If there is a crime we are all guilty of, that’s procrastination. Is it really a crime though?
Procrastination means waiting till the last minute to get something done. You may have every good intention to start working on a project ahead of time, but you never do. Every time you think about it you tell yourself “I should start working on it” and every time you find a million other things to distract yourself with. And the more times goes by the more nervous you get.
But what’s important is this: eventually, things get done.
It may take a lot of caffeine and very little sleep, but in the end, you get the work done. You get things done.
That’s the procrastination advantage: Things get done. Maybe late. But, eventually, they get done.
Imagine if there was a way to leverage the procrastination advantage and apply it to your life goals. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that no matter how late you started working on your goals, you could eventually reach them?
Here is what you can do.
To be a really good procrastinator, you need to know three things:
- The Task: what you have to do
- The Deadline: when you have to turn it in
- The Punishment: what will happen if you don’t do it
For example, you know that you need to file your tax return (the task) every year by April 15th (the deadline). If you don’t, you will have to pay the IRS more money for every additional day that you’re late (the punishment).
Or you know that your wife asked you to fix the leaking faucet (the task), before her parents arrive for their annual visit (the deadline). And if you don’t fix it, you know you won’t be getting any…candy (the punishment).
When you know these three things, you are safe. You can be a master procrastinator and still get things done.
The real problem starts when you don’t know what is the task you need to do, by when you need to get it done, or what will happen if you don’t. Without knowing these three pieces of information, you will never take action toward your goals. And that’s how life goals never get accomplished.
Here is a crazy idea. If you want to start making progress on your life goals, you need to start procrastinating more and become really good at it! It’s one way to eventually get things done.
Your life goals are easy targets for failure.
Here is why.
- There is no task
Life goals are not tasks. They are visions, desires, all-encompassing statements about a future state of being. A life goal is made up of hundreds, if not thousands, of tasks.
For example, eating healthy is a goal but not a task. A task related to the goal of eating healthy is buying more vegetables during your weekly grocery store run. Another task related to the same goal is finding a way to store the vegetables properly to keep them fresh.
What to do about it?
Identify the tasks.
Make a list of all the different tasks that you have to carry out on a daily basis in order to keep moving things forward with your goal.
- There is no deadline.
Life goals have no deadlines. Without deadlines there is no pressure. You don’t have to worry whether you are caught up or falling behind. You don’t have to achieve your career or financial goals by a specific date. There is no application deadline for becoming a good parent or giving more to charity. There is no time limit to how long you can keep talking about your goals, without doing anything.
What to do about it?
Set the deadlines.
Set your own deadlines for each of the tasks. Because it is unrealistic to set a major deadline for the end-goal, you will be more effective by setting deadlines for each individual task.
- There is no punishment.
You don’t get punished for not having achieved your life goals. No one will threaten to fire you, to throw you in jail, or take your money away if you don’t lose weight, write your book, change jobs, start your own business, take better care of your health, or stay in touch with old friends. No one will yell at you for not having discovered your passion yet.
What to do about it?
Consider the losses.
Consider what would happen if you couldn’t achieve this goal. Think about the losses, the pain, and the torture of not being able to accomplish this goal.
Now you know how to make the most of the procrastination advantage. When you know the task, the deadline, and the punishment, you will procrastinate better. And procrastinating better means that you at least know what you need to do, how long you need to get it done, and what will happen if you don’t.
The odds of eventually getting things done just got higher!