No, I’m not talking about high-fiving your colleagues as you walk into the office, although that is great. I’m talking about the 5 goals you set for yourself to accomplish on Monday. I call these “High Fives” because they should be tougher goals to achieve or goals you perceive as tough.
Now this is coming from an expert procrastinator. It’s true. I have been a successful procrastinator my entire life. Most people in my work life would be surprised by that; but, my good friends, well, they know the real story. Luckily, I am someone who works very well under pressure and can ultimately meet a deadline with good results.
However, as I got older and things got more serious, I noticed some negative effects of my procrastination. I would tend to actually experience the stress and burden of my procrastination. I would obsess about the project for an extended period of time, experience higher levels of anxiety and some sleepless nights all while doing nothing about it. This did not just happen with projects that I perceived as difficult, this would happen with very simple projects, but ones that I found boring and just did not want to do. To sum it up, I would have anxiety and lose sleep over simple, boring projects. Crazy right! It sounds crazy but if you have any bit of procrastination running through your bones, it makes perfect sense.
I should note: I am not talking about people who procrastinate by watching movies or video games. That is not me. And that is not many procrastinators. I am talking about high-functioning, high-producing procrastinators. The issue is not about how hard you may be working or how much you may be producing; the issue is how much stress is caused by what you are avoiding.
And of course, I knew techniques that I could incorporate to help me. There is a lot of information and tools out there on how to change your procrastination habit. I read most of them, probably while procrastinating. I got it. I still didn’t do it. Well, I tried some things. I made to do lists and checked some things off. Yes, it felt good to cross things off my list but it was not ultimately changing my procrastination habit. Why? Because I was doing everything else on the list except the one thing I was avoiding. I needed a bigger change.
I am a trained clinician, a certified professional coach, and a sales person. Through all of my trainings, combined with extra curricular reading, the one thing that always resonated with me was to do the hardest things and things you hate, first.
Now, the artful mind of a procrastinator asks, first, as in the beginning of the week or first thing on Friday Morning? An expert procrastinator is going with first thing Friday morning. Get it done and end your week on a high note. The problem with this of course is that you will have suffered through needless anxiety, worry, and lost sleep for a week.
I finally had enough. A few months ago I silently started to write down my Monday high fives. I looked at my projects and the week ahead and I picked all of the things I dreaded doing or was a bit intimidated about and put them down for Monday. This was not limited to work, this included fitness goals, and personal goals as well. Basically, I started to coach myself. Eventually, I would start to tell different people about a goal or two I had to accomplish that day. Funny thing about people, they want you to hit your goal. They naturally start to ask, “hey, did you get that done?” They become your accountability coach and they didn’t event know it.
I am happy to say my Monday High Five routine has been working. So this is what I posted on Facebook and LinkedIn Sunday night.
I sent it out for the world to see. And, I held myself to it. I made sure if this was what I was saying I was going to do, I was doing it. It was really great to get my longest run of the week completed on Monday!
I hit almost all of my goals. What I missed was 2500 words towards my latest book. I did write 1732 words for my book and this blog post gets me over 2500 written words today. I had 5 really great conversations. I sent five constructive emails and I had the fun of sending 5 funny text messages.
Some may question why having 5 good conversations and sending 5 emails are hard tasks. When you own your own practice, it is up to you to do the work and get the business. Mondays are non-client days so it is really important for me to use that time to focus on the sales and marketing activities. You will also notice that all of my goals were measurable and achievable. That is really important.
Now your goals do not have to be 5 or in numbers of 5. That is just what works for me. It could be your 1 high-five for Monday or your 3 high-fives for Monday. You choose. It’s quite simple.
- Look at your week. What is/are the one, two or five things that are causing you stress?
- Why are you procrastinating with these projects or goals? (Be honest)
- Do you have everything you need to accomplish your projects or goals?
- If not, how are you going to get what you need?
- Who do you need to assist you?
- Write out exactly what you are going to do and by when
- What obstacles may get in your way and how are you going to get around them?
- Who is going to hold you accountable? (Trust me the more people you tell the more likely you are to achieve your goals)
As a seasoned procrastinator, setting and writing tough goals for myself, letting someone know what they are, so they can hold me accountable, and then hitting them, is such a great feeling. Even though I did not get 2500 words written for my book, I did get over 2500 words written and a bonus blog post. So goals accomplished on a Monday! The rest of the week has got nothing on me and I know I will sleep well on a Monday night! Here’s a high-five to your change and your success!
Sarah Stewart, MSW, CPC
Life Coach, Sales Coach, and Author