Why Do We Procrastinate?

I have been meaning to write this blog entry for a while now, but kept putting it off.  Funny how that works, isn’t it?  We know we need to do something.  In fact, we often want to do it.  Yet, “things” just seem to get in the way.

My research in motivation over the years has taught me that the core principles are simple.  Here are some of them:

1) Develop a system of values that makes sense for you.  Yeah, I know–you already know what you stand for.  But do you really?  If I were to ask you to explain in thirty seconds your most fundamental value, could you do it?  I can.  I help others be all they can be.  More like three seconds, huh?

2) Examine and re-examine your values periodically.  There is nothing wrong with changing your value system when it makes sense.  Marriage, having a child, getting a divorce, becoming self-employed–all these kinds of life changes force us to re-evaluate ourselves.  Even outside of these changes, we all (hopefully) become wiser.  I used to have a dream of dating the Go-Gos and the Bangles–all at once.  A few days ago, I realized that maybe there are loftier goals for me to pursue.  Besides, they never returned my calls.

3) Choose your daily activities in accordance with your values.  If learning is high on your list, four hours of TV and playing Facebook games at night won’t cut it.  And don’t lie about it.  You know perfectly well that deep down you realize the incongruity.  Face up to it and make your choices necessary to bring your actions in line with your values.  You don’t have to give up Mafia Wars–just read for a while first.

4) For the most important things, set goals.  The right kind of goal increases performance, period.  If you are not making the progress you want, it is probably because you have not really decided what you want.

See?  Easy stuff.  So why do we tend to procrastinate?  It all comes down to one simple thing–the choice to be aware.  This one no one else can help you with.  It is the gradual, steady, disciplined process of opening your eyes.  It is the refusal to allow yourself to fall asleep at the wheel.  It is acknowledging that you are important enough to make each day an adventure instead of a drudge.

Now, go do something important.

–Terry is not all that spiritual, but he figures out something important now and then.  For a happy life, he recommends a high-fiber diet, regular consumption of his blog, and a visit to entrescape.com.

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