If you struggle with procrastination... find a way to burn your ships!

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You may be familiar with the story of Hernán Cortés and his arrival in the “New World." 

In order to prevent his crew from turning back from battle out of fear, he ordered them to burn their ships. That way, there was no return—the only way out was through. Accomplish the task or die! No going back!


Hernán Cortés arrival in New World, burning ships to accomplish goals

You may be thinking, "Okay, next time I am leading an imperialistic army bent on conquest of a continent, I will keep this idea in mind." But what about the regular struggles that we face with procrastination? I know for myself, I have delusions of grandeur that I would be courageous and charge on the field of battle, but I know that I am daily defeated by procrastination.

I cower in fear of accomplishing something great, so I daily retreat into the comfort of completing the insignificant.


I read an article by Chris Guillebeau on this topic of dealing with procrastination, and he had some really useful methods of “burning the ships" that lead to procrastination. I have also added a few of my own.

Tell your “Tribe."  If you’re committed to accomplishing something, then tell the people who will both be excited for your accomplishment and hold you accountable by asking about it. Give them a date to mark on their calendar; invite them to a launch party. Put your reputation on the line. Are you really going to damage your reputation by having to tell them that you didn’t do it or gave up? Deadlines and reputation (grades) do wonders for college students who need to produce large projects.

Blog post. When I’m having a hard time completing a blog post, I simply adjust the publication settings from “Draft” to “Schedule.” I usually give myself 20 minutes to keep working on it, and I don’t allow myself to change the publishing time. One way or another, the post has to be ready to go!


Register for a race. If you need help running or completing any other form of exercise, sign up for a future race. Put the date in your calendar and tell everyone you know that you’re going to do it. No backing out!

Spend Money. Anything that involves spending money creates a “no turning back moment” whether it is buying tickets, registering for an event, race registration, or paying a deposit for an event space. Anything that will cause pain in your pocketbook if you fail to produce.

Sign up for a public event. If you have a business idea, you need to launch it, then find and sign up for a pitch night where you will throw your idea out to the world and get the world's feedback, support, and accountability.

Public commitment: a friend was trying to create more paintings, so she told everyone on Facebook and her blog that every Monday for the next year she would have a picture of her latest creation. At the end of the year, she had 51 new paintings.

Anything with a fixed deadline is good. Carrots are good, but so are sticks. When the only way out is through, don’t give yourself a way out. Full speed ahead!
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For more information about how to enhance your business, visit my page Who & Why or send me an email at sethgetz@gmail.com.

1 comment:

  1. Seth, thanks a lot on your procrastination article. I am opening an online store after being displaced from my old job. Been off 7 weeks and sometimes I don't even get out of bed. I know that's depression, had it almost all my life, but I am not happy that way and always trying and reading new articles.

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