Conventional wisdom tells you that you need to exert willpower to push through procrastination and laziness, but is that the best approach? I have found the best way to overcome procrastination is to partner up with someone. Whether they are your accountability partner, mastermind member, or as I refer to in my book, your charge partner.
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Use only in emergencies
By building a consistent process, you can reserve your willpower for emergencies. It is best to save your willpower for emergencies because it is an exhaustible resource. You don’t want to exhaust your willpower before the day is over, so by using an accountability partner with a proven process… you will be able to navigate the day to day.
From penthouse to outhouse
Professional athletes such as Charles Barkley and Mike Tyson were legends in their prime and the epitome of discipline. Once they retired, they lost their muscle and gained a significant amount of weight. When calculating what has changed, the most obvious answer is they don’t burn thousands of calories playing sports anymore. While this is true, the often overlooked aspect is the fact that they lost their team of coaches and trainers.
When an athlete doesn’t feel like practicing or training, they have a coach to help hold them accountable to the required schedule. The athlete can also exert some motivation from the fact that their paycheck is dependent on their ability to perform at a high level.
Once an athlete retires, they lose their coaches, the pension check is guaranteed and their second career doesn’t usually require the same physical discipline. As a result, the athlete loses all forms of accountability except themselves. As a result, within a few months the athlete has gone from physical specimen to physical tragedy.
Procrastination is a slow drift in the wrong direction
Each year you set a resolution to change something in your life. You start off on a good note and put together an impressive couple weeks. Then you wake up late and don’t have time for your normal routine. The day gets away from you and you plan on doubling up the next day. Then the next day arrives and you woke up with enough time for one workout, but not enough time for two. You ponder whether you should do one workout or two for 30 minutes and now you don’t have time to workout at all. As silly as it sounds, I am sharing personal experiences, so I know that it happens.
Before you know it, you have built a habit of not working out and your momentum is pushing you in the wrong direction. To set myself up for success, I need to wake up at 5am to make sure I workout and create the necessary content for the day. If procrastination sets in and ‘i wake even an hour later, I don’t have enough time to accomplish anything except getting the girls ready for school. By the time I drop them off and get into my regular day of work, I don’t have the time to complete my personal objectives for the day.
Accountability is your friend
A big part of my difficulty waking up early has been my unwillingness to go to sleep at night. By the time I put the girls to bed, I start working on the business and get into a groove. Then it is hard for me to stop what I’m doing and go sleep. This would sometimes have me up at the time I should be waking up for the next day. My wife is my charge partner when it comes to going to sleep at a good time. She normally goes to sleep before me, so if she wakes up for water in the middle of the night and I’m still awake, I know I am in trouble.
I had to learn that I was staying up at night because of procrastination throughout the day. If you get your work done first thing each day, you don’t have to be up late at night trying to finish everything.
End procrastination thought automation
If you want a certain result in your life, you need to put the people and systems in place to hold yourself accountable. When you see these professional athletes losing their edge when they retire, it only shows the difficulty of disciplining ourselves for a long period of time. That is why you want to work on creating the process early. Once you have the process, you can save your discipline and willpower for the unexpected situations. Reason being, if you perform the same tasks daily, you it becomes a part of your subconscious routine, no longer requiring discipline to perform (like riding a bike). It is the conscious decisions that require discipline.
Assemble accountability groups
Masterminds are a great way for you to create accountability on a weekly basis. If you have a weekly accountability meeting, you are going to make sure you have your work done for the next check in. Even if procrastination sets in during the week and you must stay up all night to get something done, you will still be able to achieve something. Ideally, you will reflect on the stress procrastination caused you and you will promise yourself to take small steps each day the next week.
This is part of the reason I don’t recommend monthly check-ins in the early going. You don’t want to stay up all night trying to do a month’s work in one night. Needless to say that is not going to get you the result you want.
Recognize accountability is a way of life
Accountability is something that is already present; we just don’t always notice it. I remember when my parents would come visit me in college and I would clean up the entire apartment. I wanted them to know that I was being responsible and didn’t need them to tell me what to do. The same is also true with those guys who suck in their guts when they are walking on the beach and an attractive woman walks by. They want the woman to think they are in shape and they know their body doesn’t look the part.
As silly as these examples are, they exhibit the power of accountability in every day life. I knew my apartment needed to be cleaned and the person walking on the beach knew they should be in better shape. Yet, immediate action was driven by someone whose opinion mattered to you. The magic of accountability is your desire to maintain a certain image that others have of you. You want people to respect the value you bring and you want them to think highly of you.
Social media can work too
For those who don’t have someone they feel a direct accountability link between, you may want to use social media as your charge partner. Even though you don’t have any one person that can motivate you, having a couple hundred people expecting you to keep your word will do the trick. Some of you may be thinking this is a lot of work to get results, but if you have tried to accomplish a goal on your own, you know this is necessary. We just have the ability to procrastinate fairly easily when we are rationalizing inaction to ourselves.
Sharing your goals and aspirations
By simply talking about your plan and goals out loud, you will receive a benefit. There is magic in hearing yourself explain your goals and aspirations.
It’s like you’re putting it out into the world and it allows others to help you. They will think of you when they see something that has to do with your stated goal. That is what happened with me when my wife went to the grocery store. She knew I was working on happiness and when she was checking out, she noticed an issue of Time Magazine, titled, The Science of Happiness. Its little things like this that happen when you have a clear vision and share your goals with people.
Do you have someone holding you accountable? If you don’t and you have not accomplished your goals yet, then I encourage you to make the change. Make sure you are being honest with your charge partner. It is the only way they can help you hold yourself accountable. Share your dreams, aspirations, failures, and accomplishments on a regular basis with your partner as you continue to chase happiness and rise to the challenge.
Until next time,
Dre “Better Self, Better Wealth” Griggs