When we act like an Idle Achiever, we temporarily misplace our perseverance to get something done. On the surface, it may seem like we’re procrastinating, but there’s an important difference. Procrastinators, a.k.a. Avoiders, are waiting for something to give them the will to get started. Idle Achievers, on the other hand, have the will, but can get overpowered by the task and its details.
To re-inflate your staying power, mix and match any of these tactics to help you commit to getting things done.
• Find a rhythm. You’re 10 minutes into stacking the cobbled stones that you know will create an awesome wall around your backyard. You glance over at the remaining two pallets of rock you need to move. “Really?” you think. “It doesn’t seem possible.” That’s because you haven’t been at it long enough to develop a system. When the first wave of defeat comes, hang in for at least 15 more minutes to see if you can find a groove.
• Imagine greatness. How do you get through the next 15 minutes of muscle strain to find your rhythm? Daydream. Picture the cobblestone wall as the perfect backdrop to your next outdoor soiree, the one where Bob Villa stops by for an impromptu visit and insists that you let him feature you on “This Old House.”
• Silence the complainer in your head. When we try to power through, our defeatist emotions can get really noisy as they try to sabotage our persistence. The nanosecond you hear this negative talk, tune it out by creating positive noise. Whistle. Sing. Hum. Recite “The Gettysburg Address.”
• Let pride propel you. Tap into your desire to appear successful by letting someone know what you’re up to. When you tell next-door–neighbor Marty that you’re building an amazing stonewall, Marty will naturally check on your progress. You don’t want to let him down, do you? He may even offer to help.
• Fit it into your style. If you’re a morning person, don’t try to shoehorn in new tasks after dinner. If you think best with someone else in the room, don’t try to go it alone. If you only have 10 minutes a day to work on it, don’t expect to get 30 minutes of work done. You get the idea.
• Chunk it, track it, savor it. By setting mini-goals, and tracking your progress, each achievement will spur you on to the next. No need to create an elaborate system. A simple handwritten checklist kept in a conspicuous spot will do the trick. Each time you reach a new goal, mark it off and revel in your accomplishment.