Consider this famous quote below:
“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers. It is in the whole process of meeting and solving problems that life has meaning. Problems are the cutting edge that distinguishes between success and failure. Problems call forth our courage and our wisdom; indeed, they create our courage and our wisdom. It is only because of problems that we grow mentally and spiritually. It is through the pain of confronting and resolving problems that we learn” M. Scott Peck.
I once read something that has stuck with me for many years. It went something like “there is no success or failure in life… just success and learning opportunities”. How true this is but how difficult for most people to put into operation. Facing life’s problems head-on is usually a step too far. Whether it be financial, relationship or personal, it is usually easier to take the line of least resistance and procrastinate or even run away, hoping the problem is heading in the other direction. Sometimes problems have been caused by other people, and so there is a resistance to having to sort out something that someone else has caused. This is an understandable reaction, yet for progress to be made, one has to dig deep and confront the issues, regardless of whether they have been caused by self or others. At other times, there is a burying of the head in the sand, and this solves nothing. In fact, this approach just prolongs the agony of the problem and adds more problems on top of the original issue. It is important to remember that when we avoid our problems, they don’t go away, and also bear in mind that a problem we are avoiding may impact hugely on another person’s life (knock on effect).
We convince ourselves that opening that letter or dealing with the problem in our relationship can wait until tomorrow or next week or next month. We bury our heads in the sand waiting for the right time, knowing that the right time is usually right now. We beat ourselves up because of it knowing that the only person who can change it is us. We become depressed and lose our self-esteem. I am reminded of the story told by Scott Peck in his self-help book “The Road less Travelled” where he asked a stressed financial analyst how she likes to eat cake. ” the frosting first”, she replied. He suggested she eat the cake first and then the frosting. This statement just about sums up the pleasure principle. We put off seemingly uncomfortable or difficult things and replace them with easier more pleasurable activities or nothing at all. However, the spectre of the problem is always there in the background waiting to pounce at the right moment, dragging our urgent attention to it at the same time.
There are, however, simple methods available to avoid this crippling condition ruining your personal and professional life and ruin it it will, if it is allowed to become a habit. Do you want that mad rush that comes with having to get things done at the last moment? This can help:
Realise and accept you have a problem and only you can set the solution in motion. Others may be able to help but you need to initiate. To not do this is delusion and denying your reality.
Stop talking your problem. Talk the solution. Talking about your problems all the time is to pile misery upon misery. Be proactive and preventive. Look forward and take measures to ease problems before they overwhelm.
Make a list of those problems causing the most trouble. Prioritise the list, A, B, C and so forth. DO NOT list blue Mondays, rainy days and heavy traffic. Those are not problems. That is called living life. You couldn’t change them anyway. Deal with A and leave the rest of the list alone. When A is solved B becomes A and so forth. Move through the list with determination. Remember that living life will always be mixed with difficulty. Change what you can change. Others will take care of what you cannot change. That is their assignment, not yours.
The 80/20 rule or Pareto Principle. 20% of activities on your to-do list will produce 80% of your most desired results. What do you want to accomplish? What are those activities you must do? The ability to determine those tasks and then complete them on time can have more impact on achieving your goals than anything else.
Write down those tasks and specific time frames for when you will work on them. Write them in a place where you will constantly see them to be reminded. This way you’re constantly reminded of what you are to do and when. You will get around to completing these tasks sooner rather than later because by “seeing” them all the time, you’ll want to cross them off your list. Consider erasing the tasks after completing them so you no longer have to look at them.
Plan a reward ahead of time. Make sure you give yourself some type of reward when finished. It can be as small as penciling in time to work on the things you enjoy.
Do the thing you like least first. Research points to the fact that the longer you put off something, the harder it is to get motivated. It becomes easier to experience procrastination.
Break it down into small steps. To avoid overwhelm, avoid saying, “I’m going to sit down and work on this for the next six hours straight.” Instead say to yourself, “I’m going to work on this first thing in the morning from 8:00 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. If then I want to stop I can. ” When you tell yourself you will “only” work on something for X number of minutes, it makes it more palatable. And what usually happens is you get on a roll and want to keep going.
The power of focus. You can be putting tremendous energy into something, but is it the right thing? Many people expend huge amounts of energy and creativity trying not to do something. Refine your focus.
Consequences. Take into account what will happen if you don’t complete those 20% of tasks that produce 80% of your desired results. There is often pain in thinking about a task we don’t want to do, but by procrastinating the pain only increases. You’re not having fun on the enjoyable tasks because in the back of your mind you’re thinking about what you must do and “should” do. Keep in mind that everything you procrastinate today only compounds tomorrow’s pressure. To be motivated toward your goal and achieve success requires you to have strong “motive” and move. Decide what you want. What tasks must be done in order for you to accomplish your goals, dreams and aspirations?