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How Do I Stop Procrastinating When I’m Surrounded By Procrastinators?

How Do I Stop Procrastinating When I’m Surrounded By Procrastinators?


    I was meeting the new lady I’m dating at our local federal tax center before going out to dinner with her. This is because when it comes to filing her income tax returns, she’s a chronic procrastinator. This particular day was the deadline for filing tax returns and when we spoke just the night before, my lady friend revealed that she had not even started on her income tax yet.

    Because of her procrastination, she would have to get to one of those tax preparation services before work and pick up her completed return after the work day is over. The plan was to meet her at the federal tax office where she will be dropping off her completed return.

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    When I got to the building, the staff already set up huge bin containers in the lobby for people coming in to drop off their returns on deadline day. As I was sitting in the lobby waiting for my lady to arrive, I was actually quite shocked to see a steady, continuous stream of people coming in to drop off their returns.

    The staff told me that this would be the scene all through the evening until midnight when the deadline passes. So it seems that my lady is in good company of many procrastinators who also put off doing their taxes until last minute.

    Because procrastination is often a general habit, I’m willing to bet that these folks are major procrastinators in other areas of their lives besides just getting to their income taxes on time. And since many people are often surrounded by other procrastinators, the habit of putting off things they don’t like doing becomes quite contagious.

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    Some of the government staff actually joked to some of the public, “See you next year!”

    So this implies that the staff already knows that the procrastinators will likely repeat the same thing next year and make a frenzied run into the tax center just before the deadline.

    So if you can relate to this, you might be asking yourself, “How do I stop procrastinating?”

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    Solution To Procrastination

    Many productivity experts will suggest that a way to beat procrastination is to break up challenging tasks into little pieces. It is quite often easier to get little successes which will all add up over time to become a big success. Indeed this is helpful but I personally think that in order to really get over major procrastination, much more drastic measures must be taken.

    What I always suggest to procrastinators during my talks to audiences is to spend a bit less time around other procrastinators and instead, actively spend more time with people who are action takers. Like-minded people tend to motivate each other and if you get involved with the right group, you could end up with a few new friends who will be happy to constantly keep you in check.

    This is a secret weapon for many successful people who can’t afford to let procrastination creep back into their lives. They use such groups of other action takers to keep motivating them to push on. In fact, in many groups, people will go as far as helping each other keep accountable for their actions and more importantly, non-actions. Now that’s effective teamwork for success.

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    We see these types of interactions between people in high level sports teams as well as business groups (mastermind groups). People are there to push each other and get pushed to keep procrastination down to a bare minimum.

    Sometimes it costs membership fees to be in certain groups but if it’s the right group that can influence you to take action rather than procrastinate, the money is well worth it. I’m in such a group myself that costs me $2,400 per year to participate in (I do what I advocate here).

    So hopefully my new lady friend will start to procrastinate less if she hangs around more action oriented people. I’m sure that she doesn’t want to spend another year running around like a headless chicken during the income tax deadline.

    (Photo credit: Colleagues at Water Cooler via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on October 16, 2019

    Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

    Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

    Do you like making mistakes?

    I certainly don’t.

    Making mistakes is inevitable. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be at ease with them?

    Perhaps there is a way to think of them differently and see their benefits.

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    Why Mistakes Feel Dangerous

    Mistakes often feel dangerous. Throughout human history, our errors have often been treated as dangerous for a variety of reasons:

    • Our vulnerability. We have limited and fragile support systems. When those systems fail, people often lose their lives.
    • Real dangers. Nature can be dangerous, and making mistakes can put us at the mercy of nature and its animal residents seeking a meal.
    • Ignorance. Many cultures scapegoats someone whenever there is a failure of some kind. Scapegoating can be serious and deadly.
    • Order. Many societies punish those who do not conform to the prevailing orthodoxy and treat difference and non-conformity as a mistake. Even our brains flash an error message whenever we go against prevailing social norms.

    We have a history of handling mistakes and failure in an unpleasant way. Since each of us carries our human history with us, it can be a challenge to overcome the fear of making mistakes.

