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When we set goals, it can often go like this...

We leap out of bed one morning and declare to ourselves and our dog that this is the week when we be getting stuff done, dammit! Aside from a few gym sessions and kale salads, we find ourselves putting things off, again, so we can read another self-help book about the sinister web of procrastination.

What is the consequence of not completing our goals? An uncompleted goal and a shame sandwich.

That’s it.

We all have our strengths. And, of course, we all have those weak spots we would rather not talk about. Failure to get out of debt, finding a partner, being more present with colleagues and friends.

If you have been procrastinating about something for awhile, it’s hard to stop and and admit defeat. It’s uncomfortable. You have to let go of the idea that you’re supposed to be this goal-crushing machine, achieving great things with ease. Hell, everyone on Facebook seems to be getting shit done!

If your goal does not feel real to you, as in, “If I don’t accomplish my goal, I am doomed,”, then where’s the motivation to change?

How to Stop Procrastinating and Become More Productive

For nearly a month I’ve been putting off arranging a meetup with friends I have not seen for awhile. Between coordinating schedules, the back and forth texts, plus the fear the group really does not want to hang with me, I keep the procrastination game in play.

Then, within 24 hours, I planned an event, set a date, invited friends, and got it done. Just like that. A month’s procrastination solved.

This was after I vowed to a friend I would donate $10.00 to an anti-charity if I did not coordinate a meetup with my friends by next week.

Fear, in general, and the fear of a looming deadline are a great way to DE-procrastinate. Imagine you are off on a trip….you leave the next morning….at some point those bags will get packed.

We often, however, do apply the same tactics to setting goals.

I’m not saying this side of human psychology is pretty. We are wired to avoid negative outcomes. In an ideal world, we are getting stuff done without these behavioral strategies. But if you keep doing the same thing, failing, and expecting a different result, what do you have to lose? You know how Einstein defined insanity…

Creating accountability

I find that two accountability triggers work best to finally overcome procrastination.

  1. Losing Money / Item of Value: Put money on the line if you do not complete your goal. This can also work with an item you value. The amount of cash has to hurt if you lose it. Even better is having this lost money go to a cause you do not support. You can do this with someone you know or use a site like for this particular torture to your values.

This also works by signing up for classes, hiring personal trainers, coaches, etc. There must be a financial investment that would sting if you lost. Make sure they DO NOT have a refund option. Play or perish.

  1. Public Shame: Tell your goals to those whose opinion matters to you and if you were to fail, their glare of disappointment would not be pretty.

If both these strategies don’t work, I usually find it’s either because (A) I have not risked losing a great enough amount of money / item of value I genuinely care about or (B) I don’t care about disappointing the person I told my goal to / don’t fear the public ridicule.

These two factors must be present for you to have ‘skin in the game’ and for the hack to work. It costs money. You risk shame. But that’s the point. Put up or shut-up… is up to you.

Get your most important task that you have been struggling with, done today. Use an accountability trigger or two. You will be happy you did.

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