As much as I prefer to start off my articles with a positive message, such as “Be Proactive”, sometimes leading with a negative statement gathers more response. So, on this occasion, I will make an exception.
In our personal and business lives, procrastinating can lead to many negative outcomes. Being too busy to schedule that dentist appointment is eventually painful. Waiting until the last minute to book that flight can be expensive. Putting off implementation of an internal system due to having to face the pain of change is simply unintelligent.
So, why do we do this? Why do we still procrastinate? Even though we know all of the positive outcomes achieved simply by being proactive, so many of us still surrender to this internal battle of “the pain of later” vs. “the pain of now”. Why is it that when we know if “A=A”, we still choose “B”?
I will for now refer to one reason being the following: Nurture. If it is something we have been taught or experienced since an early age, it is a harder habit to break. Whether it be eating habits we know are bad, or putting off those exercise we know will better our mood, health and our overall well-being. Breaking through that mental block of getting rid of an old habit is difficult.
This past weekend, I watched one of the parts of the four part documentary on aptly named “The Weight of the Nation” http://theweightofthenation.hbo.com/. This eye-opening documentary touched on how eating habits we were taught at a young age are difficult to break. Surprising? Not really. Surprising only that the habits that were created for most of those affected by weight, were due to what was around for them to eat, and the inaccessibility of proper places to gain physical exercise. What the schools were feeding their children at an early age was one problem. Children in inner cities not having enough places to safely get exercise was another. Creating a habit of healthy eating and exercise is not all the fault of the individual and the family, but in reality part of a much bigger problem.
Because addressing positive habit forming principles starts at a much higher level than we can imagine, it is important bringing out the real reasons why we created these habits in the first place, and address that in the beginning. Trust me, because “it is always what I have done in the past” is not the answer you want to give.
Change is difficult and creating new habits requires repetition (thus, making something “habitual”). Not waiting to take the first uncomfortable step against all we have known in the past? That is the real challenge.