Why Do Goal Oriented People Sometimes Procrastinate?

@pavector – Stock.Adobe.Com

You can fill a few shelves with books about procrastination. These resources are especially helpful for the chronic habitual procrastinator. What about the rest of us? Why do careful planners and goal oriented folks sometimes put things off?

Everybody procrastinates from time to time

I’m a program/ project manager. My main job duty is to make certain everything happens when it’s supposed to at the projected cost. Over the past year, my employer has asked me to create corporate project management training. Great opportunity, right? Meh. I hate writing nonfiction (respect to those of you who rock this genre). Weeks pass with no progress while the classes get uncomfortably close.

Exploring the “Why” we procrastinate

Here are my theories. Mind you, I’m not a mental health professional just an experienced observer of human behavior:

  • You don’t want to do it
  • You resent doing it
  • You don’t know how to do it and are afraid to ask for help
  • You lack the self-confidence to do it

@Anna Kutukova – Stock.Adobe.Com

Let’s take the first two bullets (they’re related) – I get it. Been there. Forced to wear the t-shirt.

“We have to tighten our belts, which means everybody has to help out by taking on more work. We just don’t have the resources, so can you squeeze it in? Oh, and I need it by Monday.”

Sound familiar? I could give you the same tired old advice to buckle down and just do it. BUT – I’m not. Rather, I’m suggesting you figure out what’s in it for YOU. Document what you’re doing and use it to get a promotion or a better job.

@aaabbc – Stock.Adobe.Com

A word about FEAR (aka the last two bullets) – Everyone experiences self-doubt when trying to do a new task. What you do with that fear defines you. Option One: Stay paralyzed with fear, don’t do the task and get in trouble or fired. Option Two: Seek out someone who can help you and be honest with them. I think you’ll find most folks are happy to give you a little help.

What if my procrastination doesn’t involve the day job? I’m experiencing the “I don’t wanna” symptoms on my creative project. My advice: This may be your subconscious trying to tell you the path you’re headed down is the wrong one. Take some time to examine what you’re doing and why.

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Finished! Not Quite Yet

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Congratulations! You’ve typed “The End” on your book. Listed “Fin” on that indie film. Played the last note of your glorious symphony. You’ve earned that great sense of accomplishment. Excellent job!

Hang on! You’re not quite done yet. Things to think about before you shut down your creative projects:

  • Putting Artifacts in a Safe Place – You worked hard to gather your research. Who knows when you may need it again?
  • Tying Up Loose Ends – Have you handled all the legal (or other) requirements associated with your project such as copyright or obtaining permission to use illustrations, etc.
  • Planning a Method to Evaluate Your Project – Are you planning to monitor social media or purchases, etc. to determine the performance of your product? Do you have a strategy to improve performance?
  • Improving Your Processes – Have you gathered lessons learned to improve your next project and avoid the same mistakes? See my post “What Can You Learn from Your Last Creative Project?”

Don’t forget the most important step. Celebrate your success!

Avoiding Frustration when You Hit a Road Block

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Creative projects – by their very nature – should be fun. We race down the path, full of energy and excitement. It’s easy. The ideas flow and don’t stop (at first). Then you hit your first road block. Maybe you’re stuck on a problem or run out of cash to complete your project? Boom. You’re just entered Frustration Town.

If you caught my blog series, Planning Your Dreams into Reality, then you’ve made a project plan. It has the tasks you must accomplish to complete your creative project. Maybe you’ve even created a schedule (look at you go!). So what gives? How did you end up staring at your personal road block?

It could be any number of things. You may have forgotten a step. Perhaps the research you did was incomplete or inaccurate in some way? Or maybe the Universe just hates you! Kidding. Sometimes road blocks happen. It’s how you handle them that determines whether you’re going to succeed or fail.

Try taking a step back. Rather than looking at the Ultimate project goal, try coming up with a short-term goal. Don’t get me wrong. You should always keep the end goal in mind. However, smaller short-term goals make up the big project. Taking them one at a time can reduce stress and help you avoid frustration. Keep slamming out the little goals and before you know it, the big project is much closer to being complete.

 

I’ve Got It. Now What Do I Do with It?

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If you’ve been reading this blog for the past few weeks, you should have a boat load of information ready to go. No? How about a good idea for getting your hands on the information you need? For the purposes of this blog, let’s say you do. Now what? All this information is useful, but a bit cumbersome. Time to build your master plan.

