All my life I have struggled with Procrastination. Faced with a daunting task like a presentation, I would prevaricate for hours searching for the ‘perfect powerpoint template’. A straightforward task would reach monstrous proportions! In fact, the Procrastination Monster set me back several weeks in writing this blog about how to deal with procrastination! Luckily I am a storyteller, so I have some storytelling tools up my sleeve to help me.
Do you want to kill your Procrastination Monster? Let me show you how.
1. A 12 year old’s view of procrastination
From a young age, the Procrastination Monster sought to keep me stuck. Desperate to master another monster in my life, Mathematics, I set my alarm to wake me at 4am so I could start my revision. My dad told me if I wrote in chalk the time I’d like to get up on my forehead, my subconscious mind would tell me to get out of bed. Sadly, the plan failed, my dilemma immortalised in a poem I discovered recently, penned by my 12 year old hand.
Tomorrow I’ll build a mansion or sail across the bay
I’ll do my maths, explore new paths, I’ll have a busy day
I’ll walk across the beach at 6, when thrice the cock hath crew
And I will read the holy creed. Yes that is what I’ll do!
But snores come from my room at 10, My brow is knit in sorrow
Forever I’ll procrastinate. Tomorrow and tomorrow!
Written by Katherine Ledger, aged 12
2. An adult view of procrastination; my storytelling solution
Last year I set up my business ‘Copy That Sells’ all about creating compelling marketing content for smaller businesses, through storytelling. Working as a Marketing Manager in the corporate world, I felt my creativity was stifled. So I cooked up a plan called ‘Project New Life’ all about starting a business which helps smaller companies captivate their customers with compelling content leading to important conversations and then to sales. I called that business ‘Copy That Sells’ and after many years of dreaming and planning, it’s just had its first birthday.
So yes, we can all rewrite our stories if we so choose. And the Procrastination Monster can be beaten in 5 manageable stages. Here’s how I am beating mine. Let’s do this thing together!
Killing my Procrastination Monster in 5 bite sized chunks
Stage 1 – Anticipation Stage and Call
All great battles must be planned in advance so my roadmap for the journey was Christopher Booker’s famous book ‘The 7 Basic Plots. Why we tell stories’. This argues that all situations in life fall into 7 archetypal stories. The first plot one, Kill the Monster exactly matched my dilemma.
In this underdog story, the hero (me) sets out to destroy an evil force in his/her life; in my case procrastination. Like Beowulf who goes on a journey to trounce the evil monster (actually 5 separate monsters) terrorising his local community, I accepted my call to kill my Procrastination Monster!
Action 1. Write a plan: I listed in my journal all the missed trips I had not taken, jobs I had stayed in far too long, paralysed by fear, I took up the challenge to attack and kill my monster. I set myself some daily, monthly, quarterly and annual goals to make my new business dream happen. I put it on my desk and on my bedside table and read it every day, as soon as I awoke and before I went to sleep.
Stage 2. The Dream
In the dream stage, the hero prepares to fight the monster while it is still a comfortable distance away, although the distance between the two is narrowing.
Action 2. Be deliberate. For me, this stage was a very painful one. I realised I would have to face head on a whole raft of bad habits if I was to confront and cut down my Procrastination Monster. I realised I must stop living my life in disaster mode, taking on too many tasks, always chasing my tail, doomed to failure. I must take an entirely different path as “master of my fate… captain of my soul”, writing those words on my soul, repeating them every day.
Stage 3. Frustration
In this stage, the monster has again grabbed me by the throat and kept in a perpetual state of inertia. The monster’s power is revealed in all its terrible glory, and it looks like I (the hero) am in this situation way over my head.
Action 3. Be disciplined. Decide to keep going and grasp hold of the calling which made you start in the first place. Depict the treasures which await at the end of the journey on a vision board. Take them to heart. Then take a step (however small) to get to your destination, ever day. Hopes turn into plans which make dreams become reality.
Stage 4. The Nightmare
I fall victim to the same vicious cycle which keeps me stuck every time. I oversleep, don’t exercise, see friends or have fun anymore. I am trapped in a living nightmare.
This is the stage where I decide enough is enough. Do I want to look back on my life at the opportunities I have passed up, the dreams I have let die? Surely it is better to try and fail, rather than never try at all?
Action 4. Re-energise, reward and regroup. Here I reintroduce balance into my life, taking time out to rest and reward myself for milestones I have passed. I create a cohort of like-minded business owners in local business networks. I realise I am part of a much bigger plan, which we are all routing for. We pick off the Monster’s army one by one. I realise we are all part of a much bigger plan to kill our own breed of Monster and be successful business people. We are stronger together than apart.
Stage 5. The Thrilling Escape from Death and Defeat of the Monster
In this stage, the Monster is defeated and I (the hero) emerge victorious and win the treasure and a kingdom to rule over (I become Master of my own destiny).
This stage represents my first successful year in business as ‘Copy That Sells’, with clients who actually want to pay me for crafting more meaningful content which will entice their dream customers to their door.
Action 5. Just do it. Watch Prince EA’s inspirational video “It’s not death most people are afraid of, it’s getting to the end of our lives to realise we have never truly lived”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-sl2w6Saqk
In the words of Muriel Rukeyser, the Universe is made of stories not atoms. They are how we make sense of the world; our brains are hardwired for stories. The ‘Kill the Monster’ story is helping me overcome Procrastination and make Project New Life (my new business venture) materialise.
I am glad I left my ivory tower to overcome what was holding me back. Next time I will show you how you use the kill the monster story to help your clients overcome what is keeping them awake at night and save the day. Let’s kill the monster preventing us having the life we want. It’s actually our weaker selves we are overcoming. Watch this space. There is treasure for the taking!