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How to Overcome Procrastination

You need to get a job.  In order to get a job, you need to write a resume, cover letter, make a list of employers and search the job advertisements.  You know what you need to do, the problem is that you can't seem to get started.  Many people suffer from procrastination and while it can be debilitating, it is possible to overcome it.  The key is to be mindful of it.  Here are some steps to help you get started: 

Ask yourself why your foot is on the brake.  Whether you are aware of it or not, there is a reason that you are procrastinating.  Something is stopping you from taking action and you need to understand it to move forward.  How do you feel when you think about doing a task that you have been avoiding?  Does it scare you?  Are you overwhelmed with personal issues and responsibilities right now?  Could it be that you are not enthusiastic about the goal that you have set for yourself?

Imagine yourself achieving your goal.  Close your eyes and visualize yourself achieving your goal.  Imagine the employer calling you to offer you the job.  Picture yourself working there.  Hold on to that image and know that it is within your grasp.  Everything you are doing now is bringing you closer to achieving that goal.

Identify one step you can take to move forward.  Trying to tackle a big task like getting a job is overwhelming.  It can be helpful to divide the task into smaller and more manageable chunks.  For example if your goal is to secure an entry level position at an accounting company, you might give yourself the task of calling one accounting company to introduce yourself and see if there are any opportunities.   

Determine what you need to take that step. Often people will procrastinate when they don't know how to get started.  If you make list of what you need to complete each task, you may find it easier to jump into it.  For the task of calling an accounting company to introduce yourself, you need a list of accounting companies and a prepared professional introduction.  If you aren't naturally an outgoing person, you may want to practice your professional introduction with a friend.  Once you have made your list of what you need, take action and stick with the task until you complete it.  

Celebrate your successes.  Just like any bad habit, procrastination can be difficult to overcome.  It helps if you give yourself a little positive reinforcement for every step that you take.  Even making a list of your tasks and crossing them off as you complete them is satisfying and it allows you to visually see your progress.  Be kind to yourself when you slip and give yourself a little treat when you accomplish something. 

The great thing about this process is that it won't take long for your efforts to start to show results.  Once you see yourself making progress, you will feel more motivated to keep going.  In the end, it will be worth the effort.


(Written by Karen Bivand, Image by