How to Kill Procrastination

Question: What plans do you have for yourself that you’ve just been pushing into the future?

You probably know the type of plans I mean – the good stuff that seems to be always a few months out of reach.

If that’s you, congratulations – you’re just in time to prevent some regrets.

Think about this: do you really want to be in this exact same position this time next year? How would that feel?

You might tell yourself that a year can seem like a long time. One thing I do know is that time passes quickly when we idle away the moments. Procrastination – the failure to move into action – is not a modern problem either.

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” – Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)

Listen to da Vinci. Information is not enough. Intention is not enough. There’s something fundamentally different about action which greatly outstrips mere knowledge or willingness.

Some of you might think that da Vinci sat around all day figuring things out. Far from it. He accomplished an immense amount in his lifetime.

So what causes procrastination and how do we solve it? How can you learn to move into action more of the time?

Where people fail to act:

  • Being unaware of choices
    There are certain things we’re culturally conditioned to decide and most of them aren’t really that important when you look at the bigger picture.There are other decisions that are invisible to all but the top 0.1%, the ‘great achievers’ of our age.These are the things that you ‘can’t’ or ‘aren’t supposed to’ decide.For example, you could just decide that this is going to be the year in which your life becomes transformed – the year your dreams and plans become a glorious reality.When you consider that, what did you tell yourself? Many people think “but I can’t just do that!” then reason away their future with faulty ideas about luck, random forces or what they think they deserve.
  • Being ‘all talk’
    There’s an old saying – “talk is cheap”. It’s a sad fact that talk doesn’t necessarily transform into action.The paradox is that when you get into action, you have something to talk about.
  • Being purely theoretical
    Pure theory involves plenty of supposition and no experimentation. It’s a world-view that only builds on existing assumptions. The only testing is for plausibility (i.e. does this match what I know?). As you can probably imagine, it’s possible to build towering edifices of theory on top of faulty assumptions.Good theory is intimately linked with action – and thus learning occurs. Books aren’t great for learning unless you test the knowledge presented there. Otherwise, the only exercise is one of memory.“Life is so unlike theory.” – Anthony Trollope
  • Being too clever
    If you’ve ever seen a doorstop with built in alarm clock radio, you’ll know that it’s possible to be a bit too clever. Unfortunately, this apparent exaggeration is not far from the truth in many cases. Complexity is not a virtue. To me, the truly clever people are those who can make a seemingly complex idea easy to understand. I’m not talking about ‘dumbing down’ ideas. I’m talking about good communication and the elegance of simplicity. Wallowing in apparent complexity is a great way of avoiding action.“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo da Vinci
  • Being a perfectionist
    The act of perfecting something can take a long time. The standard of ‘perfection’ is, by definition, extremely hard to achieve. And often unnecessary. To wait for perfection is sometimes to wait forever. Sometimes good is good enough. Then you can act. Remember the saying “perfect spoils good”.
  • Anticipating failure
    Many people fail to act because their experience tells them that it just hurts too much to fail. This is a double whammy. Firstly, the focus is on pain and failure and you will tend to get what you focus on. Second, there is the barrier of ‘being safe’Isn’t it safe to begin living your dreams? The (often faulty) assumption of safety is that it’s safest to stick with what you’ve got and do nothing new.In many cases, ‘safe’ is like sitting in a car which is rolling towards a cliff. Everything is perfectly okay until that inevitable moment…

Decision is very often the process of cutting away all lesser options. Here’s how:

Exercise for moving into action:

  1. Identify: Where is your ‘theoretical’ knowledge?
    1. Imagine it’s true
      Close your eyes. Imagine and experience the actions that go with understanding that. What do you see, hear and feel?
    2. Imagine it’s not true
      Imagine and experience the actions that do with discovering that. What do you see, hear and feel this time?
  2. Integrate: Allow your unconscious mind to sort and combine all the information from both experiences.
  3. Action: What is the easiest way that you can test your theory in the Real World? Go now and do that before moving on.
  4. Fuzzy proposition: Few practical ‘facts’ are completely true or completely untrue. There are ‘degrees of truth’ to almost any statement based on the situation and circumstances. Based on your Real World experiences, decide where/when it’s true and where/when it’s not true.
  5. Learning: What did you learn from your ‘test actions’ that was not in (i) or (ii)? This is where learning expands through experiential knowledge.

