How to Avoid a Life of Regret – Tip #2 – Control Procrastination

Now that we’ve learned that the first tip for avoiding regret is to Make Our Own Grass Green(er), it’s time to start implementing some simple strategies in our lives to do just that. This leads us to –

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Tip #2 – Learn to Control Procrastination

We hear the word – “procrastination” – a lot, but many of us have never taken the time to understand the power it can have in our lives, both good and bad. We all need to have discernment when it comes to procrastinating. Many of us unknowingly adopt the procrastinatory mantra- “why not put off today what we can do tomorrow?” Sure, that may be an effective philosophy, as long as what we’re putting off isn’t something vital that we should be doing today. But what if what we’re postponing IS vitally important to us?

In my coaching experience, I find that far too many of us neglect, deny and excuse doing what we should be doing today, and instead leave these things for tomorrow, or yet for some undetermined date in the future. Unfortunately, these crucial things that we neglect today may, in fact, never get done if we put them off to a future date. Even worse is the harsh reality that some of these crucial things we don’t take the time to do today while we have the opportunity, may never be attended to in the future. We might simply be missing our chance.

To be clear, let’s just make sure that we all really understand what “procrastination” is, as Webster’s defines it –

Procrastination – is the process or practice of putting things off intentionally and habitually.

Does this sound like you? Take a moment now and ask yourself the question – “Do I put off doing things intentionally or habitually?”And more importantly, “Am I putting off important things that I really need to be taking care of today?”

Can Procrastination Promote Wellness?

Truth be told, as an executive coach and wellness expert, I don’t have a problem with the concept of procrastination itself. In fact, I recommend it at times to some of my clients. As long as it’s practiced within the right context, I find that it can be key for promoting wellness, particularly as it relates to things like relaxation, productivity and success. Perhaps it may seem hard to believe, but in today’s fast-paced, hyperactive, overworked society, a little bit of procrastination (done right) may be “just what the doctor ordered.” Learning to put off the less important, non-crucial things until tomorrow or a later date, can be a very effective tool for promoting balance, wellness and success in a person’s life.

In actuality, some of us tend to fixate on small, unimportant or sometimes negative things, allowing them to dominate too much of our time. When this happens, we lose sight of the more urgent and essential items that we should be addressing. This is why it is so important to have clear and well-defined priorities when it comes to our personal and professional lives.

Procrastination that contributes to wellness – an example:

Here’s an example of something that should be procrastinated.

You make a point of staying up late most nights to catch up on recorded TV episodes on your DVR so that you can delete and record more – INSTEAD – of getting an adequate amount of sleep at night. This IS NOT a good priority or practice to have and will erode your wellness. The practice in itself is not bad on occasion. In this case, however, it would be much healthier to procrastinate to promote your own wellness. It may sound a bit trite, but a night of missed sleep is not something that can be recaptured as we’re all temporal beings and have a nightly need of roughly 7 to 9 hours to counter stress, be healthy and to maintain a proper body weight, among other things.

Procrastination that leads to Regret – an example:

Here’s an example of when procrastinating leads to regret.

You have a cherished relative who is elderly and not well. Because of your busy schedule, you keep postponing a visit until you “have more time.” You tell yourself that you’re going to go next weekend, but something always comes up. Once again, you procrastinate – putting off the visit for another week. Your cherished relative dies and you have yet to go visit her. Now, you find yourself at her funeral, wishing that you had taken the time out of your busy schedule to spend some time with her, but it’s too late. Now there’s only time for REGRET.

I could give example after example of both good and bad procrastination, but I think you get the picture. The key thing for us is to recognize it in our lives, make it work for us and not against us, which leads to regret. Use the following points to control it in your own life, so that it doesn’t grab hold of you.

5 Points to Ponder in Procrastinating:

  1. Make a list of your daily procrastinations and be honest. Try this for a week. It may shock you.
  2. If you’re going to procrastinate, do so over things that are tearing you down, instead of over areas that are crucial to your wellness, health and success.
  3. Put off the silly, unimportant, non-essential, non-crucial things to a time where other pertinent things don’t take precedent (as in the TV example above).
  4. Learn to prioritize your life on a daily basis, making sure you put the most important and crucial things at the top and the less important things towards the bottom. If you are forced to procrastinate over something due to time constraints, at least it will be over something at the bottom of your list and not the top.
  5. Procrastinating over issues involving family, faith, finances and wellness is a “No, No” and will most likely lead to regret. Make sure you attend steadfastly to these areas.

If you want to avoid a life of regret and make your grass greener, learn to control procrastination. Allowing it to go unchecked, in any area of your life, will most certainly cause regret. Your life will lack the discipline and the spark that it needs to be supercharged and successful. But, if you learn to recognize it and use it the right way, it may just help you to move in the right direction.

As always, feel free to leave comments. And if you need a coach to help you weed out your procrastinations, make priorities and a plan to thrive in life, feel free to contact me here.

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