Procrastination is something that everyone struggles with; according to Jim Rohn, it is the #1 killer of all success. In my study of self-discipline over the past 9 years, I’ve noticed a more prevalent dynamic than procrastination. It’s one where we don’t deliberately just put things off, or refuse to do them; but rather we mask the activities that we should be doing with ones that are more convenient to do. In other words we allow ourselves to be busy just being busy. The term that I’ve been using in my speeches to describe this phenomena is creative avoidance.
Although creative avoidance may appear in many forms there are really 4 main causes of our inaction towards what we really need to be doing to be productive. These 4 concepts apply to people across all different professions, ages, or endeavors. You show me a person who is not achieving life at the level they want to be and I’ll show you 1 of these 4 diagnosis.
1. Lack of Purpose and Vision
The likelihood of accomplishing your dream is directly proportionate to the clarity in which you see it. Most of us do not discipline ourselves to spend the time dreaming and then capturing and articulating those thoughts. Every great achievement was first birthed by a compelling dream. You know you have an effective vision if it (a) can be concisely articulated by you to another person and (b) calls you into action when you think about it. Having a long term vision gives you the perspective you need to endure the short term sacrifice. The sooner you clarify a person’s purpose the sooner you will see an increase in their production.
ADVICE: Put up pictures and images that represent the vision you have for your life and also have a list of affirmations stating exactly what and who you are becoming.
2. Lack of Gameplan and Intention
For many of us our inaction is actually caused by overwhelm of either what we’d need to do to be successful or by the seemingly insurmountable odds we’re up against to achieve our vision. This is where focus becomes so critical because you turn your attention from the grandiose dream to the immediacy of what action item is right in front of you.
ADVICE: Start with what you need to STOP doing. “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.” It’s often easier to notice which activities we need to eliminate than to identify what the steps are we need to take. Then via research, mentorship, or sheer intuition create a to-do list for every single day. Carry it with you and limit it to only 5 items. Knowing what your next 5 steps are reduces your fear and uncertainty dramatically.
3. Lack of Self-Confidence
There is a crisis of confidence in the world today. Millions of people are afflicted with self-doubt, low esteem, and uncertainty that leaves them unable to act. The cause? Comparing ourselves to others. The only reason why we’d never feel good about ourselves is when we hold ourselves up to someone else’s standards. It’s fine to compete with others to drive you but don’t compare yourself to them (i.e. derive your self-worth based on your production/results compared to theirs). Realize that as Mark Twain said “each man is my superior in some way” and that you have something incredibly unique and rare to offer the world.
ADVICE: Put your self-esteem into your work habits rather than your production. Challenge yourself to grow in terms of the effort you’re putting in and in terms of other things that are within your control. Take pride in controlling the controllables and letting everything else go.
4. Lack of Accountability
There is a law that simply states “that which is monitored is improved.” Simply by having to keep track of your actions and your results you are going to improve your productivity. But most of us don’t have someone holding us accountable. Because we’re all so busy being busy that there is no one to report our progress to. Or we avoid accountability because we’re afraid of either failing or it coming to light that actually WE’RE NOT DOING ANYTHING PRODUCTIVE! Accountability increases your chances of success, not decreases it. So don’t fear having to report to someone. For most of us it’s easy to let ourselves down but it’s incredibly painful to let someone else down.
ADVICE: Get someone to report your progress to daily. If your goal is fitness, get a trainer. If your goal is a promotion, get a mentor. If you’re trying to grow your business, get a coach. You must have someone on your team, that is in support of you, that checks in with you regularly. The cost of a coach may be hundreds but the cost of no accountability is millions. Learn about Top Producer’s Edge.
Self-discipline requires sacrifice. The 4 concepts listed above will require you to sacrifice your time, your convenience, your energy, and your emotional comfort with “the way you’ve always done it.” But remember a cornerstone of the Take The Stairs mentality is that it’s a privilege, not a sacrifice, to pay the price for your dreams. Discipline yourself to execute what is above and let go of being comfortable. Do what others aren’t willing to do; Take The Stairs.
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See you in the stairwell,
Take the stairs – Success means doing what others won’t.