Be a Bison: Braving the Storm and Avoiding Procrastination
We can learn a lot from bison.
Did you know that bison will instinctively turn toward a snowstorm rather than drifting along with it or trying to run it out? They do this because they know that charging into the storm will get them out of the inclement weather quicker. It may be a bit rough getting through the snow, but they realize that it’s the path that will cause the least discomfort in the long run. How we respond to the storm is key. If you think about it, it’s kind of like the opposite principle of procrastination; procrastination will only cost you in the long run.
In the late 1980s, Nike came out with a fantastic slogan, “Just Do It.” This slogan is still said today and has become a household phrase for motivators (and likely, frustrated parents of toddlers and teenagers) everywhere. It’s a marketer’s dream to create something so impactful that it resonates with so many different people, and in my opinion, it further proves how procrastination is a shared experience.
So, why do we, collectively and as a society, delay the inevitable? Why do we think that putting it off will make it go away? We’re just elongating the storm. Let’s fix that.
There’s a great story that Local Wisdom’s CEO, Pinaki Kathiari, recalls about an interaction he had in 2015 with Steve Garguilo, the CEO & Founder of Cultivate. At the time, Pinaki had recently been invited to speak at the Business Marketing Association of Milwaukee and wanted to extend the offer for Steve to join him as an expert on the subject matter. Steve was a client and a friend of Pinaki, so the pair met up at a bar where Pinaki pitched the idea, and Steve graciously agreed to co-speak.
Pinaki was thrilled, pulled up his calendar, and (thinking he was being proactive about setting this plan into motion) exclaimed:
“Great! Let’s schedule a time to meet and brainstorm to get this [presentation] going.”
Steve cheekily replied:
“Come on, man! We are here, and we have a napkin and a pen… Let’s do this now!”
This response sparked an “ah-ha” moment for Pinaki. Steve brought to light how procrastination has manifested itself into an unhealthy habit; a habit that is so ingrained in our minds and often deters us from taking action. In fact, there is an entire study that relates to this called the “Temporal Pattern to the Experience of Regret.” This study revealed that people’s biggest regrets tend to involve things that they have failed to do in their lives. It found that “action causes more pain in the short-term, but inactions are regretted more in the long run.”
After that exchange, Pinaki and Steve put the presentation together right then and there. The moral of the story? Always err on the side of action.
The Art of Avoiding Procrastination.
Now, let’s put our new bias of taking action into practice… right away. (Wink, wink.)
How do you start building the healthy habit of erring on the side of action? Below are a few tips to combat non-action.
- Create fake deadlines. Train your brain to do things earlier and with more urgency. You’re way more likely not to miss a deadline with this method since even when you’re late on the fake deadline, you’re likely early for the real one.
- Channel the courage of your inner bison. Let’s admit it; a part of us delays deadlines because we are dragging our feet to face the truth. Just charge right in and embrace the inevitable.
- Break the project down into more manageable milestones. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or stuck at the starting line, try to set small, attainable goals that would contribute to the overall success or completion of the project. Organize your plan in a way that you can check off tiny tasks instead of feeling like you must tackle the entire project all at once.
- Learn from Isaac Newton. Yes, “that” Isaac Newton. Newton’s law of inertia is that an object at rest stays at rest, and an object in motion tends to stay in motion. The longer you wait to get started, the more difficult it will be to get off the ground, so always keep moving (even if it’s sometimes slower than you’d like).
- Recognize the difference between healthy processing vs. procrastination. A quick qualifier to the idea of erring on the side of action: not everything needs to be rushed or handled immediately, so take your time when you need to brainstorm or work out the details of a plan. Don’t rush yourself if you need to weigh the pros and cons of a situation or are actively thinking of a solution; however, you must be honest with yourself and stay conscious of what is preparation and decision-making vs. what is dodging.
Plus, above all else, keep in mind how much less uncomfortable it is to charge through the storm.