Are you one of those people who have a to-do list that’s a mile long? You really want to start a blog, train for a marathon, start a tumblr photoshopping elf ears on stock photos*…whatever… but when push comes to shove, you never seem to be able to get started?
*I know someone who does this and it’s the best thing I ever heard of
Procrastination is an art to you. There’s always something more pressing to do like spending quality time with Netflix or watering your plants or literally ANYTHING other than doing the thing you really want to do.
Why do you think that is? If you really, truly want to do something, what’s holding you back? Fear.
Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear of ridicule. Fear of so many things that you can’t even properly articulate all of them.
The biggest lesson I learned from blogging every week is that I just have to do the thing. I have to push through till I’m done and ship it out, regardless of whether I think it’s a pile of garbage or the best thing I’ve ever produced. Making excuses is just surrendering to fear’s persistent nagging at confidence and enthusiasm in place of a valid reason.
Here are 6 convincing reasons to stop procrastinating that will inspire you to take action:
1/ BECAUSE YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO IT ALL AT ONCE
Developers have a working philosophy when creating a product that is called MVP or Minimal Viable Product. What is rolled out is just sufficient enough for it to operate at a basic level thus minimizing the cost and time spent as well as the risk if the product fails. You may have lofty goals for a project but your grand plans may psyche you out before you’ve begun. Take advice from artist and writer, Austin Kleon, who dedicated an entire chapter in Show Your Work to sharing something small every day. Start with the most important aspect and build upon it later; in increments.
2/ BECAUSE IT’S NEVER WASTED EFFORT
A lot of times, people will refrain from taking action because they’re afraid of making the wrong choice and wasting precious time. Should I start a career in writing or be a designer? If one doesn’t work out, you’re still further along than you were before because you can cross that option off the list and move on. It’s better to commit to a choice and make a mistake because you can always fix it later.
3/ BECAUSE IT’S NOT WORTH MORE THAN 10 MINUTES
David Lavin of the Lavin Agency said that one of the key factors that makes someone successful is the ability to make quick decisions. That’s not to say that it’ll necessarily be the right decision (though you’ll try) but understanding that the majority of decisions are not worth more than 10 minutes deliberation. It’s more important to make a decision, (even if it turns out to be the wrong) because everything can be fixed.
4/ BECAUSE YOU’LL FEEL BETTER
Procrastinating is tempting and so easy to do but by indulging in this bad habit, you’re just weighing yourself down. Sagmeister expresses this point perfectly in a excerpt from his exhibit The Happy Show:
Every single time I think “I should do this” or “I should do that” and then don’t follow through and actually do it, the uncompleted action creates a nagging but otherwise empty space in my mind. I’ll also miss out on the satisfying feeling that comes with the completion of a project.
5/ BECAUSE YOU CAN ONLY GET BETTER
For those of you waiting until your design, blog post, novel…is absolutely perfect, chances are, you’ll be waiting a long time. It’ll probably never see the light of day and then what was the point? “Perfect” is not a realistic expectation especially if you’re just starting off. You need to experience actually doing something over and over again to figure out what needs adjusting. Adopt the motto “Done is better than good” and just strive to improve with each iteration.
6/ BECAUSE FEAR ISN’T A GOOD ENOUGH EXCUSE
The instinct to hold on to our work; to not ship, or to do the things we want to do out of fear of ridicule or feeling like it’s not “perfect” enough is natural. So natural that it’s prehistoric. Seth Godin explains how our lizard brain keeps us from shipping. It may be trying to protect us from perceived dangers but the lizard brain is unable to distinguish between a valid danger and an innocuous one. Fear is not a good enough reason to keep us from doing what will fulfill us. Focus on the act of doing versus the outcome and you may be able to override your lizard brain.