6 Take-Charge Hacks to Help Beat Financial Procrastination in 2015
With the start of every new year comes all of those resolutions that you’re absolutely, positively, definitely going to tackle.
You’ll be better at balancing your checkbook. You’ll finally kick your retirement savings into high gear. And you’re not going to let that financial paperwork pile up again.
Yet while you have a game plan for just how to get there in your head, you somehow can’t get your brain to flip the switch to “action.”
Perhaps it’s because you’re not really a procrastinator—you just work best under pressure. Once the 11th hour strikes, the creative juices start flowing, and you can tackle just about anything, right?
Actually, no, says Timothy Pychyl, author of “Solving the Procrastination Puzzle” and associate professor of psychology at Carleton University. “We make more errors [under pressure],” he says. “It’s not that you work better under pressure—you only work under pressure.”
In other words, you can’t get anything done unless you have a fire lit under you, which is when you start cursing yourself for not having the willpower to start earlier.
The good news is that sheer willpower isn’t the whole story when it comes to defeating procrastination. And there are plenty of ways to outsmart yourself, so that you can beat your own tendencies toward procrastination.
In fact, with the help of some behavioral and financial pros, we’ve gathered six strategies that can help you stop delaying the money-related tasks that can enable you to reach your financial goals.
The first step? Keep reading.
Procrastination Hack #1: Accept That You’ll Likely Never Feel Ready
How often have you used the excuse “I just don’t feel like it right now” as the reason to put off tomorrow what you can easily do today?
Let’s face it: You’ll never feel like it. In fact, part of the reason why we keep delaying action is because procrastination is a coping mechanism—it provides a temporary reprieve from an emotionally difficult task.
Pychyl likens it to people who eat not because they are hungry, but because they are trying to fill an emotional void—which ultimately leads to packing on unnecessary pounds. “You’re trying to cope with your emotions by avoiding,” he says. “It’s the same self-regulation problem.”
And if you’re procrastinating about a money-related task, then it might be because “sitting down and examining your finances means that you might come face-to-face with realities in your life that may be unpleasant,” says Lauren Locker, a CFP® with Locker Financial Services. “It requires you to examine the amount of money coming in and going out, and folks can have difficulty doing that.”
But if you accept that your motivational state is never going to match the task at hand, you can stop using that as an excuse for procrastination—and, soon enough, you may notice your motivation start to build because you’ve finally kicked off a course of action.
“If you wait for your muse, you’ll be waiting forever,” Pychyl says. “For example, I like being active, yet still, at any given time, I think, ‘I don’t want to do that.’ That’s when I say to myself, ‘Just get started.’ ”