Defeating the Panic Monster
Why We Must Develop a Habit of Acting Promptly and Boldly to Avoid Procrastination in Our Lives.
There’s a highly entertaining, laugh-out-loud TED talk that’s well worth the watch for anyone interested in becoming more productive, gaining a sense of control, and feeling less shame in their life. In the talk, the speaker, Tim Urban, utilizes concepts like defeating “the Panic Monster” and “the Instant Gratification Monkey” to illustrate his point. And his central point revolves around procrastination and its extreme mental and emotional costs. The video is incredibly engaging because it’s true. Tim does an amazing job getting inside our heads and personifying common emotions and reactions in the human condition.
No doubt, I experienced the challenges of procrastination firsthand throughout school and much of my early career. I missed some great opportunities and let some important people down by not having the discipline to execute on time, much less ahead of schedule.
It seems that we’ve all dealt with procrastination in some way or another. Maybe you just went through a phase in college when you’d pull all-nighters to hand in essays on time. Or maybe every deadline in your life – from work to home to personal – turns into a suffocating mountain of stress, pressure, and overwhelm.
Living in a state of constant stress has serious costs. It starts with some lost sleep but will eventually manifest into a breaking point. This is a real concern, so let’s get real with it: What will break first? Your goals and ability to meet deadlines? Or your confidence and health?
Through the years, I’ve derived a sense of accomplishment from making big strides in this area, and most of those improvements come from an obsessive development of healthy habits. I had many guides on that journey – but one resource stands above the rest – a young author named James Clear. His book, Atomic Habits, is an absolute masterclass on building good habits and avoiding procrastination. Atomic Habits is one of the highest-reviewed books ever listed on Amazon and deserves a spot on any learner’s bookshelf.
This is a real concern, so let’s get real with it: What will break first? Your goals and ability to meet deadlines? Or your confidence and health?
I learned that, to be free of the Panic Monster and all its ugly manifestations, we must purposefully grow the habit of acting promptly and boldly.
A telling quote from Clear:
“You cannot rely on long-term consequences and rewards to motivate the Present Self. Instead, you have to find a way to move future rewards and punishments into the present moment.”
And there’s the challenge – moving future rewards to the present moment. It’s taking big, meaningful, life-changing goals and breaking them down into actionable bits. And finding ways to reward yourself for progress and small wins, while developing an automatic punishment when you give into short-term desires and fall off your commitments.
The good news? Researchers have been studying habits for years, and there are proven systems that we can adopt to develop this skill. Yes – discipline & moving future rewards to the present moment – these are simply skills that we can (and must) develop to defeat procrastination and live the life we know is possible.
I’ve included additional links to highly potent articles and books in the pursuit of developing this fortitude in the face of procrastination. With these as your guide, making a change is simply a matter of action:
A scientific guide on how to stop procrastinating. “One of the best productivity systems I have found is also one of the most simple. It’s called The Ivy Lee Method.” Link
How to beat procrastination. “Then, if you continue along, something magical happens. Once you get 2/3 of the way through…you start to feel great about things.” Link
What procrastination is – and what it isn’t. “It answers the question of how you would most like to spend your time in life. It focuses on actions, not results.” Link
4 steps to stop procrastinating, backed by research. “How turning habits into “personal starting rituals” can make beating procrastination easier and fun.” Link
Replacing procrastination with delayed gratification. “Putting things off is the greatest waste of life: it snatches away each day as it comes, and denies us the present by promising the future.” Link
Great things happen when we stop procrastinating and, instead, develop a default of taking action promptly. A perfect example of this is Rachel, a customer of B2X; she took command of a situation that seemed outside of her control. She calmly processed the issue, acted quickly, and recruited the right resources to help her. See how her story unfolded >