How do you overcome procrastination? We all have it. We all want to fix it. We all hate it. Yet we still find ourselves putting off what we know we should be doing to do something more fun (but less productive).
I’ve poured over advice from the world’s most successful people on this topic, like Brian Tracy. And want to provide you with some tips.
Listen to the podcast episode below:
You Don’t Have To Be Perfect
We all procrastinate, even multi-millionaires and billionaires have admitted to procrastinating. Matt Lloyd of MOBE, a mult-millionaire, admitted he still catches himself on Facebook from time to time. Warren Buffett admitted in the 2016 Annual Shareholders Meeting that he put off firing someone with Alzheimers for too long because he liked him.
But what they do differently is they set up systems so it happens less, especially for important things. Working smarter often beats working harder.
While we all know the importance of working hard by now, working yourself to death alone isn’t the most efficient or effective process.
How to stay consistent for a long time on something?
I’m going to take a different spin and opinion on this.
You have to love what you do.
I’ve spent many, many, years trying to beat my head against the wall with willpower to stay concentrated.
But these were things I wasn’t truly passionate about. Even though I tried to convince myself I was.
Honestly, the passion was partially there. It wasn’t completely fake.
I was one of the most energetic in class. I participated most in discussions and questions.
I was often fascinated by the topic.
But there hit a point where I wasn’t anymore as the curriculum got more complex.
I tried to keep at it for a long time. It had worked in the past. For a good deal of high school, I had succeeded by implementing study strategies that allowed me to keep learning and preparing to do well in school.
But college changed things around.
Procrastination Isn’t The Problem. Your Choice of What To Do Is.
I was pre-med. I wanted to go to medical school. Being asian, this doesn’t seem like a surprise. This is a very common thread for most Asian American families.
Having said that though, in college, I felt like this was right for me. Although I was encouraged by my parents, I thought it would be a good pathway forward. Honestly, it definitely just felt like a more serious, challenging, and interesting major than mathematics, computer science, or English, all of which I had dabbled in quite extensively in high school.
But the truth was that it was just not right.
As the years went on, I got assigned more and more stuff. Eventually, I had dozens of pages of reading on dense topics such as mammalian physiology, lymph systems, human blood circulation, advanced genetics, and biochemistry.
Although I tried extremely hard, studied super hard, got mad at myself numerous times when I lost focus every 3 pages, things would not click.
Looking back, there were countless moments throughout the years where I would try everything I could do to keep focused. I blamed myself because my willpower was not strong enough.
And I kept at it for so long. So many semesters of numerous courses where the material was way over my head. Where the teachers weren’t that good.
Then, I started studying for the MCAT and it was even worse. The MCAT is the grand-daddy of standardized tests. It’s the test for medical school. The material is incredibly complex and there is a ton to memorize and understand. I remember taking thick MCAT books everywhere and get mad at myself when I would get bored after 2 or 3 pages. Sometimes, I would feel frantic or anxious or mad at myself because I thought this was my future and yet there was something wrong with me.
I thought it was my fault for this. I thought I was a procrastinator or maybe lacked discipline or a time waster.
But this wasn’t the case.
A few years later, things have changed.
I no longer want to go to medical school.
More importantly, I have found that I can read books in other topics for much longer periods of time without getting bored (although I usually do it through acknowledging and owning another understanding of how I learn: I prefer listening to reading and so I listen to audiobooks. Thank god for technology! Imagine if I was born 20 years earlier! I would have been screwed.)
Being interested in a topic can give you several hundred percentage points of motivation and interest to stay focused.
Don’t Take It Too Far
Maybe it’s important to add: don’t take this too far.
You can be too spoiled with this attitude of “I don’t love it enough. Maybe it’s not the right thing”
Nothing will be perfect.
Maybe for even those who found their greatest passion, there are moments of boredom. Maybe not. I do know, however, that is wasn’t all peaches and cream and easy times for successful people.
Successful people do what unsuccessful people don’t:
So even if they are interested in it, there will be moments they don’t particularly enjoy: pain, the sweat of hard work, occasional boredom, and many other obstacles.
Are you willing to work hard at your craft and get little to no critical acclaim, or maybe not even any results, for 10+ years?
Thanks for reading and make sure you subscribe to my email newsletter for exclusive updates.
Recommended reading: Essentialism – This book was recommended by numerous successful people. I went into it a bit skeptical, but was really blown away by the amount of high impact information on time management. There is very little fluff in this book.
Brian Tracy’s Tips on Procrastination:
Dr. BJ Fogg’s talk on Tiny Habit formation:
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