Procrastination can be one of the most devastating of all problems you will ever face. I often call procrastination practicing for death. Why? Because when you procrastinate, there is life that you know is waiting to be lived, but part of you doesn’t seem to want to live that life. Procrastination commonly happens because part of you believes that you don’t deserve the rewards of the actions you need to be taking. Procrastination often is the most seemingly benign form of self sabotage you will experience.
Until 1987, I was a procrastinator of the greatest magnitude. I had written two books but never got them published. I didn’t even send the final manuscripts to a publisher. I just set them aside and worked on other projects. I was working very hard. I invested hundreds and hundreds of hours in researching and writing these books, then I was self sabotaging my entire life by failing to get the books to print and into the hands of a public audience that could really use the information I had written about. Why?
I was sabotaging my work! There was a part of me that believed that it wasn’t good to earn a lot of money. I had lived much of my life either in near poverty as a child or deeply in debt as a young adult. I began to identify with being poor because I was…poor. It was part of who I was as a person. As I grew up, there was a part of me that felt I didn’t deserve more than anyone else in my family had. I would work hard but then when it was obvious the work would come to fruition I would get lazy and stop being productive when I saw the potential for a normal or even successful life.
Once I had my own house (OK, I had a mortgage) I would just sit back and click the remote control around and around and around. I procrastinated. I sat in front of the television and started clicking the remote at channel 02. Then I’d click the up button to 03, 04, 05 and all the way up to 69 which was how many channels we had. Then the next click was 02. Then I went around the channels again and again and at age 25 I was clicking away my productive years.
I went to see a motivational speaker one day – Zig Ziglar. “You’ve got to have goals,” he said over and over. Heck I had goals and I had potential. I could see that much. Then, at some point in the program he said, seemingly to me, “you have to stop being a wandering generality and become a meaningful specific.” The key words for me were wandering and meaningful. I knew I was wandering in life and that couldn’t be what I was here on earth to do. I knew that I had so much to share (as evidenced by the written manuscripts). Then I looked at my lap which held the book, See You at the Top, that Zig wrote. I remember thinking, “you know, Zig, you WILL see me at the top!”
From that moment on, Zig’s talking faded from my conscious awareness and my possible futures started to flash before my eyes. I saw one future of being very poor. One future was remarkably mediocre. Another future was successful. I liked the successful future. There were wonderful people, a nice house, a nice car, books in print, appreciative people, and I decided, “this is what I want.”
I started to think, “what do I have to do to change?”
“I have to stop procrastinating (wandering) and I must start to get my back side in gear and not just work but FINISH projects.” I was already able to see the end from the beginning. I could already believe in myself. I was setting goals. I was writing about what I knew the most about. I was not FINISHING projects. I was not taking the necessary action steps to make it all work. I was procrastinating and I was doing it by WATCHING TV…even when there was nothing on that I enjoyed! 02, 03, 04, 05…69…17, 18, 19… I just kept clicking away!
Zig’s presentation ended. I went home with everything Zig had ever written or uttered, but the first thing I did was not read one of Zig’s books. Instead I grabbed books from the bookshelf and started to learn how to reprogram my brain so it would no longer procrastinate. I found several books that taught some techniques of hypnosis and NLP and I took the best ideas I could find and I spent the next hour and a half doing what I am going to teach you right now.
Identify the Behavior You Want to Change: Do It In Your Mind
I sat down in front of the television and held the remote control in my right hand. I then proceeded to do a hypnotic technique called the swish pattern, over and over again. Here is how it worked (and how it has worked every time I have used this powerful, life changing pattern!).
I then closed my eyes and envisioned the television in front of me. I envisioned my right hand clicking the remote control. In my mind’s eye I saw the numbers on the cable box changing from number to number…34, 35, 36, 37, 38…69, 02, 03…
Decide What Behavior You Want to Do Instead: See Yourself Rewarded
That was what I no longer wanted to experience. That was the endless loop of procrastination that I needed to stop. Now I had to figure out what behavior I wanted to do instead. What specifically did I want to do instead of clicking the remote control?
What I wanted to do was to take action by writing to publishers. I wanted to write books that would change people’s lives and I wanted to see the appreciation on the reader’s faces…and I wanted to be paid very well for the work that I would do. How could I convert all of these “wants” into one short mental video that I would enact in real life? How could I create a behavior that I would do instead of continuing the clicking?
I decided that my new behavior would be to get up and go to the computer and take action every time I saw the number 02 on the remote control. That would be my “stimulus” or “trigger” for the new behavior. What about the reward for changing the behavior?
My new video must go something like this: I see the TV. I see the 68, 69, 02 and as soon as the 02 clicks on, I immediately get up and go to the computer. I start typing and I shortly see the rewards that I really wanted, coming out of the computer. I hear all the words people say as they come out of the computer. I see the money. I feel the sense of self satisfaction. It all feels perfect. That’s the new video.
Now we have to install the new behavior. I have two very specific videos that I have to splice together in a way that will create lasting change. That means as soon as I see 02, I have to get to work on something productive that I have been procrastinating about.
The Splice and The Swish
Now, I see the new behavior in my mind. I see the cable box at 02 and the TV is on. I see myself getting up, going to the computer, starting to type and I begin to experience the rewards I want to experience. That is the new behavior. I shrink this image so that it fits into a little tiny picture in picture box in the lower right hand side of my mind’s theater. On the big screen is the movie of the procrastinating behavior. I see myself watching the movie of procrastination. I see the numbers 66, 67, 68, 69, 02 and then SWISH!!
Immediately the tiny box in the lower right hand corner EXPLODES onto the big screen. The old movie that was running has shrunk down to the picture in picture box at the bottom of the screen. You can’t even see what’s going on in that tiny picture. But you do see yourself going to the new behavior. In my case, I saw myself going to the computer and starting to do work that would be productive and I saw myself receiving the rewards I wanted.
Then I let the picture in the picture, the old behavior enlarge itself onto the screen again. I saw the old behavior. Laying on the couch. 66, 67, 68, 69, 02 and SWISH. Immediately the tiny box in the lower right hand corner EXPLODES onto the big screen. The old movie that was running has shrunk down to the picture in picture box at the bottom of the screen. You can’t even see what’s going on in that tiny picture. But you do see yourself going to the new behavior.
I did this 40 times in one hour. By the end of the hour I now had a new response to seeing the 02 on the cable box. Up until this day, I had always just kept clicking. But now, I literally found myself getting up off of the couch and walking to the computer, beginning the projects that would richly reward me.
For me, I never had to reinforce this new behavior. I simply did it. Just like Pavlov’s dogs, when the stimulus arrived, I responded! One hour of self hypnosis changed my life. I haven’t procrastinated in over 10 years. When something needs to be done that I deem productive, I simply get up and do it.
Every time I see that television on, you can bet the computer is still on and yet another book is in the works.
Where can you find more information like this?
Science of Influence Master’s Home Study Course (Volumes 1-12)
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