You know that you have to re-do your will, but you put it off for all kinds of reasons. You should discuss the transfer with your son or daughter, but you’d rather go out to the field. You should get a health check-up, but you think you have more important things to do. How many decisions do you put off like this, knowing full well that they can have a negative impact on your finances, relationships and health? You know you have to do something but keep putting it off until later. In short, you procrastinate.
Our ability to move into action on issues that are really important in our lives is one of the keys to success, but how do we increase our motivation to do things we don’t want to do or don’t really care about doing?
Visualization can be a good tool. In fact, we all know that, to take action, the positive consequences (the proverbial carrot) must be attractive to us. We also want to avoid the negative consequences (the stick). To carry out an action, we can’t be completely neutral about it. Therefore, visualizing the consequences becomes a crucial process. We certainly do it naturally but often also unconsciously. We create scenarios, sometimes realistic, sometimes unrealistic.
One of the problems experienced by most people who procrastinate is denial of the consequences:
- “I’m not sick, so why should I go to the notary?”
- “I’m still young (68), so I have lots of time to take care of succession. My son is even younger, of course (33).”
- “I’m healthy, and I went to the doctor not that long ago (in the last six years).”
In fact, in most cases, the failure to act comes from minimizing or completely negating long-term negative consequences. Therefore, the strategy is to visualize the negative consequences so that our anxiety and discomfort pushes us into action.
Here are some questions that can help you to act:
- What would be the consequences for my family if I accidentally died without a will?
- What would be the consequences in two, five or 10 years if:
- I didn’t transfer power to my son
- I continued to smoke
- If I didn’t get healthy
- If I kept drinking
- With this issue unresolved, how am I going to feel two months from now?
You can also use visualization to see how you’d feel with if that will were completed, if you lost 25 pounds, quit smoking, etc. However, anticipating negative consequences is often a significant motivator, especially for people who procrastinate.
So, instead of waiting for a catastrophe, even worse consequences and more limited choices, you can use visualization to imagine the worst in order to encourage yourself to act. Suffering in advance in your imagination could ensure that you prevent real suffering, including the suffering of others.
Work Psychologist, professionnal speaker, author and business coach