is irrelevant and has no meaning for you||Find a way to make this task more interesting, delegate it to someone else if that is appropriate OR negotiate a reward or result with the person who assigned the task. OR determine what the GREATER MEANING IS.|
|Knowledge||You feel you do not have the training or knowledge to accomplish this task, or you are uncertain about taking on something you have not done before||Be sure you fully understand the outcome everyone expects. If you need help, get support, advice, guidance or training from someone who is expert or better educated in this area. Realize that most things you think require a lot of knowledge are VERY DO-ABLE by very AVERAGE people after reading the “basic instructions” or manual. Do NOT be intimidated by things you “don’t understand.”|
|Standards||You are afraid you will not perform the task well or perfectly||Analyze the importance of the task and determine how critical it is to strive for perfection. If you were to do a GOOD job instead of a perfect job, would it pay off better than not doing it at all? Consider what you would expect of a friend, or co-worker if they were performing the task. Is perfection necessary, or even possible?|
|Obligations||You may not be able to fulfill all of your obligations because you have so much to do||Try to renegotiate deadlines or schedules so that you can prioritize your tasks and get everything done on time…especially things that will make your FUTURE bright.|
|Assumptions||You believe that if you avoid or ignore the task it will evaporate. You assume that it will take less time or effort to accomplish. Maybe it will go away.||Accept that the task must be accomplished, just like going to the grocery store for food for your family, and establish a written plan to ‘chunk’ the items into smaller pieces with milestones to progress toward the end goal. Put reasonable times to each of these milestones and then revaluate the timeline for completing the entire task.|
|Fear||You are worried about how others may evaluate or judge you||Consider the true impact on your life. Will this project really be so important that others will scrutinize the outcome and are they really likely to care all that much about the results and judge you harshly? And if it’s about your fear of selling something that is a bad value, DO something about that.|
|Avoidance||You just hate doing this particular task||Can you find a way to make the task enjoyable or give yourself a reward when you have completed the task to give you something to which you can look forward? Is there MEANING in what you are doing beyond the fun-ness of the project? Do the task before anything else and just get it out of the way. You’ll be glad you did!|
Circle the issues you feel apply to you and use them later for your Personal Plan to Prevent Procrastination!
Next, go back and look at the items you checked as the ‘root’ of your issues:
- Self Esteem – If you constantly downplay your skills and knowledge and doubt your own ability you will feel like your success (when it happens) is just a factor of luck.
You may find it hard to accept a compliment on your work because you really don’t feel you deserve it.
You may demand perfection from yourself even though, in your heart, you feel you can never achieve that perfection.
You may feel you don’t have the knowledge, skills, or talent’s do even to a mediocre job.
You need to step back and put things in perspective and realize that not everything is critical enough to strive for perfection and that perfection is impossible, in any case.
Do the best you can but get the project done. Start it with plenty of time to allow yourself the focus and dedication to do a job of which you will be proud.
When someone compliments you, practice saying ‘thank you’ and moving on.
Don’t downplay your effort or display false modesty.
Just accept the praise!
“Thank you, I really appreciate that. It makes my day.”
It may be hard at first, but it will get easier as you practice.
- Pressure – If you find it hard to get a project or task started because you are swamped with other things, you may feel that nothing will get you out of this hole.
You tell yourself that even if you work really hard to accomplish this task, the only thing that will come of it is MORE WORK. <> So why bother?
To relieve the pressure, you need to have a plan for how to prioritize the items you must accomplish and what the steps are to see each task through to completion.
Start by looking at what you have to do and be honest about the criticality (is that a word?) of each task. How fricking important is it?! ,P> Negotiate new deadlines if you need more time to get certain things done, or if something else must be completed before you can start on a particular project.
If YOU are setting the deadlines, you can determine how critical each item is by asking yourself what will happen if you don’t get a particular task done by a certain date?
Will some catastrophe befall you or someone else?
