Strategies to Stop Procrastination Sabotaging Your Goals (and life in general) Part Four

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock


Last week we delved into the many benefits of overcoming procrastination and covered real, practical steps to make procrastination a thing of the past. This week we conclude the series by looking at how to incorporate a reward system for doing tasks, looks at the advantages of having an ‘accountability buddy’ and explain how we can effectively visualize.


Positive reinforcement


Try giving yourself incentives to finish tasks, things that you will find enjoyable and genuinely consider treats. This will replace the immediate benefit and feel good hormones associated with procrastination and in time will re-train your brain to be more inclined to get things done.


Negative reinforcement


If positive reinforcement doesn’t work try negative reinforcement – the act of taking away something bad such as having to do admin that can wait or tidying your room. Remember, don’t cancel doing anything that has an impending deadline or is an urgent task such as paying bills as this is just self-sabotaging.


Strategies to Stop Procrastination Sabotaging Your Goals (and life in general) Part Three

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock


Last week we explored the fears which can make our procrastination worse and examine how we can overcome them, this week we take a look at the many benefits of overcoming procrastination and will delve into some practical steps you can take to make procrastination a thing of the past.


The benefits of overcoming procrastination


Having lived most of my life as a chronic procrastinator I can testify to the benefits of overcoming procrastination. Take a look at the list below, do these stand out as significantly improving your quality of life? Would you like to see these same benefits in your life? Then read on…


  • Living without dreading how you will do the things needed to manage life well
  • Being confident in your ability to do difficult tasks
  • Being confident in your ability to achieve goals
  • Living in line with your ambitions
  • Increasing your productivity
  • Achieving goals!
  • Being able to fulfill your promises to others


Now list all the things that you want to do that if you didn’t procrastinate you could achieve and keep it somewhere you will see it every day.


Now let’s get down to the nitty gritty of how we can overcome procrastination.


Strategies to Stop Procrastination Sabotaging Your Goals (and life in general) Part Two

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock


Last week we explored the science behind why we procrastinate, this week we look at the fears which can make our procrastination worse and examine how we can overcome them.


Almost all psychological causes of procrastination relate to fear, namely fear of success and fear of failure. Below are some examples of how our fears can manifest themselves consciously:


Fear of failure


  • Not knowing where to begin
  • Doubting your ability to do the task
  • Being overwhelmed by the size of the task
  • Being overwhelmed by the complexity of the task
  • Being intimidated by how little time you have to do the task (you feel you will fail anyway so don’t even try / delay working on it because it fills you with dread)


Fear of success


  • You feel too much pressure to continue performing well
  • You associate success with an undesirable personal quality (such as arrogance or pride)
  • You view success as complicating life
  • You view success as having more responsibility
  • You fear having success is temporary
  • You fear success because if you achieved it you would have too much to lose


How to overcome the fear of failure


I have struggled a lot with this one. The ‘aha’ moment came when I realized that by not trying I was making my fear of failure a self fulfilling prophesy. My thinking beforehand had been that if I didn’t try I wasn’t really failing because I could always rationalize that I didn’t really try. But the end result was always the same, the project, task or assignment would remain unfinished and I would have made no progress whatsoever. See below for practical solutions to the most common forms of a fear of failure.


Strategies to Stop Procrastination Sabotaging Your Goals (and life in general) Part One

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock


Procrastination has always been a huge issue in my life. When studying I would wait until the very last minute to start assignments, often missing deadlines as a result and at one point resulting in having to restart a course.  I remember the agony and devastation I felt when I considered myself a failure as a result of restarting my course. Fear of failure was one of my worst fears and, ironically, it was this very fear that caused my procrastination. These days I still struggle with procrastination, even although it may not seem obvious to others.


The main shift took place when I started keeping a diary and listing my to do items each day, a habit I got into shortly after beginning therapy. Indeed there were many habits I formed in therapy that, without my knowing it, made procrastination less of an issue in my life. Today I still psychologically resist doing tasks but rather than putting things off for days or even months I now take just a few hours before tackling items on my to do.


In this series I will examine the scientific and psychological research on procrastination and tell you the practical steps you can take to stop procrastinating – highly effective steps that have worked – even for a chronic procrastinator such as me.


