“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.”
Aldous Huxley (Writer and Philosopher, Brave New World)
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
Abraham Lincoln (16th President of the United States)
“Your own self is such a treasure.”
Phylicia Rashad (Actress and Tony Award Winner, A Raisin in the Sun)
I told my piano teacher I had to go to the bathroom.
She excused me.
I scurried into the bathroom and locked the door behind me.
Then I jumped out of the window.
It was my last piano lesson.
I always wanted to play the piano.
I just couldn’t sit still long enough to learn.
So I gave up.
But not everyone gives up so easily.
Ludwig van Beethoven was one of the most prolific composers of all time.
A family friend taught him to play the piano.
From there, his career took off like a rocket ship.
By the end of his career, he had composed nine symphonies, thirty-two piano sonatas, one opera, five piano concertos, and many chamber works.
You’d think he never took a break.
That’s because he never took a break.
He used his breaks to think about his work.
Beethoven set out to become the best composer in the world and he worked unwaveringly towards that goal.
Beethoven sacrificed daily to achieve his long-term goals.
He got up every day at dawn.
Counted exactly 60 coffee beans.
Ground the beans up and drank them as coffee.
Then he worked until lunch composing his music.
After lunch, he took a four-hour walk with a pen and paper, harnessing his creativity and taking notes along the way.
Beethoven created this routine to force himself to work, but also to allow himself to be creative.
Instead of taking a break to get away from his work, he took breaks to get inspired to do more work.
He balanced forced work with allowed creativity.
Why Procrastination Is A Choice
The most successful composers in the world honed their skills for 10 years or more before being recognized as masters.
How did they stay motivated?
Was their success genetic?
A recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology shows that procrastination is partly genetic.
In other words, if your parents procrastinate, you’re more likely to procrastinate.
But this is only half the story.
Procrastination is also a habit.
The more you procrastinate, the easier it becomes to procrastinate.
You might be genetically predisposed to procrastinate but this doesn’t mean you have to accept laziness as your fate.
You still have control over your actions.
You still have control over your attitude.
A second study published in the International Journal of Psychology shows that positivity prevents mental exhaustion.
When people kept a positive attitude, they performed better on tasks.
The only way to achieve long-term success is to stay focused and positive.
Many people talk about figures like Beethoven, Da Vinci, and Mozart as examples of people achieving mastery.
But what they don’t talk about are the countless hours these masters spent in deliberate practice, forcing themselves to work and straining to increase their creativity.
Successful people make a choice to be great.
It doesn’t matter if you’re genetically predisposed to be short, fat, slow, and tired, you can still be great.
All you have to do is decide.
Why Procrastination Leads To An Unfulfilling Life
You have two choices in life.
Push daily to improve yourself or settle for mediocrity.
There is no third option.
Stop coming home from work and turning off your brain.
Stop wasting your time away watching mindless television, playing pointless games, or giggling at pictures of cats on the Internet.
Too many people live to do nothing.
They’re constantly searching for ways to do nothing.
These people tell themselves that they “deserve a break” or that “resting is healthy.”
Rest in terms of sleep, getting a massage, or going for a walk is healthy.
Playing Angry Birds and watching Friends reruns is not.
You do not need to play video games to recharge your brain.
Mindless activities do not recharge your brain.
They rot your brain.
When you turn mindlessness into a habit, you become average.
All of a sudden, twenty percent of your week is now “mindless time.”
This time adds up.
Twenty percent of your week is 34 hours.
That’s 34 hours a week you’re flushing down the toilet.
More than 136 hours a month.
Nearly an entire week’s worth of time each month—wasted.
Accomplishment is not a result of being mindless.
You can’t achieve great things by procrastinating more and more.
The only way to get what you really want in life is to stop being distracted and start being focused.
You have to make a decision to be a focused achiever, not a mindless quitter. Here’s how to start dealing with procrastination and to start focusing on your goals…
1. Stop setting limited goals.
You have false beliefs about what you can and can’t do.
You’ve been trained to believe that you don’t have the connections you need.
You’ve been trained to believe you don’t have the money you need.
You’ve been trained to believe you’re too old, out of time, and not talented enough.
These limitations are holding you back from achieving your full potential in life.
Other people are not responsible for these limiting beliefs.
Other people are not responsible for your self-doubt.
You’re limiting yourself.