Will you lose your job or a promotion? Will you fail a class or disappoint someone you have promised to help?
Once you have your priorities in order and all your deadlines on the calendar, start to detail the tasks that you will need to accomplish to finish each ‘phase’ of the task.
In this way, you can set smaller milestones and shorter term goals, and you will KNOW you are accomplishing something along the way and feel better about the fact that you are making progress.
Pressure comes from feeling like you have TOO MUCH TO DO and you are making NO PROGRESS to complete ANY OF THE THINGS on your list!
- Control – If you are easily overwhelmed, or hate feeling controlled, you may feel that your situation is unfair.
Instead of getting frustrated and putting off the task to show others that you will not be pushed around, you should consider the things in your life over which you DO have control.
One of those things is the ability to give yourself a reward.
Plan a reward to enjoy yourself after you have completed the project and remind yourself that you DO have control over this project.
It is YOUR choice whether to do this task and you have chosen TO DO IT!
- Justification – If you are unhappy with someone or something, you may not try as hard as you would otherwise.
Get out of this mindset by telling yourself that it is YOU that is upset (not anyone else) and that your feelings of revenge or anger will only come back to hurt you in the long run.
I can tell you that many times I have done things which people I was upset with would benefit from. It stings at the time, but later you see yourself as someone who can “walk into the fire” and GET IT DONE under ANY circumstance.
Don’t let the person, or situation, that has you upset, get in the way of your goals or success. And don’t wait until you “feel better.” You may NEVER feel better about the person or whatever. Just get it done and do it now!
Do you remember what kind of conscience you have? Was it the Carefree voice, the Critical voice or the Chaotic voice?
I’ve identified 12 of the life patterns which cause us to trip up – and make the same mistakes again and again. To discover which of the 12 patterns you have been the victim of and how to eliminate self-sabotage in your life (or those of your clients) you can pick up the CD program and workbook, LIFESTORMS: The Paradox of Overcoming Self Sabotage to Achieve Love, Power, Money and Happiness.
Lifestorms: 12 Obstacles to Achievement: The Paradox of Overcoming Self Sabotage to Achieve Love, Power, Money and Happiness.
Discover why life often brings you exactly what you don’t want…and how self sabotage can hide around every corner. Some people have guessed at the bizarre nature of self sabotage. Guess no more. Self sabotage is very real in everyone’s life. It is completely devastating and 100% resolvable!
- Do you ever know you should start on a project but don’t?
- Do you have projects that you have started but never finished?
- Do you ever say the one wrong thing at the wrong time?
- Have you ever had things going well in life only to have everything blow up in a day?
- Have you tried to be so careful not to make a mistake that you were shocked when you made a truly costly one?
- Have you ever promised yourself to stay out of trouble in some way only to find yourself in the same trouble or worse again?
Now you can discover your own life patterns so you can eliminate unconscious self sabotage immediately. This program will break the heavy chains that hold you from your dreams and your goals.
This program is the first program ever made public that shows you how to identify specific self sabotaging behaviors and negative life patterns. Better? You can ultimately erase those life patterns and rewrite new “schemas” into your brain that will allow you to meet your goals and experience fulfilling relationships.
Here is what you will learn:
- How to identify which of the 12 negative life patterns you live.
- How to find the triggers of the lifestorms that you just can’t believe you experience.
- How to change the self sabotage into success, happiness or something productive.
- How to remove almost all obstacles between you and your goals.
- How to understand those around you so you don’t push their buttons.
- How to predict your behavior and that of others.
- How to actually achieve your goals so they are more than just a dream.
No one anywhere has ever put such a program on CD. There is not one person anywhere who can’t utilize every minute of this insightful information. These three CD’s are packed with the most powerful tools for getting past life’s roadblocks and personal sabotage ever imagined. Anyone can utilize this information and I personally guarantee that if you follow the instructions you will not experience self sabotaging behavior anymore. Your goals become reality at speeds faster than you ever imagined.