NOTE:
It’s important to take any pain out of the learning process. Make it so experimentation feels neutral and successes feel good. Give yourself a little rewarding glow every time you do something surprisingly right or good or excellent.

It’s like being in the supermarket looking through oranges to find the best ones. Dented or unripe oranges don’t feel bad. It’s more of a neutral experience. The good ones feel different though, don’t they? Make your action steps feel like this and you’ll succeed more of the time.

Summary

This is how we kill procrastination.

The true test is in the testing – da Vinci knew this because he was an experimental sort. He was constantly modelling the world around him, testing and refining those models through action.

It’s time to take action now. Otherwise, all you can hope for is regret.

Real World NLP

When I started out with NLP, my first experiences were motivated by an interest in communication, so I focused most on those aspects of my development. From a scientific perspective, I was thoroughly intrigued by the NLP methodology.

I had some skills and very few specific techniques, so I got very good at asking questions and exploring through feedback. In many cases this is the best way to learn something, as the distinctions formed through experience are the most persistent and personal type of learning. In this way, NLP becomes part of experience and part of life.

Experiencing NLP

Since NLP is a way of working and a way of looking at the world, a good way to begin is to start to notice many of the things that NLP training aims to make us more aware of.

Above all, approach this in a playful way. Have fun exploring the new world this opens out.

One thing about memory is that we tend to recall things when we’re in the same state in which we learned them.

So if you’re putting yourself under a bit of pressure, then stop…

Take a deep breath.

Take your mind back to the ‘where and when’ of that learning

and re-connect with it.

Playfulness and fun are two of the states we use a lot in the process of teaching NLP. This is one of the many reasons we do that.

NLP Awareness

Notice when people you know go in and out of states. Anchor the useful ones and test your work. Have everyone around you become more resourceful and motivated this way.

Be aware of the language used by people you meet every day, their tonality, rhythm and inflection. Practice matching those distinct unconscious elements in your communication to achieve better rapport.

Listen for metaprograms and filters and tailor your communication to bypass them.

Prepare, practice, calibrate and improve.

As for the many techniques, work on yourself, help out friends and family, coach colleagues. Above all, remain open to accepting sensory feedback throughout and draw useful distinctions.

NLP Development

Keep yourself open to learning and you will continue to develop. People tend to plateau because they’ve stopped learning. Their internal model of that area has crystallised and extraneous pieces are streamlined away.

While that is a healthy and natural process, you should bear in mind that if there’s still room for improvement, you may have crystallised your learning too soon. Fortunately, our unique teaching methods can reopen the learning process and build positively on this solid foundation.

The key distinction is that a model is not reality and rules can be made to flex, bend and even break constructively, forming new distinctions. Learning through experience is essential at this point, provided these experiences occur within a specific set of boundary conditions. And all in a playful way.

Practicing NLP

Look at the world. Pay attention to the people around you. Find excellent people and ask if you can model their skills. Be curious and enjoy asking thought-provoking questions and you’ll find that everyone does something really well.

If you ask yourself, ‘how can I use these skills to great effect in work/at home/in my pastimes,’ you will benefit greatly from understanding more about the people in the world around you.

I began my journey in a search for better means of communicating. I found a lot more than that. If you make the awareness and methods part of your life, you’ll never have to practice NLP.

Just enjoy your life.

A Challenge For The Year Ahead

Let me ask you a direct question: Isn’t it time to move your plans into action this year?

Think about all the plans you made for 2008. Which of those produced results – and which of those are still just plans?

For those of you who haven’t moved on, do you really want to be in this exact same position at the beginning of 2010? How would that feel?

You might tell yourself that a year can seem like a long time. One thing I do know is that time passes quickly when we idle away the moments.

And we can’t blame it on our fast-paced culture either. Failure to move into action is not a modern problem.

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply.
Being willing is not enough; we must do.”

– Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)

Listen to da Vinci. Information is not enough. Intent is not enough. There’s something fundamentally different about action which greatly outstrips mere knowledge or willingness.

Some of you might think that da Vinci sat around all day figuring things out. Far from it. He accomplished an immense amount in his lifetime.

So where is the problem and how do we solve it? How can you learn to move into action more of the time?

If you want to read on, go here:

2009 Challenge