The only way to break through these self-imposed limits is to set bigger goals and take on bigger challenges.
Setting goals that seem beyond your reach and in contradiction with these self-imposed limitations will force you out of your comfort zone.
Stretching yourself will force you to be creative, and do things you didn’t think were possible before.
When you set a goal that’s far beyond your current reach, you end up pushing your limits even if you don’t reach it.
Quit playing it safe.
Take a risk and set a giant goal.
One that scares you and fills you with energy.
2. Deconstruct your goals.
Rushing in and blindly attacking your goals is stupid.
Acting before you are ready is smart but acting without thinking is always foolish.
Most people see something they want and then start obsessing over it.
They obsess on WHAT they want but pay no attention to HOW they could actually obtain it.
This is a recipe for failure.
If you want to be successful in life, you must start considering HOW you’re going to achieve the things you want.
The most effective way to do this is to define your ultimate goal—the biggest goal related to WHAT you want—and then work backwards to achieve it.
Working backwards means deconstructing your end point.
Stop fantasizing only about WHAT you want and start mapping out HOW you’re going to get it.
Sit down and create a master plan for what it will take to achieve your goal.
Set a realistic but ambitious time frame in which you need to accomplish your goal.
Then plot out what you need to do every month, every week, and every day to make sure it happens.
3. Throw away your short-term goals.
Short-term goals hold you back from long-term goals.
When you focus on daily to-do lists and a weekly calendar, you distract yourself from the bigger things you’re trying to achieve.
Too many people obsess over their daily schedules, trying to pack as much as they can into every 24 hours.
These same people then go around telling all of their friends how “crazy busy” they are.
They complain and brag in equal parts as they spew out all the reasons they’re exhausted.
The real reason they’re exhausted is because they’re suffocating in their own short-term goals.
They let what’s happening to them today blind them to what they could make happen tomorrow.
These people can’t see one week ahead let alone one month or one year ahead.
Focusing on short-term goals is lazy.
Trickle-forward goal-setting is a weak strategy.
A much stronger strategy is to create a powerful vision for where you want to go in the long-term and to let that vision pull you forward.
4. Put your goals in black and white.
Everyone has a hundred things to do each day.
Everyone has a busy life.
If you’re using the excuse that you’re too busy to remember important dates, deadlines, or commitments, you’re sabotaging yourself psychologically.
“I’m too busy” is a ridiculous excuse.
When something is important enough, you’ll make the time for it.
When you miss commitments because you’re “too busy”, you communicate that you’re too dumb to manage your time.
You communicate that you’re too dumb to prioritize your activities correctly.
You tell the world that you’re unreliable and unorganized.
The only way to prevent the busyness from taking over your life is to prioritize your goals and activities on paper.
Creating a visual aid to hold yourself accountable for your future will keep you on track.
If you decide to take a break and do something mindless, your goals will be right there staring you in the face.
They’ll be right there in black and white reminding you that you’re a slacker.
5. Celebrate your goals now and later.
The best part of accomplishing a goal is celebrating it.
The problem is that most people forget to celebrate their goals.
They cry and complain for weeks, months and even years.
“I’ll never make it!”
“Life is so hard right now!”
“I want to quit!”
Then, when they persevere and finally achieve their goals, they say “That was easy—what’s next?”
As soon as they achieve one goal, they set a new goal.
As soon as they overcome one obstacle, they start looking for other obstacles.
Continuing to push yourself is important.
You should never stop growing.
You should never stop challenging yourself.
But you should celebrate your wins.
You should also celebrate your small wins on the way to winning big.
Start rewarding yourself for working towards your goals.
This is a great way to positively reinforce the process of setting big goals and working hard to achieve them.
Be honest with yourself.
You know when you deserve a reward and when you’re just being lazy or needy.
By celebrating both the process and the endpoints you achieve, you’ll maintain the positive attitude you need to keep moving forward. You’ll be less likely to procrastinate and less likely to engage in mindless activities. Instead, you’ll rise to greater and greater levels, and inevitably become the master you were meant to be. Being able to pace yourself towards a goal is not easy, but the self-discipline that comes with setting and achieving goals will serve you in all your pursuits.
To learn more about staying focused when you feel like slacking, and to get instant access to exclusive training videos, case studies, insider documents, and my private online network, get on the Escape Plan wait list.