    If we can embrace the reality of mistakes, we can free ourselves to be more creative in our lives and dig up some interesting insights.

    Why We Can’t Avoid Making Mistakes

    Many people operate under the notion that making mistakes is an aberration, a mistake if you will. You can call it perfectionism but it is a more substantial problem. It is really a demand for order and continuity.

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    When we think we can eliminate mistakes, we are often working from a perspective that sees the world as a fixed place. The world, however, is not so obliging. Like it or not, the world, and everything in it, is constantly changing.

    Change is more constant and pervasive than we can see with our own eyes which is why we often miss it. Our bodies are constantly changing. The natural conditions of the earth change constantly as well. Everything, including economic and cultural systems have life cycles. Everything is in a constant state of flux.

    We cannot see all of the changes going on around us since rates of change vary. Unfortunately, when we try to create a feeling of certainty and solidity in our lives or operate from the illusion of stability and order, we are fighting reality and our natural evolution which is built on adapting to change.

    It is better to continually bend into this reality rather than fight every change we experience. Fighting it can cause us to make more mistakes. Finding the benefits in change can be useful and help us minimize unnecessary mistakes.

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    Lessons Learned from Making Mistakes

    Life has so many uncertainties and variables that mistakes are inevitable. Fortunately, there are many things you can learn from making mistakes.

    Here is a list of ways to harness the mistakes you make for your benefit.

    1. Point us to something we did not know.
    2. Reveal a nuance we missed.
    3. Deepen our knowledge.
    4. Tell us something about our skill levels.
    5. Help us see what matters and what does not.
    6. Inform us more about our values.
    7. Teach us more about others.
    8. Let us recognize changing circumstances.
    9. Show us when someone else has changed.
    10. Keep us connected to what works and what doesn’t work.
    11. Remind us of our humanity.
    12. Spur us to want to better work which helps us all.
    13. Promote compassion for ourselves and others.
    14. Teach us to value forgiveness.
    15. Help us to pace ourselves better.
    16. Invite us to better choices.
    17. Can teach us how to experiment.
    18. Can reveal a new insight.
    19. Can suggest new options we had not considered.
    20. Can serve as a warning.
    21. Show us hidden fault lines in our lives which can lead us to more productive arrangements.
    22. Point out structural problems in our lives.
    23. Prompt us to learn more about ourselves.
    24. Remind us how we are like others.
    25. Make us more humble.
    26. Help us rectify injustices in our lives.
    27. Show us where to create more balance in our lives.
    28. Tell us when the time to move on has occurred.
    29. Reveal where our passion is and where it is not.
    30. Expose our true feelings.
    31. Bring out problems in a relationship.
    32. Can be a red flag for our misjudgments.
    33. Point us in a more creative direction.
    34. Show us when we are not listening.
    35. Wake us up to our authentic selves.
    36. Can create distance with someone else.
    37. Slow us down when we need to.
    38. Can hasten change.
    39. Reveal our blind spots.
    40. Are the invisible made visible.

    Reframe Reality to Handle Mistakes More Easily

    The secret to handling mistakes is to:

    • Expect them as part of the process of growth and development.
    • Have an experimental mindset.
    • Think in evolutional rather than fixed terms.

    When we accept change as the natural structure of the world, our vulnerability and humanness lets us work with the ebb and flow of life.

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    When we recognize the inevitability of mistakes as part of the ongoing experiment which life is, then we can relax more. In doing so we may make fewer of them.

    It also helps to keep in mind that trial and error is an organic natural way of living. It is how we have evolved over time. It is better to be with our natural evolution than to fight it and make life harder.

    When we adopt an evolutional mindset and see ourselves as part of the ongoing human experiment, we can appreciate that all that has been built up over time which includes the many mistakes our ancestors have made over thousands of years. Each one of us today is a part of that human tradition of learning and experimenting,

    Mistakes are part of the trial and error, experimental nature of life. The more you adopt the experimental, evolutional frame, the easier it becomes to handle mistakes.

    Handling mistakes well can help you relax and enjoy all aspects of life more.

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    Featured photo credit: Sarah Kilian via unsplash.com

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