It’s easy to start off strong. In the beginning we’re fueled by the sparks of inspiration that motivated us to begin the project. But what happens when these initial sparks die down? Will they have been strong enough to create a sustainable fire? Strong enough to withstand the winds of life that come to blow us off-track? It’s easy to set aside a new project until “tomorrow” when we have more time and are less stressed, but often one day turns into two, two into three, and so on. After weeks of doing nothing, how can we get back on track?
The short answer: Just do it.
The long answer: Honestly, just do it.
You know you’re putting it off. You know you’re procrastinating. In fact, instead of reading this article, just go and do whatever it is that you’re putting off.
What’s Keeping You from Getting Back on Track?
If you’re still here (I hope you’re not), let’s think about some things that might be preventing you from “just doing it” so that hopefully you can overcome them and rekindle your flame.
1. Lack of Time
Oh, the common woe of there’s not enough hours in the day. Excuses. Your issue isn’t a lack of time, but rather a lack of priorities. If the project isn’t important enough to replace that episode of Netflix or that evening bath, than maybe you shouldn’t be pursuing it. As Mark Manson says, what are you willing to sacrifice and struggle for? Sometimes life does get crazy and we need a few days off, but if this turns into a few weeks or months, than maybe your goal just isn’t that important to you.
2. Lack of Mindfulness
Our dog brain (as Manson calls it) prefers immediate pleasure over long-term gains. Be conscious of your choices. Next time you procrastinate on your project, do it consciously. Take a moment to breathe and think about what you’ll be losing versus gaining by procrastinating. Imagine yourself at the completion of your project, how good it will feel. It’s hard to procrastinate consciously, because normally logic will win over and we’ll end up working on the project.
3. Lack of Planning
Long-lasting fires have a solid structure. You don’t just throw the wood on willy-nilly and hope it works. You plan it out, starting with kindling, adding some larger logs on top, and making sure it has room to breathe. Same goes for projects. Take some time in the beginning to build a solid schedule to keep you on track. Start with baby steps and leave the larger pieces until later when you’ve built up solid momentum. Finally, leave room for yourself to breath. Don’t take on too much at once to the point where you burn out (while this article was written for college students, its useful for anyone who tends to take on too much at once). It may be time to take a deep breath and try to rebuild the fire better this time around.
4. Lack of Accountability
If you know you tend to get off-track, then set yourself up for success. Have that schedule ready that I mentioned in the previous point and have solid checkpoints to measure your progress. Recruit a friend or family member to check in with you every so often to see how the project is coming. Potentially even set up consequences and rewards for yourself based off how well you do. For example, there’s apps such as stickK that will donate money to an anti-charity if you don’t stick to your goals.
This article is me rekindling my fire. I hadn’t posted an article since September (almost two whole months-yikes!). My priorities got all mixed up during October and, despite having the time of my life, I forgot my future goals. My initial momentum for this blog had disappeared; the thought of taking time out of my fun-filled life to sit down and write a blog post seemed like an enormous chore. I told myself that I was too busy and that I didn’t have time, but somehow I spent hours on surfing the web and scrolling through social media. The final straw was when I realized I’d binge-watched 3 seasons of Game of Thrones, but still hadn’t touched my blog. My dream was stuck in a closet gathering dust for no reason but poor excuses.
When I pulled out my laptop to watch Game of Thrones an hour ago, instead of pressing play on the next episode, I told myself I had to open up my blog- just open it. No more, no less. So I did. Then I clicked “start new post” and these past 700 words flew onto the page in the time it would have taken me to watch that episode. I knew that by opening up my blog and taking that first step to getting back on track I had made the next step of actually writing a blog post that much easier, but had I initially told myself I had to write an entire blog post I would have shied away.
Just take that first step. Even if it doesn’t seem like much, it makes the next step that much easier.