Use the power of choice to fight through procrastination

Neil A. Fiore, Ph.D., is stuck. And there are better places to be stuck than 1,500 feet off the ground, standing in front of an open door.

The best-selling author and expert on fostering healthy, efficient work environments was caught between “I have to” and “I don’t want to” as he considered jumping out of a plane on graduation day from the U.S. Army’s Paratrooper School in Fort Benning, Georgia. Then he saw Joe, the first guy preparing to jump, hesitate and reluctantly force himself out of the plane, consequently being picked up by a 150-mile-per-hour gust from the propellers. Joe slammed against the plane with a loud crash.

Choose positivity

In Fiore’s 2014 Annual Meeting presentation “Conquer procrastination and optimize your productivity,” he talked about how watching Joe clarified that he wouldn’t jump that way; that he would choose to jump confidently and safely. “With intense focus, I deliberately placed my hands on the outside of the plane, bent my knees as we had practiced, and looked up in the direction I wanted my mind and body to go — up, out, and away from the plane,” he said. “I had shifted in a few seconds from feeling stuck in procrastination to feeling fully committed to parachuting the right way.”

Not only did he jump and land safely, never again afraid to do it, but he recognized the failing of splitting yourself between “You have to” and “I don’t want to.” Try telling a 4-year-old to go to sleep, he said. Or a teenager to clean their room. It doesn’t work because, as he put it,  “’You have to’ means ‘You don’t want to.’”

Reframe the task

How to solve this? In the case of cleaning the room, Fiore suggested that a parent might offer the child a choice: “You don’t have to clean your room now, and you don’t have to want to. You can choose to clean your room one hour later, or you can choose to clean your room now for just 15 minutes.”

Similarly, if you have a task you’ve been putting off, choose between working on it for one hour later or now for 15 minutes. It just might help you take action sooner and with more confidence.

Read more about understanding and mastering the decision-making process in “Conquer procrastination and optimize your productivity”

Written by Matt Pais, MDRT Content Specialist

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