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How to Stop Procrastinating: 9 Things You Can Do to Put This Bad Habit to Rest Once and for All

Updated on December 16, 2009

Overcoming Procrastination Doesn't Have to be Hard with This Definitive Plan of Action

Do you need to overcome procrastination? Not sure? Then let me ask this, do you have dreams?

Dreams of making more money next year so you can finally get out of debt;

Dreams of losing weight so you can finally fit into your favorite pair of jeans;

Dreams of finishing your degree so you can finally enter the profession of your choice;

Dreams of falling in love with the partner of your . . . well, dreams?

Of course, you do. We all have these types of dreams. And, they are achievable for every single one of us. But, most of us do nothing day in and day out towards our dreams. We don’t know how to stop procrastinating and start working towards our dream, so we stay forever unfilled.

It doesn’t have to be this way

How to Stop Procrastinating: Step #1 – Diagnosing the Problem

I was watching Oprah one day, and she said something profound. I don’t remember what the show was about, but she said that all of our actions result from two emotions – love and fear.

2 Reasons Human Beings React & How to Put This Info to Use to Change Your Life

The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Think about a range of human emotions, ie:

Anger: The root of anger is fear – fear that you won’t get what you want; fear that you’re losing control; fear that you’re not smart enough, talented enough, pretty enough, etc.

Pride: The root of pride is love – love of accomplishment, love of interest, love of doing, etc.

Jealousy: The root of jealousy is fear, for many of the same reasons listed above in anger.

Admiration: The root of this emotion is love, for many of the same reasons listed above in pride.

And, we could go on and on.

How to Stop Procrastinating: Step #2 – Acknowledge the Emotion & Where It Comes From

Once you recognize which emotion you’re working from when it comes to procrastination, you can then figure out your next step, which is acknowledging the emotion and the root cause of it.

For example, when you were growing up, did someone tell you that you would “never amount to anything,” or that “your brother is the smart one,” or that “you don’t have a talent for that.”

It’s amazing how a comment or action that happened years ago can affect your psyche years into the future.

Even if you can’t hit upon an exact moment or comment from your past that causes you to be the way you are today, acknowledge whatever it is that is holding you back. It could be that you were just never told that you were special or made to feel capable of achieving whatever it is you want to achieve.

Once you know why you feel the way you do, you can then give this gift to yourself, which bring us to our next “how to stop procrastinating” tip . . .

How to Stop Procrastinating: Step #3 – Give the Gift of Love to Yourself

The wonderful thing about growing up and becoming a responsible adult is that you can choose your path in life. No matter how horrible your childhood may have been, or how terribly others have treated you in the past, you can choose a new reality – starting today.

How to Stop Procrastinating: Step #4 – Remove Negative Influences

To achieve goals, you need encouragement. So surround yourself with people who will encourage you to stop procrastinating and stay on track to achieving your goals. Remove negative influences and people from your life. Directly and indirectly, this is one of the major reasons many procrastinate. After all, if you’re surrounded by people who aren’t accomplishing goals, then you’re more likely to procrastinate on achieving yours.

There’s a famous idiomatic expression (I don’t know who said it) that goes, “You can tell everything you need to know about a person by who their five closest friends are.”

If you’re surrounded by losers and ne’er-do-wells, that’s probably what you are too. For, successful people don’t have the time or energy to put up with this kind of crap because they’re too busy achieving.

How to Stop Procrastinating: Step #5 – Get Help If Necessary

If you feel like you need help (eg, therapy) to deal with emotional baggage from your past that is inhibiting your ability to succeed today – then by all means get it. There’s no crime in it. I think everyone should have therapy because none of us come with a book of instructions as to how to be a happy, successful, fulfilled human beings.

Crap happens! But, that doesn’t mean it should hold you back from living your best life. Get help – and get on the road to happiness.

How to Stop Procrastinating: Step #6 – Set Concrete Goals

Start out with mini goals, eg, I will get up at 5 am for the next three weeks to write for at least one hour.

Write down your goals and cross them off when you achieve them. This makes it less likely that you will procrastinate, and it gives you solid, visible proof of your accomplishments. There’s nothing like seeing in black and white what you’ve accomplished to keep you pushing forward.

How to Stop Procrastinating: Step #7 – Prepare for Setbacks

You are going to have setbacks. Remember this is . . . life! It happens. But, that’s no excuse to slide back into bad habits. If you have a slipup, double up on your efforts or just recognize it for what it is and then get right back to your routine.

For example, I’m a marathon runner (I mostly do half marathons). This means I have to stick to a training schedule. But there are days I just don’t feel like running. But, I try to never go three days without putting in some time on the track/treadmill. Why?

Because the longer period of time that lapses, the easier it is to make excuses not to get back on track and the harder it is to start again. So while I do have occasional slipups, running is such a part of me that I start to get cranky if I don’t get my mileage in.

How to Stop Procrastinating: Step #8 – Form Habits

Running is  a habit with me now. And, this is why routine is important when you’re learning how to stop procrastinating. Do whatever it takes to make achieving your goal a habit, whether it’s writing for an hour a day, running three miles 5 times a week, doing 100 sit ups every night before bed, or sketching for an hour.

How to Stop Procrastinating: Step #9 – Celebrate Your Successes

If you make taking steps to achieving your goals a habit, eventually, you will get there. But don’t forget to take time to celebrate milestones along the way. One of the best parts of learning how to stop procrastinating is that you will start to achieve so much more than you ever thought was possible.

Celebrate that!

Overcoming Procrastinating: Concluding Thought

Learning how to stop procrastinating is about more than wasting time; it’s so much deeper. Usually, it’s fear that holds us back from a whole world of opportunity. Whether it’s because you don’t think you can or because you don’t think you deserve it, don’t let procrastination snatch your dream away from you.

Recognize it when it creeps in – and take definitive action to get rid of it. Then you can start celebrating the joyful life that you so richly deserve.

Need Help Overcoming Procrastination?

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