Many successful writers have talked about incredible ways to prioritize our tasks, organize our days, and get the best out of our time by focusing on what is truly important for our success in life.

All this makes a lot of sense and even sounds wise.  Many of us try to apply it to our lives in an attempt to become better human beings and professionals; however, there is one little, or maybe not so little, thing called procrastination.

An important part of the active population of the world suffers from procrastination, a condition that makes us ignore behaviors and actions that could enhance our lives and change them for the better.  In order to get over this condition, one must find its root, which in many cases seems to be fear.  Some studies have established that there are three aspects that influence procrastination:

–    Confidence in oneself, an issue guided by fear
–    The need for immediate fulfillment, due to early programming
–    Impulsiveness, trait of immature behaviors designed to meet early needs

Basically, it is different for each person; it depends on his or her upbringing and how he or she has developed ways to fulfill his or her basic human needs.

As a child, Susan commonly felt she had no power over her controlling father; thus, she procrastinated to feel in control and to feel free.  Eventually, Susan learned a different and positive way to feel powerful, but this was only possible after she identified where the problem was.   

Roger is a senior executive at a marketing firm.  At one point he was so overwhelmed by work that when his boss asked him to handle a new assignment he became extremely anxious.  He was so scared of not being able to do it right that he just avoided the project. He procrastinated.

People mistakenly confuse procrastination with laziness; however, laziness does not encompass a dose of guilt, while procrastination makes the person feel extremely guilty, and he or she punishes him or herself.  It eventually becomes a vicious cycle, because the more the person punishes himself or herself, the more they procrastinate, and the more they procrastinate, the more they punish themselves, leading to a complete self-esteem crisis.

The good news is that there is a way out of this negative behavior, and here we show you 4 steps to get you there:

1.    You have to recognize that procrastination is not something you ‘caught’ yesterday.  You have to be willing to go deep into your life to find the root, and a good way to start is to try to identify when it started affecting you.

2.    You have to allow yourself to act in spite of the emotion.  You can have negative feelings, everyone does, but the difference lies in whether you let those feelings rule your behavior or not.  We shouldn’t let emotions guide our actions, but we commonly do, especially when there is fear or guilt involved.

3.    You can start small.  Think of what you could do, a small task, that would get you started and out of procrastinating.  It can be the smallest thing.  Let’s say you have been neglecting cleaning the attic.  You can start by making a list of everything you remember is in storage there, next, think of what you would like to do with some of the stuff; maybe you would like to give some furniture pieces to your daughter, or donate a box of books to your community’s elderly home.  

4.    You have to be aware of distractions.  These can control you if you don’t control them.  Honestly think about what distracts you from acting on your goals. It could be something like checking your inbox, soap opera time, or playing solitaire to ‘relax’, only you know what excuses you make up.

Each small step you take will make you feel stronger and better, and if you can imagine how good it will feel to get there, you can certainly get motivated to complete the task.

Maybe the most important thing is to learn to forgive ourselves.  We are human beings, and when we have to overcome a condition such as procrastination we have to understand that it takes time to heal and that we deserve to be kind to ourselves.  

Now you are ready to start your journey; do not waste another second! Get going and start living!

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Thirty years as a successful corporate executive and entrepreneur have given John Hersey a unique perspective on human behavior, leadership, motivation and change. This foundation allows him to offer speaking, coaching, and consulting programs that are rich with content and packed with actionable fresh insights. He knows about leadership because that is exactly what he has done throughout his career-lead organizations and teams.

John Hersey is the author of Finding and Keeping Great Leaders—CEO’s Explain How Corporate Culture Shapes Potential Leaders. His first book, Creating Contagious Leadership, identifies his low-cost, high-return formula. The benefits of his programs are powerful, and include truly engaging the audience to grow and develop their skills in the fields of customer service, teamwork, communication, and leadership.

As active Volunteers and Philanthropists, John Hersey and his wife, Beverly Belury, actively support the McKenzie Monks Foundation, which helps kids cope with cancer, Junior Achievement, The Fountain Hills Chamber of Commerce, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Scottsdale, where he has served as a speech mentor to the Youth of the Year contenders for the past three years.
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