The Pain of Procrastination and the Power of Progress
I have a confession.
I’m a procrastinator. It’s not something I’m proud of.
I’m also a planner and a perfectionist. Which is doubly strange. How can someone be good at planning things with great attention to detail, but then wait until the last minute to execute?
Part of it could be an overly optimistic sense of how long it takes to accomplish things. Remembering the best case scenario of that one time of catching all green lights across town, when reality is much slower.
Another reason could be the painful yet exhilarating adrenaline rush of working against an imminent deadline with no room for error. It’s not healthy, but fear of failure is a powerful catalyst for me. Tim over at Wait But Why calls this the Panic Monster.
Believe me, I’ve tried to curb this bad habit for years. Endless Lifehacker articles. Countless productivity tips. I know I shouldn’t read that article on “4 Productivity Hacks You Can’t Live Without”, but those chores can wait five more minutes, right?
Ultimately it comes down to motivation. If you want to do something, if you’re excited to do something, you’ll find a way to work on it.
Do you have big, hairy, ambitious goals? Can you visualize your ideal life? It’s so easy to float by in life comfortable in the regular day to day routines. Work, eat, binge on a TV series, sleep, repeat. This might be your ideal life! But I would wager that you didn’t find yourself here because you want to coast.
You want your life to have significance.
You want your life to have purpose.
So how do you find the motivation to do it?
For me, I’ve found I respond well to defined goals with accountability and a dash of competition.
Success is steady progress toward one's personal goals.
Take personal fitness for example. I’ve sporadically dabbled with various at-home exercises after completing a fantastic round of P90X a few years back (thanks Tony!). More recently, I’d put off going to a gym by adding up the costs and time and thinking it was better to try to stick with the at-home routine. Talk about missing the forest for the trees! My problem was I wasn’t making the commitment to working out consistently at home. All that savings doesn’t add up to squat if you can’t stay in shape physically.
Have you heard of Orangetheory Fitness? I saw them sprouting up on street corners like the second coming of Starbucks and thought it was some new trendy NYC cycling studio. Not exactly! It’s a 60 minute, three part high intensity interval training (HIIT) workout using treadmills, rowers, and floor exercises focused on achieving at least 12 minutes of peak effort per class.
Studies indicate HIIT results in improved cardiovascular gains than traditional exercise, but Orangetheory’s twist is gamification through connected heart rate monitors displayed on screens throughout the gym. Your current heart rate, percentage of maximum, calories burned, average heart rate, and “splat points” (minutes in the orange and red zones) are all displayed with a dynamic background color corresponding to your current zone. Because the workout is based on your own personal heart rate, it scales to any level of fitness.
I don’t consider myself a runner, but seeing the points accumulate next to my name on a series of treadmill intervals (and trying to keep ahead of other people in class) is extra motivation to keep going. The commitment of a monthly membership is another motivator as it’s not cheap!
The results have been noticeable for me after eight classes in four weeks. My endurance is up and I look forward to each class. I’ll continue to work out outside of Orangetheory classes (there’s not as much weight training as I would like), but it’s a great way for me to consistently get in two solid cardio workouts a week and the membership transfers to other locations worldwide if I’m traveling.
The progress from working out has flowed over to other areas. I’m writing articles more consistently and being better about getting eight hours of sleep a night. It might be because my body is tired from working out, but a win is a win!
Don’t be paralyzed by perfection. Make progress over a series of time and you’ll be pleasantly surprised how quickly your goals are achieved.
As noted speaker Jim Rohn put it, “Success is steady progress toward one’s personal goals.”