Are you a procrastinator?
I meet way too many people that are almost happy to “be a procrastinator.” For some, they almost wear it as a badge of honour.
Rarely is procrastination something to be proud of. More often, it’s cost you more than you realise. IF I was to tell you I lost $70,000 in the last month and I could put most of it down to procrastination, what would you say that says about me?
Of course, I’m being harsh. Purposely so, I want you to learn from my mistakes. I also want you to apply this to your business!
Could Procrastination be Costing You a Happy Retirement?
Many, if not most of us, procrastinate from time to time. But chronic procrastination is growing, rapidly. With more distractions, social media and the rise of mobile devices, the emergence of on-demand movies and shows through Netflix and the like, the distractions have never been higher.
Imagine a School leaver, addicted to live gaming… Anyone with a Teenage boy can see the temptation, yet we easily write off as harmless the ‘less intrusive’ distractions we all have.
Simply: to protect ourselves (or at least our ego). Let’s explain this with the four main types of procrastination and how they relate to how we see ourselves in the world.
1. Self Handicapping
Here we put off starting a deadline project so that we can claim any shortfall in performance was due to time pressure.
2. The Adrenalin Junkie/Martyr
We take on so many projects because we ‘eat pressure for breakfast’ and the Martyr, of course is trying to please everybody. Both leave themselves little time to perform well. With so many projects on, any shortfall is explainable to this core challenge, I am just soooo… busy.
3. The Perfectionist
Do you find that you keep refining, improving the project, often long after deadlines have passed as you need to make sure everything is absolutely beyond criticism. If you don’t release the results/project, it can’t get criticised.
4. The Imposter
The imposter says I could never do that. So why bother starting the project/journey. If we never do it, we can be criticised and of course, we always can hold onto the dream that we could succeed if we only got on with it.
Ultimately, at the heart of all the reasons for procrastination, is a desire to deflect criticism. We want to protect our ego, and maintain the comfort of the whatever we picture is our place in the world. Better to stay comfortable now, than risk drawing unwarranted attention.
One Brain – Two Systems
One part of the brain lives in the here and now, with no concept of time or responsibility. It’s called the Limbic system. It knows how to have a great time, and thrives on fun and happiness (in the moment). The other part of the brain is your strategic planner, the pre-frontal cortex. It’s great at planning, prioritising and knocking off those long term jobs. The challenge is, to get there, any idea has to pass the limbic system. If the limbic system doesn’t see the rewards as being greater than the effort, ie: it’s not fun NOW, the danger is your project could get hijacked.
This occurs because of the premium, the limbic system has an immediate return of investment. When the prefrontal cortex can’t explain how the long term benefits outweigh the immediate loss of fun, and there is a high premium on fun now for the limbic system, it will hijack any project with something that is more fun now.
How I lost $70,000
After building a marketing campaign last year and putting in the effort, I attracted a good number of right prospect. Check.
The engagement helped a high percentage see that our mentor program is beneficial and can help them get where they want faster through accelerating the growth of the business. Check
The prospects even committed, saying “I want in.” Check.
Sale made right… Check – Oh wait, not yet, I lost seven of these ‘committed’ prospects, all for $10,000 programs… Sad Face.
Was this procrastination?
To me, yes.
It was a project I knew was coming.
I knew the components needed to be built, but like the adrenalin junkie, I kept taking on other projects, some that were definitely not as pressing and should have been given a lower priority.
I didn’t prioritise sufficiently, I did other stuff that I was more comfortable with, and the cost – losing seven ‘committed’ prospects.
Can I improve – YES!
And I will.
Completing the onboarding process is a high priority for me – now.
I’ve identified it as a critical tool to deliver better customer success and retention of committed clients and I am committed to systemising this challenge within the business.
Can I recover that $70,000 – Well, no. It’s an expensive lesson, BUT, a lesson that will pay for itself time and again as I implement the process I know I need to make.
And how many prospects have I had in the past that have said yes, and later changed their mind before starting? Wouldn’t these situations also be minimised if we implement a better process? Of course, and it took $70,000 all at once to highlight the problem.
As much as the $70,000 hurts, it’s actually much worse as experience from the past suggests that some of those clients would have continued beyond the initial period and lasted at least 12 months to two years. The real opportunity cost could be as high as $200,000.
I’m not letting procrastination win, and I hope you choose to learn from my mistakes too.
Do You have unfinished projects hiding in your to do list?
I did a survey a while back, I asked 50 small business owners this question, some laughed hysterically, a little embarrassed and suggested too many to count, others fell silent and only three said – “Nope, I’m on top of it!”. One of those guys recently moved to the states as he’d attracted a client that took his business international.
If you’re with the 94% who have the odd project lying around, accountability is the key.
You’ll need to do a little homework, recognise how your project is good for you and not just why. It’s critically important to help your internal systems duke it out properly.
Would you like some help with that?
It’s the start of the year, so if you’d like a team helping you, looking after you and keeping you on track. If you’d like to make a greater impact on your business. More time, more Clients, More money from your efforts. The “Reboot – The 28 Day Challenge” is just what you need.
You have the passion for your business, we have a process to help you get unstuck and to help you move forward.
A support team to encourage you help with and hold you to your project…
Think about the lost revenue, after all the effort you make in marketing, what is that project really worth? How many clients are you missing out on, and what would they actually spend over a lifetime?
To find out if Reboot – the 28 Day Challenge is right for you, I’ve produced a Procrastinators Guide to getting started!