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Small Business Spoiler - Procrastination

One of the most common issues that comes up for business owners is procrastination -wasting time, putting obstacles in the way of taking action towards goals, making excuses for delays, creating confusion/busyness etc. Procrastination is a self-defeating behavior.

I believe that as human beings, we are adept in creating convincing language that allows us to rationalize an action or non-action to ourselves and others. We become masterful in presenting a logical sounding viewpoint that successfully defends our position to procrastinate. In this way, we give ourselves permission to step into avoidance, despite the results we say we want!

Having a game plan with action steps can foster procrastination. Over time we develop an automatic patterned response to change, convinced that what we are doing is moving us forward. In reality, we're just playing the same old game, creating the illusion of moving forward. Bottom line ? get real, get honest with yourself.

As a small business owner do you:

1. Keep saying you're going to do something and don't follow through? Saying one thing and doing something else? The intended action continues to exist in the future as a goal, always out of reach without being fully actualized. The dangling carrot.

2. Prioritize other things first before you can get to what you say you really want? Somehow the starting time keeps getting pushed back. Are you a yesbutter? Yes, I want this but.. Yes I'm excited to get going on this, but? yes but?, yes but

3. Overextend (over commit) so much of your time you never quite get to some things because you're too busy? Some people think scheduling is just a time management problem. In actuality, it's about making better decisions in how you allocate your time. What do you always manage to fit in despite all the busyness?

I could go on citing examples.

Working with more than 1500 people over the last 17 years, I have often found fear at the root of procrastination. Fear of failure/success, change, unknown, can be power-full drivers to avoid taking action. The first hurdle to address may be in recognizing patterns of procrastination. People can become so proficient in rationalizing avoidance they lack the clarity to see the creative forms of this behavior. Furthermore; self-defeating behavior is caused by self-defeating attitudes. Identifying internal attitudes and assumptions is a key element in fully dismantling self-defeating behavior.

Common objections to justify procrastination:

1. I can't! I'm too fearful! I'm not strong enough! Is that really true? (Or is this your drama?) Can't??? Try won't ? life is about making choices.

2. I can't afford to! How often do you use money as an excuse to deny having something you need? Is there a cost to you to NOT take action? If there is a cost, at what point is the cost too high a price to pay? Consider short/long term value for a questionable investment.

3. I don't have time! How much time is needed to take one step? What changes can you make to open up some time?

4. Now is not a good time! It's not the right time! When is? What would the right time look like?

5. I'm not ready! What needs to change for you to become ready? What does being ready look like?

6. It's too hard/too big! What smaller steps or ways of looking at it will make it more manageable/attainable? What support/help is available?

Procrastination means you never have to commit to an action, make a mistake, fail/succeed, take a stand on reaching a goal (take responsibility to make things happen) change your life or yourself. You may make some progress, but continue to hold yourself back. Progress occurs at a controlled, manageable pace, enough to keep you interested and wanting more - but always short of reaching your heart's full desire. Like eating fast food vs. sitting down to a feast.

Are you a procrastinator? How is procrastination impacting your business success?

Consider the following questions:

  • What are the mechanisms/reasons/excuses you use to block your success? ? i.e. overpromising/underdelivering, time management, poor marketing, negative self-talk?
  • What do you tell myself (and others) to make your procrastinating behavior, okay?
  • Have you really made the decision to be successful?
  • What beliefs do you have about success? Are they true?
  • How will your life change if you change this behavior?
  • Who will you become if you change this behavior?

In the book, Get Out Of Your Own Way, the authors, Mark Goulston, MD., and Philip Goldberg say " There are, of course, many reasons why people procrastinate: self-doubt, boredom, fear of failure, the feeling of being unready or unprepared and so on. But these feelings by themselves don't necessarily lead to procrastination. Often, what tips the scales is going through them alone, with no one to help you, bolster you, or cheer you on."

How to stop procrastinating?

1. The first step is to make a decision to have the success you want. Say "yes!"

2. Then create the vision you want in detail ? paint a picture that excites you to move towards achieving that result. You must have a good marketing/business plan!!!! This is your road map to success.

3. Begin identifying your action steps and break them down into small steps with timelines.

4. Design a defensive strategy to deal with your procrastination. Define concrete actions. ie. You have warm business leads but don't make the calls. One suggestion ? make it a game so that making calls might be fun. Be creative.

5. If you're a solo-entrepreneur, being a part of a network is critical so you don't become isolated.

6. Join a mastermind group or form one.

7. Need more help to stay motivated and on track? HIRE A COACH!

One thing I've come to know is that people put time and energy into what they love - what's most important to them. I've watched people move mountains, jump over hurdles for something they love ? total buy-in. I know when I'm working with a procrastinator or with someone who really wants to move by what they are willing to do and unwilling to accept to get what they want. People who are ready to take action are too excited to wait and are willing to commit to whatever action is needed to reach their goals. If you keep pushing your dreams away by continuing you love affair with procrastination?..it's your life, it's your choice.

Copyright 2003, Lorraine Cohen


Lorraine Cohen of Powerfull Living is a Business Coach and Life Strategist and Team Member of Solo-E.com. Integrating her therapy background with coaching, she helps people make more money, manage their time, increase self-assurance, resolve inner conflict, stay focused on the results they want, and balance work and home life.


***** Find more articles like this at http://www.Solo-E.com ? Keeping Solo Entrepreneurs Juiced in Business and in Life. Our team of Solo Entrepreneurs are comprised of small business experts who support others in finding business success with the flexibility and freedom to have a life, too. Network with other freelancers, self-employed and Solo Entrepreneurs in our forums, enjoy our articles and newsletter, and find other online training opportunities. *****

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