By Nataly Kogan

How to stop procrastinating

Tags Happier Skills

Earlier this week I had a chance to take a break from Boston cold, snowy weather and spend a few days in Miami.

My husband and I went for lunch at a restaurant we love and caught up with Martinique, a waitress whom we'd there met last year.

Martinique is someone who dreams big. 

She told us about wanting to create an organic vegetable farm so she could make fresh juices and help people live healthier. 

She shared her awesome idea for a small, family-style Dominican restaurant she wants to open with her wife.

“I dream big and I know I could be good at whatever I choose to do next,” she said, “but I know I’m procrastinating. I am comfortable where I am and it’s like it’s keeping me from moving forward.”

If you have dreams, goals, or just things you want to do, but have a hard time actually moving from idea to the doing, you’re not alone.

So here’s what I told Martinique:

Just. Start.

Forget about making all the plans or thinking about all the details.

Just pick one of the goals and take a step towards it.

Every day, write down on your to-do list what specific thing you will do to take that step. And then at night, check in and see if you did it, what you learned, and identify the next steps for tomorrow.

It can be really daunting to think about something big you want to do or accomplish — and it’s easy for your brain to talk you out of it by focusing on all the things that could go wrong or might not work. (Your brain has a negativity bias and always focuses on what could go wrong as a way to protect you from possible danger.)

But you can think of one step you can take. And then do that step. 

And once you take it, you’re not the same person anymore.

You’re the person who has taken that step, and you’re beginning to tell yourself a different story.

“As you take the steps, you’re now someone who follows her doing, who is taking action,” I told Martinique. “You’re no longer the person who procrastinates.”

She was so energized and told me she was going to identify her one step after her shift was over (and I asked her to text me and tell me what it was!)

For your Awesome Human Practice this week, take one step towards a goal, big or small, that pulls at you. Make sure it’s something you really want to do vs. feel like you’re “supposed to do”. And once you take that step, identify the next one you can take tomorrow. And repeat.

Follow your doing.

The way to unleash your full awesome human potential and do the things that pull at you, that are really meaningful in some way, is to follow your doing.

The more steps you take, the more confidence you’ll have in where you’re headed, and the more your story about yourself will shift into one that fuels you to keep taking steps. (And your brain will help, since it loves a sense of progress!)

Next up: The most surprising productivity tip

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