I can’t count the number of times I’ve started the day with the intention to live by one of Stephen’s Covey’s habits of highly successful people, which is: First Things First.
Did I stick to it? I don’t need to state the obvious, do I? Of course not.
So, what is it that keeps us procrastinating? Is it lack of knowledge? No. All procrastinators can tell you in a heartbeat what needs to be done. Is it an issue of time? No. All procrastinators have an amazing ability to do every other tiny, detailed, really important (but not necessarily effective) task first, and ensure it chews up all the time they have to actually get done what needs to get done. Is it a lack of decision making? No. We can soberly admit we decided to do anything but that thing that needed to be done. Is it a problem of clarity? What actually needs to be done? It may be a lack of clarity when the task seems overwhelming. You can’t see the whole job, all the steps, all the details, so we don’t even start.
So why do we subconsciously sabotage our time? It’s simply a bad habit. Simple to diagnose. Not so simple to change though. It’s something we did once so long ago we can’t even remember, and we did it again, and this pattern we repeated until it became a bad habit. The good news is we don’t have to be stuck with a bad habit, we just need to be intentional about “interrupting” that habitual behaviour whenever we catch ourselves not doing first things first, and then creating a new habit.
How do we create a new habit? For long-lasting, sustainable results that “stick”, we need to first create this good habit in our mind. Yes, in our mind, not in the outer world using will power. That doesn’t always last. Otherwise anyone who went on a diet would only do it once, but that’s not often reality.
How do we do it then? Here are 4 steps to create a new habit of First Things First, every day:
- Take 5 minutes out and do this quick exercise.
- Close your eyes. Breathe slowly and deeply and relax.
- Visualise carrying out this new good habit in a deep relaxed state, and then end the exercise with setting the intention to do first things first, till they’re done, just for today.
- To ensure success, repeat, repeat, repeat. If you do this for 30 consecutive days, by marking each day on a calendar, you will have eliminated, conquered and assassinated the procrastinator in you, for good. If you miss a day, get a new 30 day calendar and start again until you cross the 30 day threshold. If you first change your habit in your mind, you won’t have to try to do it in the outside world, it will be automatic behaviour. Why? Because all our behaviours are driven from our programming (our subconscious mind, our paradigm, our conditioning)….so write a new program and do first things first every day – in your mind. The next thing you need to master is how do I prioritise? Stay tuned to learn about prioritising with clear criteria that make you most effective.