Right when the year started, you sat down in front of your computer, logged into Facebook and painstakingly wrote an amazing list of goals for the year. We call them ‘New Year Resolutions’.
“This year, I am going to lose weight… again”
From all the years running our I Am Gifted! school holiday programmes, we realize that all students actually know what they should be doing in life, like studying for that end of year examinations, but somehow, we only find ourselves really getting into it when it is too late. This habit of procrastination affects just about everyone. It is simply paralysis in taking action that we know will benefit us.
Here are 4 tips to help deter procrastination and start taking action.
Make a Commitment to Yourself
The best way to compel yourself to take action is to make a personal commitment to yourself – a commitment that you will start taking action to achieve your goals. Everyone wants straight As, a high paying job or to own a dream house or a dream car. However, not everyone is willing to put in the necessary hard work and stay committed to working towards getting these goals.
The difference between wanting something and being committed to do it is that commitment involves doing whatever it takes to achieve the goals. It means that it takes precedence over anything else and the goal becomes your main priority. If you want to realise your goals, you must first be sure that you are committed to achieving them and not merely wanting them. One good strategy is to put your commitments in writing. Penning down the commitments and having a visual reminder of them will get you excited for them too.
Publicize your Commitment
Now that you have your commitment in writing, show it to everyone – your parents, your best friends, anyone that you love and care about. You want to get them to endorse these statements as witness. This simple, yet powerful action is going to prevent you from finding excuses to break promises that you have set for yourself.
There will be family and friends that support you. They might give you advice and provide you with the resources you might know you needed. At the same time, sure, there will be people that will laugh at you too. And if they do, I always tell my students, instead of feeling bad about it, use their mockery to drive yourself! In fact, the more they laugh, the better! By putting your reputation on the line, you have no choice but to achieve the goals and stay committed to them till the end. After all, what matters is who gets the last laugh.
Constantly Review your Goals
Before you go to bed everyday, as yourself if you have moved closer to your goal. This improvement might not need to be drastic; just a small step forward everyday will ensure that you will eventually get there! A question that I get students to get themselves before going to bed is “Am I 1% better than who I was yesterday?”. If the answer is yes, give yourself a pat on the shoulder for a job well done. If not, turn it into a reflection session to review on how you could have done better.
Reflecting and reviewing your goals daily, especially your specific wants and your reasons, and the benefits of achieving them, keeps your mind focused and excited. It will increase your potential of achieving the goals and more importantly, give you a sense of direction. External forces may distract and misdirect you, so daily reflections will help keep you on track.
Reward yourself along the way
Success breeds success. The power of this simple concept will keep you going until you reach your end goal. It is important to give yourself small rewards as you achieve each milestone, yes, even if it is something small! If your end goal is to score 80% in the end of year examinations, small milestones like doing well in a class test or finishing a different assignment you previously had trouble with, are small but amazing and great achievements. Celebrate and reward yourself! Take a break by going to the movies with your friends or by watching TV.
Similarly, set painful consequences for yourself whenever you procrastinate. If you procrastinate and do not finish an assignment on time, make yourself forfeit a movie date or some of your ‘me’ time to complete it.
It is never too late to start setting a goal and turn your dreams into reality. Combat your inner urge to procrastinate and start taking actions now.