“If you can’t you must and if you must you can.” – Anthony Robbins
Life gets busy. No matter what your situation there’s a good chance that you‘d appreciate just a few more hours each day or each week to get those things done that seem to have been hanging around on your to do list forever. The reality is though, that those lingering things tend to be the tasks that we really don’t want to do. Chances are that even if we did have a few extra hours a day tasks such as decluttering the garage or basement, cleaning the fridge or organizing our tax paperwork would still be hanging out on the list in spite of our best intentions to check them off.
It’s human nature to make time for things that give us pleasure and to procrastinate on doing the things that don’t – that’s why in my house there’s always time for reading and never time for laundry! The trouble is that, often the things we procrastinate on are the tedious but necessary things that make life flow more smoothly when they’re taken care of and all too often those things are related to money.
Gail Vaz Oxlade’s Money Rule #94 is Stop Procrastinating. Whether it’s taking the time to properly review your finances, update your will, starting an education savings plan or calling your credit card company to negotiate a better rate, by procrastinating on the things you need to do you’re short-changing yourself and your financial future. Gail asks the question “WHEN will you take the step you’ve been meaning to take for… how long has it been?” and so this week I’m taking a look at the question: what are you procrastinating on in relation to finances and why?
Face the Elephant
What’s the elephant in the room when it comes to your finances? The thing that you know you really should look at in more detail but you just can’t make yourself. Awareness is a powerful thing. When you’re aware of something that needs to be changed you put yourself in a position where you can develop an action plan to address and resolve it. Just like the monster under the bed, sometimes we put off looking at something purely because we’re nervous about what we might find but mostly, when we pluck up the courage to throw off the blanket and face it, the “monster” is nowhere near as scary as we thought it was. Why not make a commitment this week to face your elephant? You’ll likely be surprised to find it’s not as bad as you imagined and if it does turn out to be as bad (or worse) at least you’ll have the awareness that will allow you to take the action necessary to vanquish it.
Set a Date
If there are tasks on your to-do list relating to finances then why not just set a date to deal with them? Make that date sooner rather than later in order to reduce the chances that you’ll just keep on procrastinating. Brian Tracy’s book “Eat the Frog” suggests that if “eat a frog” were on the list of things you had to do each day then instead of procrastinating (and dealing with the dragging feeling in the pit of your stomach caused by the knowledge that at some point during the day you had to eat the frog) you should just make it the first thing that you do. Not only does this get the worst task out of the way but everything else on your list is so much easier to tackle in comparison that you breeze through it in no time. So, no matter how frog-like your task might be, just commit to getting it taken care of and stick to your plan!
Once you've committed, don’t let yourself be distracted. There will be countless other things that are way more interesting/exciting/straightforward to tempt you but keep focused on how good it will feel when you've finally checked that item off your list and don’t let yourself get off track until it’s complete. Once you've completed it, try to ‘snowball’ the exuberance that you feel and challenge yourself to get one more thing off your list – compared to the “frog” you just ate in getting the first task done, the second task will seem like a breeze and if you can get it checked off your list too you’ll feel even better about your accomplishments!
Whether it’s work, life or finances, procrastinating can make simple things hard and tough things tougher. Getting into the habit of committing to a plan and following through not only increases your productivity, it also decreases stress and boosts success.