Here’s a simple technique to get organized:

  • Picture each piece of information as a wooden block (or Legos if that works better for you)
  • Make categories to store the boxes. I’ll use writing a book as an example.
    • Yellow would be all the research I did for the book
    • Green would be creating the outline and all the other steps I must take to write the rough draft of the book
    • Red would be editing and the tasks associated with this phase of my book development
  • Make columns in your favorite word processing or spreadsheet tool. Color code the columns to match your categories
  • Think about how you’ll go about completing each category. Sometimes the categories may overlap (example: I may have to do additional research while I’m writing the rough draft)
  • List all the information or tasks in the order you need them to be accomplished

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There you go. You’ve just created your draft plan! Pat yourself on the back for a job well done. Then let this sit for a while. You’ll probably find holes in your plan as you review it more carefully.

Final step to the plan: Add Dates! Hold yourself to a schedule, but be realistic about time frames too. You want to see your goal become reality, but being too aggressive gets discouraging.

BEFORE YOU GO! Join me next week on DTJ for a sneak peek of my upcoming book release: The Obsidian Gates – Book Two of the Heart of the Warrior series!

Putting Legs on Your Idea

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“What is not started today is never finished tomorrow.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Dreams, Goals, Aspirations – they keep our hearts pumping and get us out of bed in the morning. Take yours for example. You’ve been daydreaming about it for months. If you’ve read my last post (Are You Ready to Get Started?), then you have a clear idea of what success looks like. Let’s put some legs on that idea!

Keeping your list of criteria (what success looks like to you) handy, let’s plot out the steps to achieve your goal:

  • Laptop or pen and paper ready to go. Check!
  • Motivational music. Check!
  • Stares at blank page and scratches head.

Don’t panic. Unless you’ve planned projects and programs for years, you can’t know the exact steps off the top of your head. It takes a bit of research and maybe a chat with an expert who’s done something like you’re trying to accomplish. Here are a few suggestions on how to get started:

  • Think it through – Make a list of the things you need to do before you can achieve your goal. Note – You’re just getting started, so you’ll have gaps.
  • Research it – Jump on line and start searching. Better yet, visit your local library.
  • Research it Hardcore – Hop in the car and visit a place that relates to your idea. Example – I’m writing a historical horror story. I plan to visit my local museum.
  • Research it Hardcore the Sequel – Contact someone who is an expert in the subject matter you’re researching. Most people are happy to talk about their favorite subjects.

Great work! We’ll talk it through next time on DTJ.

Are You Ready to Get Started?

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It’s almost the time of year when we sit back on the couch and reflect on the past year’s doings. Did you tick mark all the goals you wanted to accomplish in 2016? No. Don’t worry about it. You’re in good company.

The past is best left in the past. Let’s take another look at your unfinished goals list. Are they all boring home projects or do you have something special among the list? A childhood dream perhaps? Or a chance at a new career?

Pick the one you’re most passionate about. Can’t decide on just one? Here’s a check list to help:

  • Does your heart beat a little faster when you think about it?
  • Are you anxious to wake up and get started on the goal?
  • Is this something you can see yourself doing for at least a year?

If you answered “Yes” to one or more of these questions, then Bingo! You have a winner. Hold on now. Don’t just dive in. Take a breath. If you want this endeavor to be successful, then you should do a little planning first.

Planning 101 – Step 1: Determine What Success Looks Like

You’ve got a goal in mind. Now put on your visualization hat and let your mind wander. Imagine what the goal looks like when you’re done. What must your goal (object, process or career) look, feel, sound like? Are you happy with what you’ve decided?

Write down the criteria you’ve imagined and pin it up on the wall or get high-tech and put it on your mobile device. Keep the criteria in mind as you make decisions along the path to achieving your goal.

What Can You Learn from Your Last Creative Project?

Learning from our past successes and/or mistakes is critical for growth. Doing more of “what we did right” and less of “what we did wrong” makes a difference in our road to success.

In the project management world, the team holds a “Lessons Learned” session. We talk through the positives and the negatives. Each item is documented for future projects. The negative items are further explored to find ways to mitigate these flaming wrecks before they happen.

Here are a few ways you can do your own “Lessons Learned” for your creative projects:

Be as objective as you can: Pour a glass of wine or grab a handful of chocolate. Your intent in doing the lessons learned is to be better next time

Gather the folks you worked with on the project. Be respectful of their time (especially if you worked with an independent editor. It might not be the best idea to contact a publisher’s editor. You don’t want to ruin your chances for next time.) and don’t push. If they can’t meet with you, then ask them if they’d be willing to express their views via email

Write every thought down (whether you agree with it or not). You can sort them later

Step away from the list and take time to mull things over. Try not to be down on yourself for the negatives. This is a learning tool.

Take action. Hold on tight to the positives and make a plan to correct the negatives.

Remember though – you may not be able to “fix” everything the next go around. It’s a journey.