But what is procrastination exactly? According to Wikipedia


“Procrastination is the avoidance of doing a task that needs to be accomplished. It is the practice of doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, or carrying out less urgent tasks instead of more urgent ones, thus putting off impending tasks to a later time. Sometimes, procrastination takes place until the “last minute” before a deadline. Procrastination can take hold on any aspect of life — putting off cleaning the stove, repairing a leaky roof, seeing a doctor or dentist, submitting a job report or academic assignment or broaching a stressful issue with a partner. Procrastination can lead to feelings of guilt, inadequacy, depression and self-doubt.”


Career In Action: The benefits of keeping an achievement and highlight diary

Although this is a great exercise to boost motivation and moral if you have decided to stay in your current job, you can do this exercise even if you adore your role, to ensure you remain happy and encouraged.


Each day at the end of the work day simply write down one achievement, however small, and one highlight, which could even be something like ‘I really connected and felt supported by Clive today at our work drinks’ – whatever has made your day just that little bit brighter.


Wishing you all a rewarding and fulfilling career,


x X x Jenny x X x


PS Stay tuned – our next hot topic is titled…

‘Strategies to Stop Procrastination Sabotaging Your Goals (and life in general)’

Sick of your nine to five? How to love what you do and get the most out of your career Part Four

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock


Last week we formulated our ideal job description and compensation package, this week we look at how to best be strategic when it comes to planning our career, the advantages of opting for further training and we’ll explore the ways by which we can maximize our fulfillment at work.


Be strategic


These days when planning your next career move it is important to be strategic. I had to evaluate carefully whether I wanted to take on more responsibility, if I was prepared to work longer hours or have a commute and honestly assess the kind of work / life balance I was seeking. I then had to allow these factors to directly influence which jobs I applied for – no matter how good on my CV that job in London with the long commute and the hectic hours would look.


Equally money doesn’t always equal advancement. Sometimes it is necessary to make a sideways move or even take a pay cut to enter into a career that has more opportunities for rising up the ladder in future or offers you a better work / life balance.


Career In Action: Create your ideal compensation package

Research your two roles compensation packages on offer online and write out an ambitious but realistic desired compensation package, including bonus (if applicable), pension, medical, holiday, potentially a company car and other options like flexi-time, working from home, childcare vouchers or travel loans for example.


Make sure you do your research properly so it doesn’t read as a wish list but rather an ambitious but within-the-realm-of-possibility package.


For a fun little extra you could calculate how much money you could save each month once you reach your desired salary!


Career In Action: Create your ideal job description

This is the fun part. Look at sample job descriptions online of the careers / jobs on your shortlist to get a feel for the general format and variations within the role and then write out your ideal job description including all responsibilities and duties.


This will motivate and inspire you in your journey towards a rewarding work life whilst reminding you what you are aiming for.


Career In Action: Work on your resume or research where you can study

If you don’t need to study for one or two of your choices:


If one or both of your two options does not require study, take today to begin overhauling your resume, focusing on your transferable skills. Invest in several interview books and read them over the coming weeks.


Work Pathway Resources:


Download “Resume-Template.doc” Resume-Template.doc – Downloaded 26 times – 82 KB


‘The Little Book of Career Success’ by Hilary Wilson


‘Ultimate Interview’ by Lynn Williams


If you need to study or train:


Take today to research local institutions that feature the courses you will need to take. Read over their application criteria and guidelines. Check out the process of enrolling and what services the facility provides such as clubs or cafes on site, etc. Read about the course you want to study. Get excited and plan your next step.


Career In Action: Narrow your shortlisted careers down to two

Take time today to look over all of the exercises you have done throughout this series and assess which two of your shortlisted careers / jobs, are the best match for you. Whilst doing this take into account:


Your research on each role (both passion or finance career planning roles)
Your budgeting and finances (budgets for studying etc)
Your likes
Your dislikes
Your strengths
Your weaknesses
The work / life balance you are looking for (NB: This is a very important factor)


Remember whilst it is important to factor these things in there is no such thing as a perfect job or career, what you are really looking for are the two options that are the best fit for you.


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