Each day, you’re asked to make choices with your time.
Every moment is a reflection of those choices. Do you choose to spend that 15-minute break between patients finishing your reports, or do you spend it on Facebook? Do you take the time to create an employee manual to clarify your expectations, or do you spend time correcting unwanted behaviors and grumbling at your staff? Have you developed a clear system for educating your patients, or do you spend time re-explaining things you think they should already know?
What do you find yourself habitually avoiding? And how has that avoidance impacted your success? Take a moment and think about it. What price have you paid for unfinished paperwork, inadequate promotion and outreach, or delayed communications?
In what areas of your life are you procrastinating? And how does that feel in the long run?
There’s a large body of research that suggests procrastinators live lives that are far less satisfying than those who don’t delay action. Procrastinators are less healthy, less happy, less affluent, and less successful in relationships than their non-procrastinating equivalents.
As a private practitioner, there’s nothing more damaging to your success than the habit of procrastination. It saps your willpower, robs you of opportunities, and leads you to uninspiring results.
The real problem is that you don’t know why you procrastinate so you remain a victim of that behavior.
First, some facts
If you’ve been procrastinating in your practice or your life, here are a few facts that may get you thinking about procrastination in a different way:
• Procrastination virtually never results from laziness, contrary to popular belief. Every indication is that procrastinators work harder than non-procrastinators.
• Procrastination is not an insurmountable obstacle. It can be cured.
• Procrastination can only thrive in a climate of unconsciousness. In other words, once you become consciously aware of the real reason you’re doing it (which isn’t laziness) you gain the power to vanquish it.
• There are eight reasons people procrastinate, and each gains its power from the fact that the procrastinator is unconscious at the time of the real reason he or she is procrastinating.
• Each of the eight reasons has a unique remedy that works 100 percent of the time, once the individual awakens to which reason is controlling his or her behavior and applies that remedy.
• Each of the eight reasons represents a lack of something, and when that lack is recognized and filled, the process stops instantly.
The prime culprits
Here are the eight reasons people procrastinate and the lack that creates them.
1. Ignorance: the individual has an unrecognized lack of knowledge. (e.g., Dr. John keeps putting off his first health care class until he realizes he’s been hesitating because he doesn’t know where to find a flip chart. It’s usually that simple).
2. Apathy: The individual has an unrecognized lack of hope (e.g., Dr. Maura “doesn’t care about referrals,” but that’s because she’s sure asking for them won’t work—so why bother?).
3. Momentum: The individual has an unrecognized lack of dedicated time (e.g., Dr. Paul keeps promising himself to finish writing his reports, but the time just slips away—another day shot).
4. Boredom: The individual has an unrecognized lack of focus (e.g., Dr. Amy thinks those online CEU courses are deadly boring, but that’s because she can’t keep her mind from wandering).
5. Rush addiction: The individual has an unrecognized lack of energy (e.g., Dr. Bob says he works best under pressure, which really means he’s addicted to the adrenaline rush from having his back against the wall).
6. Apprehension: The individual has an unrecognized lack of courage (e.g., Dr. Sacha thinks she’s too busy to sit down with her CA to discuss problems, but she’s really afraid of confrontation).
7. Vagueness: The individual has an unrecognized lack of clarity (e.g., Dr. Bob says he wants an associate, but he never takes the time to map out a clear picture of how that will work).
8. Emptiness: The individual has an unrecognized lack of passion (e.g., Dr. Ellen never gets around to doing her research, but somehow has time to practice her piano).
If you want to stop procrastinating and breathe new life into your practice, the first question you need to ask yourself is, “Which of the eight reasons is at play here?” Are you pushing something off because you don’t know how to do it (or some part of it)? Have you convinced yourself that an action step is hopeless; that even if you do it, nothing will change? Each of the reasons should raise a related question.
Taking corrective action
Once you’ve identified the type of procrastination you’re experiencing, you need to ask yourself what you need to do about what’s lacking. Is it time? Then you need to block book the activity as you would a patient visit. Is it knowledge? Then you need to make time to research what you don’t know. Is it fear? Then you need to learn how to “feel the fear and do it anyway.”
Once you know what’s lacking, resolving it is straightforward. You haven’t been asking yourself the right questions. When you avoid something and aren’t conscious of your habit, the habit grows stronger. But when you apply critical thinking and ask yourself what’s really in the way, you activate a problem-solving mechanism that will start taking effect.
As a chiropractor, you know the importance of removing interference. You do it every day with your patient’s bodies. Perhaps it’s time to do the same for yourself. What is the interference that’s preventing you from taking the actions you know would make your life (and the lives of those around you) better?
Find the source of the problem, diagnose it, and treat it as you would any other subluxation.
To eliminate procrastination and breathe new life into your practice, learn how to recognize each of the procrastination triggers in your day-to-day-behaviors, and master the remedies for each. Don’t let your unconscious patterns of thought and behavior control you and prevent you from being the person you can be, making the difference you can make, and reaping the rewards that are there for the taking.
Steve Taubman, DC, graduated valedictorian from NYCC in 1982, and ran a large sports medicine practice in Vermont for 14 years. He retired in 1996, becoming a popular stage hypnotist and performing worldwide. His bestselling book, UnHypnosis, is about reinventing your life and harnessing the power of the subconscious mind. His message has helped thousands build larger businesses and achieve greater happiness. He can be contacted through stevetaubman.com.