urgency blogIt’s great to have business goals and to believe in your ideas, but they mean absolutely nothing if they’re not accompanied by a sense of urgency. You need to work with a reasonable timeline, believing in the necessity of accomplishing now, as if your life depended on your individual efforts. Though, often times, after the initial step of proposing an idea—business related or otherwise— we tend to drag our feet and let way too much time pass without any real work getting done. And this is nothing new. People have struggled with “habitual hesitation” for thousands of years! The Greek poet, Hesiod, approximately around 800 B.C., wrote “do not put your work off till tomorrow and the day after.” Roman consul and philosopher Cicero condemned procrastination, calling it “hateful.”If procrastination is so bad, why do we do it? There are several proposed theories for why people are sluggish to accomplish.  Let’s explore a couple.



Underlying Anxiety

One theory hypothesizes that anxiety and a fear of failure underlie this “drag your feet” mentality. This anxiety theory postulates that deep down, one is frozen with a fear of failure; hence, he/she puts off trying to accomplish his/her goals to avoid potential failure and its accompanying embarrassment. At its core, this theory hinges on one’s sense of self-efficacy and belief of succeeding.

Temporal Motivation Theory

While there is some credibility to the “fear of failing” theory, by far the most supported theory of the Procrastination Equation is the Temporal Motivation Theory. Developed by Piers Steel and Cornelius J. König, this theory stresses time as the crucial, motivating factor. According to some psychologists, the theory “models the motivating power of approaching deadlines, arguing that the perceived utility of a given activity increases exponentially as the deadline nears” (to Lord, Diefenforff, Schmidt and Hall). Let’s take a simple example to illustrate this hypothesis. 

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 Let’s say you came up with a great idea to increase brand awareness. You’ve pitched it to your boss, who is as excited about the idea as you are, and he gives you three months to implement it. After the initial rush to organize your ideas, come up with your plan and pitch it, there are now three months between your idea and its actualization. You are now faced with two options—continue with rigor to implement your idea, or take a break from it. The “reward” of actually setting your plan into motion and succeeding in increasing brand awareness is not immediate (three months, to be exact), so the motivation to work on your project is low. As time goes on, however, and those three months suddenly become three weeks, your motivation and drive to work will increase exponentially and eventually surpass your motivation to attend to other things. It is then that you will devote yourself to working on your project with the dedication it always deserved. Hence, the longer the delay, the less motivated we feel about taking action and vice versa.

What this all means

In a nutshell, what this means is that things need to get done. Do not wait. In our example, for those three months you were given to work on and implement your project, you should work as rigorously as you would if the project deadline was tomorrow. This is a mindset change, a definite new way of thinking. It is also self-imposed. It requires you to light and keep ablaze a fire beneath you to get things accomplished...to stay focused on your goals...to stay motivated and to keep the momentum always moving forward. Results need to be had. Your vision needs to be realized. You must learn to work with a sense of now, as if your life truly depended on your efforts. You’ll be amazed at the importance tasks take on when you begin to race against the clock and to work with a sense of urgency.




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